Who really knows what goes on in the mind of an octogenarian? A few evenings ago we settled down to watch the late CBC news and Peter Mansbridge was interviewing Dr. David Suzuki who is about to turn eighty. He said fifty was nothing, seventy was nothing but eighty is special. On the one hand, he referred to his emerging octogenarian years as the 'death zone' and that he thinks "about death a lot".
Canadians have come a long way since I was born in 1929. That year the average lifespan of the Canadian male was 60 years. According to Statistics Canada (2012), the average is now 81.24 years. So Dr. Suzuki is correct when he says we octogenarians are 'in the zone'. On the other hand, he said, it is the best of times as he no longer had to worry about getting a job, a promotion or a raise. In other words, he was free to speak the truth.
In line with his thinking, he pointed out that the human race in general no longer sees itself as part of the biosphere and yet realistically, we are entirely dependent upon it! When the native peoples around the world speak of Mother Earth they don't mean it metaphorically or poetically, he said. Rather, they truly understand humankind is totally determined by it. Thus, the idea of Mother Earth.
|'Penance' or Death?|
This general shift in thinking, Suzuki says, has not yet been made. It harkens back to my boyhood days when on Ash Wednesday, ashes was smeared on my forehead and the priest said, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return". I probably did not understand the full implications of those few words. Besides, he probably said them in Latin anyway!
Yes, as an octogenarian I do think about death frequently, I would worry if I did not, for that would mean I have lost touch with life itself. Thinking about the end, like the runner in a race only spurs me on to be aware of each moment of each day, and the people I admire and love.
And that's Dicks View of the World this Week