My cousin Scott has a plaque hanging on his wall that says:
Motto To Live By:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!"
I liked this motto so much when I first saw it a couple years ago, that I later asked Scott to send it to me. Little did I know how soon I would need it's inspiration.
I was sorting through old photos a couple weeks ago. Not really old photos, just photos from a couple years ago. After looking at those photos and then looking in the mirror, one thing has become clear: I've aged in the past five years.
I'm not alone, though. Glen has aged, too. (Sorry, honey.)
I won't say that we look old, but we certainly don't look young. I'd say it's a wiser, more weathered look.
I shouldn't be surprised. We're starting to feel older, too.
After last weekend's winter storm, it took three days for the muscles in my legs and behind to recover from trudging through all the snow and shuffling across the ice.
But I can't complain too loudly. Glen's body aches all the time.
We recently installed rubber flooring on the aisle in the barn. We were interested in the flooring for our cows' sake: to give our switch cows better footing when they're switching. But after talking with a couple other farmers who said their flooring really helped their knees and backs, we were sold.
I'm trying not to let this whole aging thing bother me, but I'm a little concerned (or maybe a lot concerned) that we're aging faster than we should because we're burning the candle at both ends.
Because I like quantitative values, I did some math. I took the eight years we've been farming now and figured that we average five hours of sleep each night instead of eight. (Sadly, five might be a generous number, but I didn't have the heart to use four hours.) The difference between eight hours a day and five hours a day is 8,760 hours of sleep. Now, here's the eerie part: 8,760 hours is exactly 365 days.
That means we've put in an extra year's worth of work in the past eight. Or, inversely, as Glen put it, "We've lost a whole year's worth of sleep."
If sleep is the fountain of youth, no wonder we look and feel older.
Maybe that's OK. Life shouldn't be about having a well preserved body. But, it raises some questions.
Are we using our bodies up too quickly?
Is it time to reevaluate our priorities and make sleep a bigger priority?
If we adhere to Scott's motto, the better questions might be, "Are we enjoying those extra hours we spend awake instead of asleep? Are we getting enough sleep to enjoy life?"
I think Scott would say the answer to those last questions is, "You better be."
On Monday, Scott was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). What started as a visit to the hospital for chest pain has become a diagnosis none of us could have imagined. ALL rarely occurs in people Scott's age (he is 36) and there are no known causes of ALL, so Scott's diagnosis has left us all with a lot of questions.
And like it so often does when someone close to us is faced with a serious health condition, we take a closer look at our own lives, our own bodies.
A few wrinkles and a few gray hairs are now insignificant concerns. What is important is making sure we can look back on our lives and say, "That was one heck of a ride."