Monday, July 22, 2013

Does your bucket list include visiting with parents?

It wasn't my idea to blog anything about mortality at all; yet, am back to the morbid theme that Ramesh so enjoys!

I had a good night sleep after an enjoyable and eventful weekend. I woke up with a clear head, and had coffee and breakfast.  I read and blogged. I had a lovely walk by the river before it warmed up.  Lunch tasted awesome--the leftovers from the Saturday cooking.

And then I read this piece at Slate: It is "a calculator to to tell you how many times you'll see your parents before they die."

Of course I had to read it the moment that kind of a lead popped up.  After all, the annual trips to India over the last decade have been exactly for this reason, even though, this travel-dreaming blogger on a limited budget could easily divert that expense in order to go somewhere else.  And, boy do I have some travel plans in mind!

I spend money to go to India because, probabilistically speaking, while I have quite a few more years to live, my parents face a much more limited horizon. In fact, it is even probable that they are into overtime.

Death is guaranteed right at conception.  It is only a matter of when.  My first lesson on my own mortality was when I was way young.  It is not that I sit around waiting for my own death or anybody else's; it is merely a realization that one day it will happen.

As an atheist, I am not buying my ticket to heaven by visiting with parents, nor do I have to worry about spending eternity in hell if don't spend that time with them.  (Does having lived in Bakersfield for nearly a decade qualify as eternity in hell?!)

As a confirmed atheist, all I have to figure out is whether I am at peace with the decisions I make.  I know I won't be at peace if I didn't make that trip to India and, instead, if I spent those weeks in, say, Argentina that I have been drooling to go for years.  Further, it is not that visiting with the parents is a pain--it is always a pleasure. And I will get to meet with a few friends and relatives.

Hence, I go. And, yes, I am all set with the air tickets for the upcoming annual trip, later this year.

So, I did click on the link to the site that does the calculation.  A site whose address says it all:

As the Slate article pointed out, the site's simple interface was inviting. I punched in the data. The site had this to report:

Not a surprise to me--it matches my understanding of life expectancy at birth.

So, why create such a site?
We believe that increasing awareness of death can help us to make the most of our lives. The right kind of reminders can help us to focus on what matters, and perhaps make us better people.
Exactly!  This has always been my understanding of life, and death too.

When we realize there is only a limited amount of time, we are then able to easily rank some as important and others are not worth even a tiny second of our lives.

If the latter, we stop caring for sports in which people get paid gazillions to entertain us. We stop caring for movies that are formulaic.  We don't care for unprofessional colleagues. We end marriages and we divorce. Life is way too short for these.

I would rather spend time, and money, on what truly matters. I prefer humans who are genuinely happy to give me a minute or more of their lives. I travel to visit with my love. I visit with my parents. I read. I think. I help students think. I share ideas with people. I walk by the timeless river.

I blog about all these.

This is all that matters.

Before death happens.  I know it will.



Ramesh said...

At least this I would agree with you. Increasing awareness of death will make us realise that the most precious commodity of all is time and that we would do well to use it wisely. And by the way, wise use of time includes watching ball games :)

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, to use it wisely, indeed.
And, yes, ballgames too ... life can get pretty darn boring if we did the same stuff every single day, and if all of us did the same stuff too ... so, you watch your ballgames and I watch the geese, and we are both happy, right?

Ok, because you were well-behaved with your comment, I shall stay away from any mortality post for at least two days ;)

Shachi said...

Love you both and your camaraderie :)

Not just visiting....I say it's important to care for them too - physical presence, phone calls, money, emotional support - you name it. Kids and spouse can take priority, but parents are a close second. I'd hate for them to die unhappy or lonely or depressed. I would have failed as a daughter then.

Sriram Khé said...

Indeed ... it is not merely visit as in visit, but with all that subtext you mention.
It is a fine line for anybody to walk, and I would not think that there is any one formula for it. To paraphrase Tolstoy, every family is different. Thus, to me, as long as we are at peace within about the decisions we make, well, we are that much better off ...

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