Sunday, September 19, 2010

I've been thinking about endings lately

Maybe because tonight is the last night of a two-week vacation. Maybe because it's fall. Maybe because the kids in my life have grown up too fast and don't come around often enough. Maybe because yesterday in gerontology class, our professor asked us "What age do you think you'll be when you die?" and 73 immediately popped into my mind. Then she said she thinks we all know a lot more about ourselves than we think we do.

Scary, huh.

So . . . I'm in the second half of my 50th year. (Russ, I promise to change my blog name soon. It doesn't take Freud to figure out why I haven't done that yet.) If my subconscious was right, I've got roughly 23 more years. I'm not really all that freaked out, or convinced I guessed right. I'm just a little convinced, you know, for insurance's sake. Like when you think "If I think this will happen, then maybe it won't because I thought it was going to happen, and Fate is always screwing with me."

Or am I the only one who does that?

Besides, for all I know, I guessed too far into the future. You just never know.

Anyway, I have no point. I have nothing funny or wise to share. But if I wait to be funny or wise, you may not hear from me for awhile.

Wish me luck tomorrow. It's going to be a challenging re-entry. Ten days off is a long time to think of where you are, what you're doing and why, and about who really matters.

It's also a long stretch to alternate between two pairs of comfy shorts and big t-shirts, forego make-up and not give a crap about what your hair looks like. And I really hate to see that come to an end.

P. S. Just so I feel like I gave you something of worth, here is a really great poem. Not a real upper, but good nonetheless.

"The Anniversary of My Death"

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

- W.S.Merwin
- The Anniversary of My Death


  1. Bummer post, Renee. So the expiration date in my head is the actual one. Oh dear.

  2. Beautifully touching. And, I love that poem. This is autumn, all right. And, it brings us around to cycles and to knowing the realness of "summer's" end. The way you express yourself really opens it all up. Thank you, Renee. Great blog. And, I see no reason you have to rename it -- your blog name marks the point in time when you initiated this project. Jeannie

  3. P.S. Magnificent photo. Truly. J

  4. i was convinced i would die at 43. so much so, i actually lied about my age that year to avoid the number. i didn't die physically, but there was definitely a loss of "self" that year that forced me to face that ultimate loss of self.

    i love the idea of the anniversary of one's death. i have recently been thinking of how years echo with anniversaries of moments that you've forgotten about until the autumn light is at just the right angle. then suddenly, you can see through a tunnel of time all the way through a couple dozen september 19ths to that certain one.

    k. shutting up now.

  5. Toon--I don't know if you should put any stock into that. It's just my teacher's idea. She's a cleric and does hospice work so that kind of stuff is always top of mind for her.

    J--the photo was from yesterday's Star magazine. I should have credited it, but I figure none of the 3 people who ever read this would sue me. :)Anyway, if you go to the Star's website, you can see a collection of great cemetery photos. i need to find out the photographer's name and credit her/him.

    snakey--thanks for reading. you don't need to shut up. :)

  6. Lovely post. Hmm, I think you've got more than 23 years, though. I always feel pretty sure I'm going to live to 100, and given my family history it wouldn't be too surprising. Not sure I WANT to live that long...I believe in an awesome afterlife and am looking forward to it...but I think that's how it's going to play out, nonetheless. So I guess I'll just resign myself to being one of those spunky old ladies who inspires people.

    Unless I get my wish and die heroically while saving someone else's life, or maybe several lives, but the opportunity never seems to come up, damnit. I'm probably not hanging out in the right places.

  7. Thanks, Stacey. And I seem to recall you saved your husband's life, so you're already a hero. Plus you're a hero to lots of people you work with. 100 would be nice if I could get around with less pain than I am at 50. We shall see.

  8. I had "27" in my head for pretty much my whole life. I was worried it was the age I was supposed to die, because it had always carried so much weight. Turns out, it was the age I got married. :) Who knows why your brain is marking "73". Maybe you had just looked at a pair of boots that were $73. Or maybe you're going to win the lottery at age 73. . .

  9. You had me at Maybe.

    I hope your re-entry didn't burn you to a crisp, or even a mild blister. I find it increasingly difficult to imagine having a job again, both in the sense of ever getting hired and in the sense of being able to adjust my wide-open brain to the confines of an office and all that that entails.

    I also love the Merwin poem, except I always think Mark Strand wrote it. Probably Mark Strand wishes he wrote it!