IMMORTALITY AND AGING – Marilyn Armstrong

I am not sure I ever believed I was immortal, most likely because I didn’t think about it. Until sometime during college, when my various courses forced me to ponder the nature of life and death. College was the peak time for existential mental muck-raking. Being young makes these subjects philosophical.

Was this the result of too many hallucinogenic drugs? No. It was the lectures and classes. It was the books. Too many books.

College can’t hurt you if all you do is hang out on the quad or wander around looking for a bridge game where they need a fourth. I actually went to class.

I took courses like  “The Philosophy of Religion” and “Phenomenology.”

I always had a steady list of existential books I needed to read for classes, in English and French. Sartre, Camus, Lawrence Durrell, et al.

It was deep stuff and is the literature I won’t read today.

That this hyper-intellectual phase of my life coincided nicely with my first actual near-death experience was pure chance. It cured me of pondering the meaning of life and death and aimed me more in the direction of staying alive.

Nothing is more aggravating than college students pondering the philosophical meaning of death who suddenly make a realization.

“Hey, I could really DIE.”

It takes the fun and philosophy out of the experience and adds a hard edge of fear. I’m pretty sure we all thought we were smart and had a solid grip on the life and death stuff.

I was so wrong.

As I got older, I knew people who died. There was nothing philosophical about it. A couple of suicidal friends. Aging family members. The odd car skidding down the edge of a mountain.

Now that I’m a senior citizen, I know I’m very mortal. One of these days, it will be a certainty.

I’ll get back to you on that.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

20 thoughts on “IMMORTALITY AND AGING – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I remember a near death experience from drowning in the Pacific Ocean and that for about two weeks afterward nothing made any impression on me. It was as if I were “on hold” from life. Then, it passed. Now, i want to hang on as long as possible, mainly so that I can take care of my blind daughter. This affliction came upon her in the last couple of years, so there are many adjustments to make and things to do around the house that she cannot do. Where in hell are those golden years?

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    1. I’m pretty sure they lied about it. I haven’t noticed anything golden about them at all. However, at least we are alive. You inspire me. I figure there’s hope for me surviving a while longer!

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      1. Marilyn, a LONG while longer. The only problem with living to the 90s is that one’s friends around the same age start leaving. The second this year just passed on this week. Fortunately, I have other friends thirty and twenty years younger that can see me off. While we’re still alive, we can enjoy each other’s company and cheer one another on.

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        1. We lost another one a few days ago. Unfortunately, living in a really small town — especially as we do, rather far from where whatever is happening is happening — it’s hard to find new people. We had friends here and they died. All of them. There’s still family, though. My son, my DIL, my granddaughter. And friends at the other end of the state which are close enough to drive to fairly regularly. A lot of our friends were older than we are, too and I miss them.

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    2. My aunt told me, in her later years, that there was nothing golden about the golden years. But looking at the problems in the world and the life style of so many today, I think we are lucky.
      Leslie

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      1. Yes, we are lucky. For one thing, we have a mate and family. And we keep mentally active, which counts for a lot. But I miss the ones who are gone. I try not to think of them too much because they aren’t coming back … but we are alive and we are (all things considered) pretty healthy.

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    3. I nearly drowned in the Mediterranean at the beach in Herziliya. I had accidentally drifted out of the “safe swimming area” and found myself very far from where I was supposed to be. There were some very ugly riptides there and I barely made it to shore. I never swam in the ocean again.

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  2. I try not to think too much about death. I know it’s inevitable, but all I ask is that when the time comes, I will be of relatively sound mind, sound body, and that it will happen painlessly — I will go to sleep one night and simply not wake up in the morning. I just hope that tonight’s not that night.

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    1. I had one friend — well, former friend. He was in his 80s, in fine health. He was out eating lunch, said he felt funny. Then he collapsed and instantly died. I miss him, but he really got the easy way out, though I’m not sure the rest of his family was thrilled.

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  3. Isn’t that so! At 17-25 we know ALL there is to know about life. And then we realise at some point, that our rather infantine philosophical, deep and v. profound ‘findings’ were just that.
    This is when the real life starts. And this is why I feel it should be forbidden by law to let anybody get married before the age of 25, because any younger, it has to be a miracle if two people know what they are doing…. 😉
    btw; when was that auto-portrait taken? You seem to have an entirely unwrinkled face, so young.

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    1. I’m not very wrinkly, but the rest of me is pretty crunchy. My mother was never wrinkled either. I think it’s inherited. That picture was taken (I think) 4 or 5 years ago. I don’t look as good now. Heart surgery hit me hard. I’m getting better with time, but serious surgery tends to age one.

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  4. You may have inadvertently explained why it is that I wish to die. I’ve never had any near death or died and was revived incidents in my life. My brain chemistry is wonky too, so that might be it. All I know is that usually I’m so tired and so sick of all the b.s. that the guy in the long black cloak with the scythe can’t come fast enough. I’d be more than happy to give my probably two to three more decades (at least) to someone who would appreciate them. Maybe I’m just afraid of the future and that ain’t no way to live.

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    1. Fear of the future is a real thing. I think there are times when we ALL feel that way. When we are sick and when we are broke. Especially when we are both broke AND sick and it all feels overwhelming. But you do come out of it. I can’t guarantee it, but things get better. I would NEVER have believed how much life could improve from where it was nine or ten years ago. We were totally in the pits. But somehow … we got through it. I honestly don’t know how, but we did. And slowly but surely, the world got better. I didn’t, sadly, get healthier, but I felt better anyway. I’m never going to be young and healthy again, but I can live with what I am. As my friend Cherrie said: “Each time something horrible happens, I look in the mirror and I say ‘Cherrie, this is the NEW normal. Live with it.'” And that is what we do. We live with it.

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