Know Your Own Bone

For my Monday essay in 3QuarksDaily, click here. It’s a bit of a new year’s rant.

Here’s how it starts:

December 31, 2010 — Today on the cusp of renewal, I read a singularly deflating article in The New York Times by Susan Jacoby who, on this sunny final day of the new year, took the opportunity to remind unsuspecting readers that we are going to get old and probably do so badly, and then die. Well, I, for one, had been planning to refashion myself in the new year — more yoga, fewer pounds, a new boyfriend, a mortgage-busting advance on my next novel. Won’t work; Jacoby has that covered. It seems healthy living will not protect us from Alzheimer’s, one of many left hooks the indifferent cosmos jabs in our direction. And forget that “late-in-life love affair” or “financial bonanza”. What awaits us is “unremitting struggle”, Jacoby warns, and we’d better get busy identifying a health care proxy.

But why tell us now? Why not in February, when we’re sunk in darkness and cold, our backs thrown out by shoveling, primed to believe the bad news? Or November, when crumpled husks of leaves cling like forlorn bats to the naked branches. I’d be willing to contemplate mortality then. Not now when the gates are flung wide open. Of course it’s important to plan for the worst. But it’s just as important, I would argue, to hope and not to expect the worst. Hope lights the fire under our butts that keeps us moving, even as our energy fades to black…

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