Reporter’s Notebook | Subtle changes

This is going to be slightly different from the usual hold-me-accountable updates.

For one thing, I’m staring down my 75th birthday. I tend to take birthdays, especially significant ones, seriously. Always have. I remember drinking at the Top of the Mark in San Francisco for my 30th (there’s more to that story) and celebrating a bit too much on my 40th. I threw myself a pool party for my 50th and celebrated my 70th fresh off a move west from Florida to Washington.

In a few days, I will mark three-quarters of a century. To many, that’s still young, and it is, to be sure. In fact, in 2022 the U.S. still registers some of the world’s longest life expectancies – 78.6 years according to the CDC. The state of Washington ranks eighth in the nation for life expectancy with an average of 80 years. (Hawaii ranks the highest with 81.1 years.)

Around the globe, however, humans live an average of 72 years, with men living slightly fewer years, and women slightly more.

The law of averages might suggest, then, that I have four, maybe five years left on this journey of a lifetime. Of course, I don’t really believe that. Ever since my thirties, I’ve said I’m going to live to be a sassy 130. I’m not as sure of that these days, but I do know I have some damn good years ahead, however many that may be. And I sure as hell expect that it will be more than five years!

This brings me to procrastination, that personal propensity to put things off, to wait until the last minute, a trait I share with many and one I have honed over the years. Of late, however, it feels to be more pronounced. To some extent I blame the pandemic and the consistent low-grade anxiety around its evolving variants, never being sure from one day to the next what’s around the corner. But I also feel it may have something to do with the aging process. Perhaps by acting as though I have all the time in the world, I will, I will, even with the law of averages not on my side. Still, laws are meant to be broken, right?

Except dying is not an exact science, is it?

In the past few weeks two friends, both 75, passed away. One of them was a beautiful soul on Orcas whose heartfelt invitations to visit were always warmly welcome, but never acted upon. There was always something, some reason why I didn’t make the trip and share a visit and it saddens me deeply knowing that now, I never will.

Procrastination may not be the best modus operandi as we age. Each year, with the passing of family and friends, we realize first-hand that whatever plans we have can disappear in the blink of an eye leaving missed opportunities and unfulfilled dreams.

A few weeks ago, my swim partner and I celebrated achieving a personal goal of three visits to the pool in a week! This last week, she was busy with other projects and I didn’t get to the pool once. Not once. Thankfully, the garden continues to demand serious physical effort and there’s always next week, I tell myself. And there is until there isn’t.

Still, however subtle, there have been changes. Friends have noticed a difference in my appearance and offered encouragement. Even with a sporadic exercise regime, I have registered results and that alone is worth celebrating.

So, if you happen to have an hour or two to spare next Saturday, please stop by Kaj’s Pond after 4 p.m. and help me celebrate my 75th. Life’s too short to put off a celebration, isn’t it?