Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Why, when you wake up at 3:A.M., don't your thoughts turn to yawning puppies and mooshy baby blankets and all-you-can-eat sushi, and the stellar educational standards upheld by Finnish students? Maybe your's do. I'm not quite so fortunate. My thoughts turn immediately to my mortality, my regrets, my failings, the mountain of work awaiting me at school today, the book I've misplaced somewhere in the house, and this morning--the minus 45 degrees morning I am going to have to face. My all-time "pet" mind jarring waker-upper, though, undoubtedly is contemplating my mortality. In the deep dark recesses of the pre-dawn hours (supplemented by a lonely train whistle--bet you've never heard of "a cheery train whistle"), I review my life. It comes as quite a shock to me that I haven't been more dazzling. I thought I would be. I had high hopes for myself. I pictured more rose-covered picket fences, more traditional paths, and above all a calming assurance that I was maximizing my time here on earth. More often than not I find myself thinking, "Is this ALL for me? Is this IT???" Some of the less sterling scenes in my life leave me just glad I could "limp off the stage without unconsciously trailing toilet paper off the heel of my shoe." I envisioned perhaps more figurative applause. I thought my tally would be longer. Instead I find myself quite ordinary. No, I'm not on any wanted posters. No, I don't appear on welfare rolls. No, I don't cross the street to avoid enemies. I live a quiet life in a small town where I know probably 60% of the residents by their first names. I teach, I serve, I cry at funerals, I pet my dog. I mother, I grandmother, I sister, I aunt, I niece, I friend, and I wife. I'm not sure what I expected 57 to look like, but then again, I'm not sure I'm willing to accept that this is ALL it looks like. Part of my late night angst also centers around the realization that I'm breaking down; I'm graying and cracking. I find myself reaching for reading glasses and mincing around on the ice like I'm 274. Who knows? Maybe from a distance I might be mistaken for someone REALLY hunched and old. Is there a cane in my future? Diverticulitis? Drool? It all seems well within the realm of possibility...during these early forays into my existential self. Fortunately when I awaken I can usually pull it together...at least for now. But what about bladder control? And involuntary flatulence? And losing my teeth one...by one...by one...?