Welcome, Arleen Williams, author of the Alki Trilogy, to the Age is Just a Number series. While reading Arleen’s wisdom-soaked post, I was moved to begin enjoying each and every moment of my life to its fullest. If only it wasn’t easier said than done…
The Final Third
“It’s time to start buying bananas one at a time.”
I can hear Dad’s voice in my ears. If he were here, he’d be teasing me now as I enter the sixth decade of life. But Dad passed a dozen years ago, and I’m giving myself at least another decade or two before following that particular piece of his advice.
“The older you get, the faster it goes.”
This too, Dad was apt to repeat in a voice filled with an odd mix of frustration, bewilderment and warning. Reluctantly, I’m beginning the see the truth in those words.
But mostly, as I enter this final third of life, I realize I’ve begun to count backwards. If I live to 90, that gives me 30 years. 85 gives me 25. So what am I going to do with those remaining years?
When I was younger, I took each year, each day, as it came, more reckless than I care to remember, blind to the reality of limitation. Life is not forever. Nor is health, strength or beauty.
In SATORI (Coffeetown Press, 2014), Jack Remick’s latest collection of poetry, he includes a poem titled “I Eat My Vegetables Every Day.” Here are a few lines:
I peel the fat off the skinless
chicken breast that I broil
and I eat broccoli and cauliflower
but I will not live forever.
Like Jack, I eat my broccoli and cauliflower. I exercise like a maniac, completing my first 200-mile bike ride last summer. And I try to make the best of the assets I was born with. Does any of that make me look or feel younger? Does it tighten the sagging skin or smooth the wrinkles? Does it add years or make the remaining years more enjoyable? Who knows?
I suppose what matters most is to live each day to the fullest, finding joy in every moment. Or as many as possible because “life isn’t all fun and games.”
But we’ve heard that before. Maybe, I wish I’d wasted fewer years wandering aimlessly trying to figure out who the hell I am. I began writing at forty-eight. My writing career will be shorter than that of others. So I make the most of the time I have. I count backwards and prioritize, deciding what’s important and what to let go.
If Dad’s right — and he seems to be — the final third will slip by in “the wink of an eye” and I refuse to squander a single second.
Arleen Williams is the author of three books. Running Secrets, the first novel in the Alki Trilogy, is about the power of friendship in helping overcome the dysfunction of family and life. Biking Uphill, book two of the Alki Trilogy, touches on thought-provoking contemporary political issues including immigration. The Thirty-Ninth Victim is a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister’s murder. Arleen teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle. To learn more, please visit www.arleenwilliams.com.
How Do You Know? – December 2nd.
What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?
On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.