Time and tide wait for no man. Them as don’t work while young will have to work as old people.
I was raised on all these aforisms, but it meant nothing much at all. When you’re young time stretches before you, if not infinite a close facsimile thereof.
When my brother turned twenty five he wrote a rather fatuous poem about how half of his life had gone. Even then, from the height of my 15 or so years, I rolled my eyes at it. Because after all, even in the village when I was younger the life expectancy had been mid sixties, and by 1977 it was stretching to the seventies.
But young man are fatuous and at some level I knew that. And yet, maybe from that poem, it created in me an habit to look ahead and see what I had left.
Not that anyone can know what they have left. We have friends our age dropping off suddenly (will you people stop that?) and for them 25 was about the halfway point of life.
By family history I should have another 30 years. If I’m very lucky I might have 40 or so. But if the asthma continues attacking me suddenly (middle of the night, I swear to bob) when I don’t have a rescue inhaler (need to order another one) it might be much shorter than that.
RES in the comments has lamented many times that he will die with books unread. Scary, as he’s not that much older than I.
And I will probably die with books unwritten which is very scary because 15 years ago, when I was in ICU attempting to die of inter-cellular pneumonia, what weighed with me was the worlds I’d carried in me for years that would now never live in other people’s minds.
The world is only eternal if it can escape its creator’s mind.
It used to be only chosen (by gatekeepers) worlds would live, but now… Now I feel an obligation to them.
What I didn’t count on was my body, which has been trying to kill me since I was one, would go on expert mode.
But I have no intention of dying with these many books unwritten. They’d either haunt me on the other side or flap around like a flock of carnivorous birds, and land on some unsuspecting writer embryo, who might not be able to handle it.
So how long do I have left? I don’t know. None of us does.
All I know is in the time I have I must write, so that afterwards I might rest.
I’ve known that since the kids were little, when writing time was something I snatched like stolen pastry.
BUT now a new thing joins in. Given my body’s proclivities, I must husband time to have time. I must give time to my body — to exercise, to rest — so I can write.
This is annoying but in our present study of geriatrics can’t be avoided (I don’t mind the lifespan. It’s the falling apart that annoys me.)
I must stop treating my body like an inexhaustible, unbreakable machine, and trading pain and effort for achievement.
Instead I have to treat my body as an aged servant, and give it only what it can do, and give it time off to take care of its needs, so it will serve me longer.
Which means changing the habits of a life time.
But if it must be done, it must be done. Because I must have time to birth more worlds that will fly away and live in other minds, and maybe, in their own time, in those minds birth new worlds, world without end.