100 Years to Live

“You’ve only got 100 years to live.” And sometimes that doesn’t seem like enough.

Having cancer when I was in my thirties created urgency, made me an “ants in my pants” girl, and made me know that I better get on with it (whatever “it” is) in case this (however you measure “this”) is all the time I get.

I can’t really listen to Five for Fighting’s 100 Years without crying. Watch the video here. Unexpected tears often announce to me that I better pay attention to something. But in this case, what?

The song alerts me to the immediacy of life, the poignancy of the passing of time, the fact that the “child really is [mother] to the [wo]man,” the fact that all of the versions of me that have ever existed, each day’s permutation, are all in the one living, breathing package that is today’s version. And that — in spite of the bad — it is good. I am good.

As James Taylor famously sings, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.” Aren’t there days that you’re not sure you can get through, sunny and seemingly fine though they are? Aren’t there dreary days when your heart is nevertheless aflame with the possibilities before you and you can’t believe your good fortune at inhabiting your little piece of real estate in your particular slice of history?

Two days ago I saw a man outside a hotel. I’d heard him speak before and enjoyed him. I don’t know him, however. And I hate suck-up culture, the idea that people with public personas are more important than anyone else and thus I should knock down other “regular”  people to get to meet someone with a public face. So some times I unduly avoid them. And though this guy and I made eye contact and smiled, I didn’t act on a very strong inner prompting (that I sensed twice, even urgently) to go speak to him.  And then I saw on Facebook 30 hours later that he had had a major heart attack in a hotel lobby. His survival is in doubt. Why did I have such a strong urge to talk to him? Why didn’t I do it? What does this all mean?

Once a friend passed me as he ran near my house. We waved and smiled. Eight blocks later he keeled over dead with a heart-attack. I was able to tell his widow that he looked beatifically happy and strong as he passed me, not struggling or pushing stubbornly onward (as I feared she might worry he had been). But as he ran he may have felt the immediacy of the moment. Or he may have felt he had 100 years to live.

So all those versions of me that are inside me…well they’re mine. They’re me. They’re all wrapped up in the beauty of who I am, who I’ve been, who I’ll be.  And I’m made of my mess and my glory both. And that’s just as it should be.

It’s the same for you of course.

“We’ve only got 100 years to live.”



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