These are the things that will be occupying my thoughts during the coming year. When I can shoehorn them in among worrying about bills, getting the car fixed, damp-dusting, the 'ageing process', Death, World War Three, eating too many biscuits, did I use up the emergency UHT milk last Tuesday, bothering the doctor with my rheumy eye, will I die 'early and suddenly' (preferred option) or wither away, alone and ga-ga, in a work-house-style care home et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, that is. Death and Money, basically. And as one gets older, Death, naturally, tends to predominate.
If you aren't readying yourself for Death, ur not doin it rite. Life, that is. I read that somewhere. Or at least, something along those lines.
I'm forever readying myself for Death. I have been ever since I was in my 30s when I expected, due to illness, to be dead at 42. However that did not occur. 42 came and went, and a fairly large number of years have followed. I count myself lucky. Now I think of myself as being in a waiting room, waiting my turn, sweaty palms and dicky tummy, reading magazines I never usually read and eating sweets to try to take my mind off the horror of it all. Lots of people have gone on before, let's face it. It can't be that bad - can it? We all must open the door alone and find out what lies behind it, alone. Perhaps it's not that bad after all. We just don't know what lies beyond, because nobody's come back to tell us. Fear of the unknown and all that.
Meanwhile, it's probably a good idea to set aside 'readying yourself' from time to time, and enjoy oneself as much as possible. Otherwise one might become depressed and likely to move on from magazines and sweets to truly life-threatening things such as alcohol, drugs, fatty foods, dangerous 'sports' and so forth, in order to blot out the existential anxiety, thereby increasing it by increasing the chances of an earlier demise possibly through complications arising from morbid obesity.
Can I manage that? Can I manage to set aside readying myself? I'm not sure. I am sure, and I know from experience, that reading and writing are two non-life-threatening activities which can blot it out, if the subject matter is sufficiently interesting and engaging. Obviously that won't include (at least not when anyone's looking) articles about gluten-free baking, Katie Perry's beach-ready-body and Cruz Beckham's singing career. That is an excellent motivation.
On the other hand, why should one bother to avoid life-threatening things, when one is going to die anyway? It's only putting off the inevitable and you can smoke and drink merrily knowing you will be saving the state a few quid by dying 'early and suddenly' of a heart attack or rapidly-advancing cancer. Nobody lives forever. The reason I don't presently tend to over-indulge TOO much is because I enjoy physical activity in a moderate kind of way, walking and nature and so forth, and I want to be able to do so for as long as possible.
On the other hand - or foot, since we've used up both hands - you never can tell. One might not have to bother setting aside 'readying oneself'. One might come to terms with one's mortality - biting the bullet, so to speak - as one potters along, and have a terrific time doing it.
Compliments of the season, and all that.