Within the last 12 months I’ve had friends diagnosed with cancer (the latest being the man who has cut my hair for more than 30 years), one die from cancer, and, thankfully, two successfully treated for cancer. I expect that each coming year will bring more news like this. It’s what happens when we get older. The effect on me has been to reconsider “time.”
I’ve always operated on the theory that time, as in my time on earth, is open-ended. All of us do this. But as I see more and more evidence that I could be wrong, I realize it’s time to face up to the fact that every year the odds as to whether I’ll be around the next year, the year after that, and the year after that diminish.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sitting around writing instructions for my funeral. But I am thinking about not postponing things I want to do. If I’m going to travel, I’d better do it now. I want to keep in close contact with friends, since they’re on the same trajectory, though some started on it later than I. The only thing I’ve stopped doing is making long-range plans. My list of goals is shorter, wants and needs are fewer, at least for the time being.
T. S. Eliot’s “Love Poem of J. Alfred Prufrock” came to mind, particularly his protagonist’s thoughts on time, as I was writing this. Below is an excerpt.
“And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and
revisions which a minute
Or is there? In time, I, too, might reverse my decisions and start making plans for 2020. Only time will tell.