Maybe it was Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass – death as a presence that accompanies you watchfully from birth onward – or just an increasing sense of impending age. Yesterday, after the ‘isha prayer, it occurred to me that, as I turn 48, I’m practically 50. I’ve never been especially quantitatively inclined, so maybe I’ve been slow on the uptake. But it hits me like a lightning bolt. Statistically, I have fewer years left ahead of me than behind me.
This isn’t to say that death can’t happen anytime, of course. In infancy, in your teens, your blossoming 20s, your proud 30s, your steely 40s, your flagging 50s, and so on. It’s just that the statistics that gave comfort when I was in my 20’s, no longer do so. People died in old age. I wasn’t old. I now approach middle age. I’m going to be old, and approach death steadily.
It feels like one of those epiphanies pot-heads talk about. Dude, I’m gonna die. People have died for centuries. What’s the big deal? No splash when I depart (except of course for immediate family and some friends). We’ve all seen the tears, the Facebook condolences, that last a few minutes – if you’re lucky – and then life literally goes on. Not that that’s the point either, in the manner of a self-indulgent Bollywood movie character who reflects on his own insignificance while staring out to sea. The point is, all this, all this noise, this is clutter.
It’s time to cut down on the noise and the clutter, and really prepare to meet my Friend, to give more freely of myself, because so much less time is left to give.