I just finished a book for my next book club by Nora Ephron called I Feel Bad About my Neck. In it Ms. Ephron talks about her own life and what it's like to grow older and we are taken on a sort of journey with her all the way to the final chapter when she discusses death and dying. So many people write about death when they start to approach the time in their lives when it seems more possible, even inevitable. And I assume it is natural to think about ones own immortality at that time. I have even started thinking about my own immortality in recent years, with all of the news of young, forty-somethings who were healthy and fit and exercised regularly but then they drop dead of a heart attack with no warning. Death is always something I have feared. I don't want to die and I don't really want to get older. And yet it's inevitable.
While I read her words about the fears surrounding dying, letting loved ones go and accepting death as part of life's cycle I was struck when I considered how differently growing older, death and dying seem to be viewed here in Sweden. The stigma of becoming old isn't as stark here as it is in the US. I don't really know exactly why that is but there is definitely a different view of life, which in turn signifies a different view of death as well. What if as we grew older, we focused instead upon all of the simple pleasures and joys, even the sad moments that give us perspective, through each stage as we make our way up the stairway of life? Every stage of our lives is beautiful, every moment special. Cherish each one.
Starting on my next birthday I am going to begin a journal in which I write a short essay on all that happened during the previous year that touched me, inspired me or even angered me. Everything that I feel enriched the meaning of my life during that year. Each birthday I will begin my next year with a reflection over the previous year, focusing on the living part of my life. Yes, before my next birthday I will go out and purchase a special journal to record all of my years into, from this year forward.
Who wants to join me?