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11:15 am - Thurs 1/24/08
Aging, Infirmity, and Death (Oh My!)

Aging, Infirmity, and Death (Oh My!)

I feel myself being pulled, ever so slightly, towards "the dark side", where I'm not exactly depressed, but things could go that way if I let them.

I think part of it is that nothing's happened this week on the acting front - No auditions, and while I had a workshop scheduled on Tuesday, I canceled in order to go to the ArcLight post-holiday party (For a time, I waffled on what to do - workshop or party - before reasoning that, while there'll be other workshops, there's only one ArcLight post-holiday party each year).

(The party was okay, btw. I'm glad I went, if only because I won a $20 g.c. to Amoeba Records. After the food and the raffle, where they gave away lots of prizes - I was hoping to win one of the I-Pod Shuffles - they showed Untraceable, with Diane Lane. Which was good enough to stay and watch - I'd thought about leaving once the movie started - but not good enough to recommend.)

The other thing that has me feeling slightly blah is the weather.

Before I came out here, I assumed L.A. would be like living in a terrarium. And most of the time, it kind of is - I remember saying once that the temperature out here is so perfect most days it's like I set the thermostat myself - but right now, we're going through a cold, gray, rainy spell (Which is what passes for "winter" here), and it's definitely having an impact on my mood.

I had my weekly therapy session with Javier yesterday.

I told him I've been thinking a lot about aging, infirmity, and death lately.

(Cheery, huh?)

From my immune system not being what it used to be (getting a cut or scrape didn't used to mean automatically getting an infection), to walking the neighbor's elderly sheltie (A task I really don't enjoy, but feel stuck with), to watching old folks gingerly inching their way down the street, to Tom H's father dying, to Charles Schulz's death (He apparently died like he lived, with an emptiness inside that nothing could fill), to Dick Clark's post-stroke performance on New Year's Eve, and now Heath Ledger's sad and untimely demise, I seem to be focusing on some of the more...challenging aspects of existence.

(I was going to add that there seems to have been a wave of terrible stories in the news about people killing their kids, but that's kind of a different thing than what I'm talking about, and thought-provoking in a very different way.)

For a time, I wondered why I seemed fixated on all this aging and death.
Then it hit me - Over and over again, the "lesson" seemed to be "If you're waiting to be happy somewhere down the road, if you think happiness is the destination and not the journey, think again...".

Cause the "journey" of life basically leads to the "destination" of death, with little stops along the way where you lose friends and loved ones, your physical abilities, maybe your mental faculties, and then eventually your life itself.

(What did W.C. Fields supposedly say about death? "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia"?)

But that grim reality - the trinity of aging, infirmity, and death (Or in Mr Ledger's case, just death) - doesn't preclude a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction, maybe even joy, along the way.

Which is my point - I have spent my life wishing/hoping/dreaming that I'd be happy "someday", and being generally unhappy with myself and my surroundings more often than not.

And the message I seem to want to give myself is that life is always going to be "challenging" (I think some of the biggest challenges are ahead; how, for example, do you deal, as you age, with loss and infirmity and impending death, without just giving over to depression and despair?) and I'm never going to be in a better position to be happy than I am now.

And I could go on for days about the challenge of being happy now, but I think what would make me happiest at this point would be taking a nap.


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