Funny Things You Do When You Sense Your Mortality
For some people it happens as young as 25—it’s a part of their quarter life crisis—while others are lucky enough not to experience it until they turn 50. But it happens to all of us eventually: the understanding that we are mortals. You always sort of knew it. When you broke that bone or underwent emergency appendectomy in high school, you didn’t have much to do in the hospital room, so you spent a lot of time thinking about all of the things that can go wrong with the body, and how fragile humans really are. But then you forgot about it when you were released and you had homework to do and friends to see and boys you liked to text. But there comes an age when you are partially thinking about mortality all of the time. It’s like a clock starts ticking in your head. You can ignore it for bouts of time, but when it’s quiet (like when you’re on the toilet or awake at night) you hear it again. Here are funny things we all do when we sense our mortality.
Schedule every doctor’s appointment
Not only are you scheduling your regular physical, your pap smear, your dental exam and your skin and eye exam, but you’re calling your health insurance company and finding out every little obscure medical test they may cover. If they’ll pay for it, you’re going to that appointment. You become obsessed with constantly renewing your clean bills of health. You become certain there must be some nook or cranny in your body you failed to check out. You have a doctor’s appointment every day for the next three weeks.
Hang out with younger people
You hang out with early twenty something’s to feel young again. You can still hang at that bar you went to senior year of college. You won’t look out of place. It’ll be fine. Oh my gosh it is NOT fine. Girls are wearing things like that? And talking about things like that? They want to go where after this? I’m going to bed after this! Okay, hanging with younger people to feel young didn’t work so you…
Hang out with older people
So you hang out with older people. So long as you’re the youngest one in the group, you’re young, baby! And you really have been meaning to join those 60-something-year-old women who live downstairs for a game of bridge and a pitcher of Arnold Palmers. Yup—this is the life for you. Oh my gosh I’m a thirty-something-year-old wearing a silk robe at noon playing bridge. So maybe this isn’t the life for you.
Get up earlier
You start thinking, “Time’s running out! I’m not going to sleep through it!” Your internal clock jolts you awake at 7 am every morning, even if you went to sleep at 2 am, because you are not going to sleep away the counted precious hours you have left on this planet. Of course, by 3 pm you need a nap. So you do sleep for another precious hour.
Rethink your entire wardrobe
You’re suddenly wondering if the wardrobe you love and have spent decades curating is completely inappropriate for you. Tank tops? Really? With these arms that jiggle? ALL TANK TOPS MUST GO. Wait, wait, wait. It’s very hot in the summer. Some of these tank tops should stay. You’ll just invest in a few with more, um, forgiving fabrics and cuts.
Visit the anti-aging aisle and cry a little
You used to hurry past the anti-aging aisle at the pharmacy thinking, “That’s got nothing to do with me!” Now you walk into it, dramatically (perhaps wearing all black) and stand there forcing yourself to accept your fate. This is your isle now. Oh, wait. The woman next to you is buying compression socks and stool softener in bulk. Maybe this isn’t your isle.
Try to get the gang back together
You know what you’ll do! You’ll get the old gang back together! You and the gals from college (oh no, did you just say gals?) Okay you and the chicks…Ah, not that either! You and your college girlfriends will have a girls’ trip. You’ll party until 4 am and sleep until 2 pm and have bloody marys for breakfast like you used to. Only half of the girls can go because the others have kids now. The ones who come are asleep by 10 pm. You know this because you passed out at 9 pm and sort of heard them up and about until 10 pm. Everybody wants a healthy breakfast like oatmeal or yogurt. Damn these b*tches. Okay, you also want oatmeal.
Consider having a baby, just for the distraction
Your friends with babies seem to be happy. Well, maybe not happy but certainly not thinking about their mortality. They’re too busy raising a little one. Maybe you should have a baby, just for the 18 years of distraction. That’s a good reason to make and raise a human being, right?
Compare old and recent photos of yourself
You splay a bunch of photos of yourself from college, and now, across a table. You’re like a detective looking for evidence that you don’t look that different over a decade later. You hold a photo of 18-year-old you next to 32-year-old you, your eyes moving back and forth between the two rapidly until you get dizzy. You’re trying to see when exactly—like what exact day—did these wrinkles form.
Stop taking medication and supplements
You go into denial about your aging body. You didn’t used to need magnesium to fall asleep, probiotics to have regular bowel movements or vitamin B12 for energy. And so, you shouldn’t need them now! So you stop taking them. And then you can’t sleep or poop or exercise for a week.
Yell at your partner over your routine
Your poor partner doesn’t understand why you are angry that he has pre-ordered your usual order from your usual Thai delivery restaurant and cued up the show on Netflix you’ve been binge watching every Friday for the last three months. He doesn’t understand that your routine terrifies you. So he calls to cancel your Thai food order. Wait, wait, wait—no need to take drastic measures, you say. Keep the order.
Start playing the age guessing game
You start questioning your ability to guess how old somebody is. When you were 20, you knew what a 20-year-old looked like. That shouldn’t have changed. So you approach what you can only image is a group of 15-year-olds to ask how old they are. They’re 22. What is happening?!
Reassess your whole life
Maybe I’m supposed to live somewhere else and do something else, and date someone else, and be somebody else. You start thinking that if this life isn’t the right path for you that you better figure that out now because time is running out. Then you slowly remember that you didn’t just wake up into this life; you carefully built it through a series of decisions and actions over a very long time. It’s probably, in some way, the right path for you if you’re here now.
Consider getting into religion (or more into it)
Not to belittle or question anyone’s desire to have religion in their life, but it is quite common for people who were not religious when they were younger to get into religion when they get older. When you sense you’re closer to meeting your maker, you become a little more curious about what he/she is like.
Meet with your CPA about your retirement
Your CPA stares at you like you’ve lost your mind as you sit in front of her, with brochures of retirement communities you’ve already checked out, and questions about what you can do to afford them. You are in your thirties.