Earlier this week, I learned about a friend of a friend who recently had an aneurysm. She is apparently brain-dead; she is exactly my age. It is terribly sad.
She isn’t someone I know, and I of course understand that this could happen to anyone, at any age. But still, it hit me hard, that feeling of mortality, that desire to embrace everything that calls to me.
Aging is such a funny thing: it’s so humbling. I’ve been sidelined from running for the past eight months, for example, all because of pervasive, undefined hamstring pain. It used to be that my body could do anything, and I didn’t think twice about it. Now, I am still strong, but that calm confidence in my own abilities is different. I am a little gentler with myself, and a little softer around the edges as a result. It’s not a bad thing, just still a bit foreign.
The idea that I could have something happen to me that would end my life, or severely impact my ability to do the things that I love, terrifies me. I want to live to be an old, healthy lady, the kind that is known for walking around town every day and volunteering regularly and still fighting for things she believes in. And I want to have stories to share at that point that inspire other people to go do the things that they love, to steep themselves in this one, brief, stunning life. I have so much to still do.
As I get older, I find myself with less interest in those who aren’t alongside me in this pursuit of living. I don’t feel prescriptive about it. That quest can look like an infinite number of things: time in a beloved garden, getting up early to go tidepooling, reading books that have long gathered dust, learning how to make flan, singing in front of a group of strangers at an open mic night, jumping off of a cliff into a deep pool of water below. But I want to know those people who are doing the things that make them who they are, who call to and embrace their own curiosity, who follow the feeling of magic that so often we dismiss, all while urging others to do the same.
This isn’t because of my friend’s friend, but further committing to a full life feels like a tribute to someone who has walked this earth for the same time that I have, who is no longer walking it in the same way.
I do not expect, wish for, or need fireworks today – a day in which I will work, and see friends I love – in order to live with intention, gratitude, and joy. My life is one of abundance, and of choices, and of invitations. Though I may not be running anywhere soon, I want to feel the depth of all that I have, all I can do, all who I can share it with, and all that I might yet become.
Know that, of course, I wish the same for you.