Omdahl: Aging is traveling a highway of cone zones
Living seems to be the most popular of all human activities. Bicycling is right next and it is a demonstration of priorities to bicycle against a red light.
Take it from somebody who has been there, aging is like traveling a long highway. For the first 50 years, we are on the Interstate, then shift onto 2-laned pavement, next to gravel, and finally down a muddy stretch to the edge of the cemetery. All along the way are cone zones.
Cone Zone 1: Mortality recognized
After hitting the age of 50, we realize that we have only one life and began wondering if we missed out on life. Would life have been more fun if we had married Susie or Trevor? Should we have majored in something besides basket weaving? Should we have taken that job in Australia?
Then we find out that people don’t get common sense until they are 26 and we think we are entitled to start over again new spouse, new career, new start.
Cone Zone 2: Shifting weight
You go to Penny’s and find out that they don’t make clothes your shape. You need 24/7s – stretch pants that had better that you can wear to bed, to church or the mall. They look equally bad in all places. Get them two sizes too big because your problem is bigger than you think and it will get bigger.
Cone Zone 3: Forgetting for no reason
At this point, we have accumulated enough knowledge to get by but we can’t remember it. You look an old friend in the face and can’t remember her name. They now have memory pills but only 12 percent remember to take them.
Cone Zone 4: The body fights back
Wrinkles appear. Of course, God never intended that humans should wrinkle but they didn’t quit fooling around with that apple tree. So with sin came wrinkles.
When you were young and sick, you knew you would feel better in the morning. When you are old, that is a groundless hope.
Gravity becomes a mortal enemy. Carrying 150 pounds up 10 steps becomes an all-day project. If you fall down, you actually wonder if you have enough life left to amortize the effort of getting up. Or is there something useful I can do while I’m down here?
Cone Zone 5: Nearing the end of the road
You are on the muddy stretch when you realize that you grew up with the stuff on the Antiques Road Show. So you subscribe to the Mayo Newsletter and the first two installments identify at least three possible terminal illnesses. You plan to adopt a healthy lifestyle but you are already 30 years too late. You might as well take up smoking.
You quit entering Publishers Clearing House drawings because they started giving prizes weekly for the rest of your life. The Four Bears casino has a better deal than that.
Cone Zone 6: Planning the crossover
As time passes, your list of potential pallbearers keeps getting shorter until your only option is cremation. Tell your family not to take you out on windy days.
Every morning, you start figuring that this day may be your last. Eventually, you will be right.
Some people believe that God ordained the time of their deaths when they were born. If you believe that, look in your belly button for an expiration date.
At this stage, you dust off the Bible in case there is some kind of entrance exam. Heaven is going to be quite an adjustment if you couldn’t stand being around God for more than one hour a week. In heaven it will be 24/7. If that’s a genuine worry, the only crown you will ever get is now at Burger King.
Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and former political science professor at UND.
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