“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
78.7 years. That is the average life expectancy of a male living in the United States today. If I am fortunate enough to live that long, the year will be 2040. My children will be 50 and 47 years old. See what is so weird about this fact is that is only 24 years away. If you are 25 years old, 24 years seems like an eternity. When you are in your fifties, 24 years will blow by like a wisp of wind.
I am of the age when people, people I know, people I am close to, are dying at a frequency I didn’t experience when I was in my 30’s or even 40’s. It seems, at least to me, that these events come in waves. Three or four months will pass then all of the sudden two or three people I know, or know of will pass away. Cancer and heart attacks seem to be the biggies right now, though a couple of years ago suicide claimed the lives of three men I knew.
When I read or hear about someone dying, it affects me for the moment. I realize I won’t talk to this person again, or run-in to them at the Home Depot. I understand they have left people close to them behind, spouses, children, and other family members that have a void, a sad and mournful place in their hearts that will be hard to fill let alone mend. But those moments pass for me and I get caught back in the hamster wheel of life, forgetting I only have 24 years left if I am lucky until I read the next obituary.
We each have our own journey, our own path to follow. Joining us is a cast of characters that have and will change over each passing year of our trip. And though I have the utmost respect for Mr. Emerson there is a single destination we all share. I hope that in the 8,760 possible days I have left I will realize that the hamster wheel doesn’t need me, it will continue to churn and turn without my help. I hope that I will give my wife and children an extra hug, my parent’s one additional phone call and myself the opportunity to breathe deeply and enjoy the journey.
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” – John Steinbeck