Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Fountain of Youth

For a little more than a year or so, something I’ve struggled with is the knowledge of my own mortality. They say the reason 18 to 24 year olds make such good soldiers is because they rarely recognize how fragile life is, and are therefore more willing to take risks that can be potentially life ending than people who are older. Like them, I don’t think I realized how fragile my life is until my grandma passed away. She was the first person I’d ever been that close to who died. She wasn’t expected to die when she did. Her death was a huge shock to me, and it woke me up to the reality that life is short, and so very fragile. I can, and at some point will, die.

I used to think I was prepared for death. In a lot of ways I know I am. I know I believe in God and I try my best to follow His son as my Lord and Savior. I know I fail Him so very much of the time, but I believe I am forgiven through His grace. I believe I will go to Heaven when I die.

None of that prevents me from fearing death though. That’s something I have been struggling with. I am terrified of dying. I know death is a natural part of life, but I fear it still. And I fear growing old. What’s worse is that I have never, in my entire life, ever believed that I would live to be very old. It has always been a sort of gut instinct. And so I wonder just how much time I really have left. I wonder if I’ll be able to see my nephews grow up. I wonder if I will ever be able to have my own classroom. I wonder if I’ll be able to ever write anything significant, lasting, or memorable for anyone. I wonder if I’ll ever have a love of my life. I wonder if I’ll live long enough to do so many things. It scares me that I won’t.

I look back at my twenties as they come nearer to a close and I see how much I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come in life. I made it through college, I worked my way up to a manager position at my former job, I wrote a book that was actually published (and a second that’s been sitting on the shelf), I’ve helped raise my nephews, I’ve made and lost friends, I’ve grown in my faith, and I have made so many memories and done so much more. I know I could continue to make and achieve dreams and goals in life. But I find myself wanting desperately to cling to my youth. I find myself looking back and wishing I was about to turn twenty again rather than thirty. I miss that feeling I used to have that all of my life was ahead of me. I just don’t feel that way anymore. I feel like I’m on a countdown and the seconds on the clock are running out. And this scares me.

I know I am getting older. I know there is still so much I would like to do. There just never seems to be enough time though. And anymore I just feel like time is something I’m constantly fighting against, trying to slow it down, trying to beat the clock, and get as much done as I possibly can, but failing to more often than I’d like.

I need a fountain of youth. Unfortunately that doesn’t exist and I know that any attempts at finding one would be an even bigger waste of time. But all of this gets me to thinking about how many people have died without finishing so many of their goals in life. That’s probably most of us. And what sort of goals will we have in our next lives? Of course, that’s the great unknown. Maybe that’s sort of my struggle there, though—I don’t know what exactly waits ahead. I think maybe that’s what scares me more than anything. I could live a long life and accomplish most of the things I’ve wanted to, I could live a long life and accomplish next to nothing, or I could live a short life and get very little done. And I don’t know what to expect in the next life. Maybe I’m just thinking too much on the here and now, worrying on it, when I should be keeping in mind that Heaven, whatever it turns out to be, will assuredly be better than anything of this life here on Earth. Regardless, the thought of dying does bother me, and with each passing year, I see that final second growing closer and closer, and wishing it was still miles ahead.

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