It’s been a hellacious week. Monday I found out my job will disappear in October. My immediate reaction? Shiiiiiit!!!!! But once I gathered myself together, I started planning.
The loss of my job means the loss of my house. Like many homeowners across America, I’m still underwater on my mortgage, which means selling is not an option. The inability to sell means the loss of my down payment. Fortunately, I still have a nest egg, part of which I lost when the economy went to hell, but a goodly chunk remains.
Because my week has been a mad scramble, I was unable to prepare a proper post, so I beg your forgiveness. But coming to terms with my current roster of losses made me reflect on the losses we experience as we age. Here’s a brief summary.
It starts with your belly button. When you’re born, the doc cuts the umbilical cord, leaving you with a diminutive stump that falls off after a few weeks. I remember when my brother lost his unsightly little nub. Oh, the horror! The loss continues with your teeth. Those tiny deciduous teeth you sprout as a toddler are eventually shoved out of your head to make room for the permanent dentition. If not, you’d be severely challenged. Our larger permanent teeth enable us to bite, tear, and chew enough food to sustain our adult bodies, which would be impossible for our deciduous ones. Beside, you’d look pretty freakish with baby teeth.
The loss increases with age, especially in our skeletons. We lose bone density, predisposing us to fractures; we lose cartilage in our joints, ushering in arthritis; we lose vision as our lenses change and cataracts creep in; we lose our teeth, if we’re not careful about oral hygiene; and we lose our mental clarity, as the synapses in our brains slow down and misfire.
And don’t even get me started on appearance. Our tissues lose their elasticity, our skin loses its firmness, our teeth lose their brightness, our hair loses its luster, and our muscles lose their strength.
Life is about loss. Health is about trying to minimize that loss. It’s about beating back the forces of aging: gravity, inertia, stiffness, and weathering.
To put it all in perspective, I have much to be thankful for. Although fifty is creeping onto the horizon, I can still perform the same workouts I did as a firefighter in my twenties. Although I’ve required some general maintenance through the years, the old body is hanging in there and I’m sure it will see me through to a new job.
So tune in next week and I promise to have something enlightening to share. In the meantime, do what you can to minimize loss and keep what loss you experience in perspective. Remember… if you have your health, you have everything.