In February, or thereabouts, an acquaintance of mine posted that they were going to see a doctor because they were experiencing some muscle weakness and fatigue. By the beginning of March, they were bedridden with a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and according to medical professionals, they’ll be dead by Christmas.
There’s a short list of things that truly terrify me, but ever since I watched a biography on Lou Gehrig as a child, ALS has been on that list.
The rest of that list includes all forms of dementia and tsunamis.
ALS seems to come out of nowhere, springing forth from the most mundane symptoms, and then it is absolutely devastating.
In general, I don’t make a habit of pondering my own mortality. I’m not naïve enough to think I’m going to live forever, but sitting around thinking about ways I might die is a rather unpleasant and unproductive exercise.
I work hard to avoid things I find unpleasant.
Nevertheless, when I got the text a couple of weeks ago that started “Do you remember so-and-so…” along with it came my own mortality staring deep into my soul like that drunk guy at the bar who gets in your face and shouts “Do something!” over, and over.
Just a quick poll, has anyone ever received news about someone that was prefaced by “Do you remember so-and-so…” and have it turn out to be good news for so-and-so?
Every time someone says that to me the subject has almost always suffered some unspeakable tragedy, or they died.
As I stared back at the imaginary drunkard who was in my face and wouldn’t leave me alone, I made a couple of decisions.
The first one was I was going to start going for more long walks with my wife. I enjoy walking, but ever since my leg decided it was going to cause me pain, every time I took a step, I had cut back.
But I told myself even if it does hurt, at least I can still do it, and given my acquaintance’s situation, I felt like I shouldn’t take that for granted.
Mobility is something most of us take for granted.
The second decision was that I was going to really start investing in finding new experiences.
There are a lot of times when I think something might be fun, but when I really start to think about the effort it would take to actually go do it, I decide to pass.
Well, I’ve reworked my equation and upped the amount of effort I’m willing to expend to go do certain things.
You would think that the lockdown we all went through a couple of years ago would have taught me not to take the ability to go out and do things for granted, but I can be pretty hard-headed.
I usually need to hear something four or five times before it clicks.
It’s cliche to talk about enjoying the simple things in life, controlling what you can control and limiting the regrets you have on your deathbed. But cliches are cliché for a reason.
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