I just recently turned 35, an important birthday, I’ve come to realize. Officially halfway through my thirties, plodding toward the Big 4-0. The recklessness of my twenties is behind me (at least I hope so), and the anticipated disillusionment of my forties has not yet set in (and I hope it never does).
I have a daughter, who will turn 3 in December. And it’s because of her that I believe I’ll do my best to stick around. At least, as long as possible. I believe in surviving.
You see, I don’t think my instinct for survival really kicked in until my daughter was born. At least, not this acutely and persistently. I’m not talking about those unlucky enough to find themselves in some sort of life-threatening situation, possibly drowning or in combat, for example (I have almost drowned, so I can attest that my survival instinct kicked in QUITE strongly then). But those situations are of limited duration, born of a specific necessity and intensity. What I’m talking about is a near daily reminder that I want to stay here, and be healthy and happy, for as long as I can. I don’t want to miss one single day of my daughter’s life, particularly now, when, if I were to disappear, in a short time she would have absolutely no recollection of me.
These days, you frequently hear stories of soldiers and Marines in combat dying, and if they are local to you and you watch the news or read the newspaper, you may hear about the family they’ve left behind. And while my heart certainly goes out to that family, I’m particularly saddened when I think about that soldier or Marine never getting to see their children again. They’ll never go to their child’s little league game, or graduation, never walk their daughter down the aisle or tearfully drop them off at college. Never bear witness to the adult their child will become. It may sound sappy or somewhat trite, but that’s what I’ve become, I guess. These are the things I think about.
So I’ve tried to refrain from the careless behavior of my earlier days. I try and eat better, exercise more. I try and resist the growing urge to simply sit on the couch. I drive slower. I do crossword puzzles and read more, trying to keep my brain limber. I get check-ups more often.
I realize that I can only do so much, that if cancer cells decide to start growing uncontrollably inside me, or a car runs a red light and crashes into me, I have little control over it. But as for the things I can control, I believe I’ll do what I can to stick around a bit longer.
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