Wow — that sure crept up on me! I’ve reached a milestone — 64 years since I entered the world. It doesn’t seem possible. One would ordinarily think that the 64th would be a sort of a milestone: the beginning of a victory lap in a career, culminating in the 65th.
Retirement, enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of labor, reaping what one sows by carefully putting money aside for life after work. Certainly, for the better part of two generations, that has been the case. But I’m not sure. I mean, I know I’m going to take the lap that ends at 65, but I don’t know if that will be the milestone it has formerly been. I don’t think 65 will mark for me the threshold of whatever is next.
I have a career many people would give their eyeteeth for. Hell, many people would give their eyeteeth for any job in today’s economy. So far, I am healthy. I’ve whined in my posts before about my shoulder. It makes me useless for most things — “differently disabled” — but it does not affect my ability to work in my chosen profession. The disability would have stopped people who do “real work” right in their tracks: the car mechanic, the drywall installer, the policeman, the baggage handler, the orthopedic surgeon. Anyone who must exert more than ten pounds of force with the right arm. But not me.
It’s mostly a blessing; if you are under the illusion that “disability” is a pretty good way to make a living, you’ve never actually faced the choice. I know people who are permanently disabled, and I know they’d trade places with me in a hummingbird’s heartbeat. Given the option, I decided to struggle back into my profession. Most days, I’m pretty good at it, thank God. So why, on the eve of my sixty-fourth birthday, was I at such a low ebb in my morale?
Depression, we’re told, needn’t have a rational cause. It helps to know that, though my well-being is under my control, having a bit of depression doesn’t make me a weak or a bad person. I can help myself. Having a birthday so near New Year’s day makes a doubly compelling case for making “resolutions” regarding doing something about myself. I was thinking today that I either have to get back on my indoor bike, the indoor walking track or a treadmill — optimally, all three — or I have to get on something like Prozac.
The other thing I have to do is to seek a wider network of support. I’ve pretty much put all my eggs in a single basket. No basket should be expected to hold all of anyone’s eggs. Redistributing those eggs will be an exponentially harder task than getting onto that damned stationary bike at 0430. But I gotta do it, if I’m going to see 65. The people whose resilience I most admire, and into whose basket I’ve put my eggs, have a seemingly endless procession through their lives of people who truly care. Their phones ring off the hook every night with the day’s transactions of cheering up and being cheered up. Everywhere they go, people are happy to see them.
Maybe I can’t be like that, but I can promise myself that I will make an honest effort to connect once again with family and friends.