Last week, one of the daily freebie Kindle books was 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder. Free? I’m a writer, of sorts, so I downloaded it. Skipping over all the introductions stuff, I got right to the good stuff: the prompts. The first one was “Describe an important item from your childhood. Why was it important and where is it now?” Wow, that’s a good one. But I did that one a while ago as a Remembrance of Things Lost.
It was the second prompt that really got me: “You find out that you will die in five years or less. How did you find this out? What would you do in those five years?”
First, I am 72. Not a spring chicken. Much as my sister and I swore to live together and live forever, and we really, really were going to do just that, I realize now that it isn’t possible. First of all because, to my deep chagrin and sorrow, she died over eight years ago. Second, because it just isn’t possible. Maybe it is in science fiction, but not in science fact.
I know I’m going to die one day. Though I know many people do, rarely, if ever, do I think about it. I’ve had nebulous thoughts questioning what would be my ultimate demise: heart attack, cancer, car crash, what? But I don’t dwell on the possibilities. (Perhaps I should: I might live longer!) One time I did have a fleeting ‘pit of the stomach’ moment when I was sitting in my car in a parking lot, getting ready to go into the doctor’s office to learn what it was that they’d removed from my forehead the previous week. Was it cancer? What was the ultimate diagnosis and prognosis? I’m happy to tell you it was just a solar keratosis, “but be careful of the sun.”
But if I knew today that I had only five years? Whew! That was definite. Writing about it now, I don’t have the same gut feeling now as I did when I read that second prompt. You’ve heard of “aha” moments? That was an “uh oh” moment. It was just a suggestion; it had nothing to do with me, but it struck home. I think I lived more deliberately in those next few hours than I have before or since. It’s too bad it didn’t stick.
When I thought about it for a while I decided that the prompt wouldn’t make for much of an essay, though there 415 words already. I’ve no great urge to see more of the world. I’ve traveled a lot in my lifetime and I’m in no condition now, neuritis and arthritis being the chief causes, to do more. I wouldn’t dedicate my last years to doing more for the undertrod and mankind in general. I wouldn’t spend, spend, spend until I died clutching my last dollar. No, I’d just say “oh, well” and just keep on keepin’ on as I’m doing today. Short as it is, that’s life.