Running out of temporary

Posted on July 15, 2007
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Every so often people have a sudden realization about themselves or life. We sometimes borrow from Christian theology and call these realizations “epiphanies.”

I was walking down the hall to let the cat out and prepare her breakfast. My knees and back were whining as they always do first thing in the morning.

It suddenly hit me that that is not something that will go away. I’d been muddling along believing that, as I get in better shape and lose some weight, the joints would get more limber again.

With age 65 waiting for me just beyond the next flip of the calendar page, I had an epiphany.

I suddenly realized that I’ve been thinking all my life that all my flaws and challenges are temporary.

I’m not fat. I’m just temporarily overweight. Yeah, for most of 40 years now. I’m not sedentary. My annual couple of months of aerobic exercise and weight training are my normal program.

My chronic obesity is not a temporary condition. My long-suffering joints won’t forgive me and shut up.

All my other lifelong challenges will probably remain challenges.

Is it possible my office is not temporarily a mess just until I get organized?

Is it possible I will always be scatterbrained and unable to match faces to names with people I’ve known all my life?

Might I never become fluent in French?

Is it possible I might never get to the bottom of that pile of books I want to read?

Might I never find a consistent, useful, golf swing?

Is it possible I’m running out of temporary?

Do we all live our lives thinking we’re in a temporary phase.

This is just until I’m old enough to drive. This is just until I’m out on my own. This is just until she realizes I deserve her. This is just until we get our bills paid off. This is just until I get promoted. This is just until the kids are on their own. This is just until the mortgage is paid. This is just until I get my pension.

Hmm. Many of them are temporary phases we do get past.

My wife Michelle says seeing all of one’s faults, flaws and obstacles as temporary is probably the difference between happiness and depression, between optimism and pessimism. Thinking (hoping) one is going to overcome each flaw may be necessary to enthusiastic participation in life.

I want to believe that so I will. I also want to believe I will improve so I’ll continue to try.

I believe it was Ring Lardner who said, “The race is not always to the swift, or the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”

My optimistic attitude may be a sucker bet.

On the other hand, negative thinking and pessimism is sucker behaviour, isn’t it? Where’s the prize for that?

We do have to make choices and take action and try.

And, yes, the thought that came to your mind when you saw the headline above is true.

One thing we can be quite confident is ultimately temporary is me.

Was it that same Ring Lardner who said “I always knew that no one lived forever but somehow I always thought there’d be an exception made in my case?”

Probably not the way to bet.

— David Cadogan


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