Somewhere there is a guy, a marketing guy I am sure, who once took his little Powerpoint from financial firm to financial firm and said, "Focus group responsivity indicates that impactful utilization of scare tactics can incentivize clients to increase attentiveness to financializing their futures." What this means, in practice, is that I keep getting communications telling me that I am likely to live to 83. (In the dark, eating cat food, but that's not the point here.)
Eighty-three. That's just over 34 more years. And vows of bravery be fucked, that is a really long time. How am I supposed to manage that?
In my time alone thus far my feet have worn little goat trails through this thicket. I make the bed each day. I walk the dog. I do my work, and my yoga, and my runs. I cook (sometimes) and eat in front of the television (often). I see my friends. I have a quiet little life, and if it is sometimes dispiriting it is mostly okay. But 34 years? That's tightening the sheets and plumping the pillows more than 12,000 times. That's probably 24 thousand miles of dog walks, and then a quarter century without them once I've buried this girl. That's remembering to put out the trash and pay the power bill hundreds and hundreds of times. That's millions of decisions to make (though my decision to never redo the bathroom again after this time will help cut that down at least a little bit). Thirty-four years and those trails will become ruts, and then chasms.
It isn't like I didn't do much of this work before. I was always the one with the grit and the strong back. I was the one who clenched my jaw and took hold of the rope and dragged us to safety time and time again. I was the one with the gumption. But he was the one with the faith. In me. And that matters. It's somehow less scary to make decisions when you know somebody believes in you. It takes being loved to have the little bit of invincibility this adulthood thing requires. That's what always gave me the confidence that I couldn't make a bad decision for us, just a better or worse one and we'd muddle through. He always gave me the boost I needed to see up and over the edge of the foxhole, and would trust me implicitly when I named the best path forward. I don't have kids, and the dog is easily impressed by the simple ability to make bacon. This house has become free of faith. We are faith-less.
Thirty-four years. Even with the motorcycle, and the hiking up mountains, and the running bear-strewn trails, and the perils of eating of my own cooking, it's still likely to be at least twenty. Even with the very good chance that I will knock myself out cold in my own newly constructed bathroom, it'll probably be a few decades. Every time I have a birthday "with a 9 in it" I try to learn something new over the following decade. At 29 it was swimming (marginally successful), and at 39 it was the banjo (what's smaller than "marginally"?). I guess this time it'll have to be how to have that faith in myself. I have to teach myself to be faith-full. I suppose I'd better get practicing and give myself a bit of momentum, the year "with a 9 in it" is right around the corner. And then just 34 more.