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What a moment in life!

That’s the kind of thing we said when our first child was born, or when we ate our first bite of Duck a l’Orange, or when we did our first hit of acid. (Forget I said that. I admit to misbehaving a bit, and listening to Hendrix, and living ten miles from Ken Kesey, but acid? No. Not acid. Not that I can recall…)

But I digress. I’m talking about now! This moment in life.

Let’s give a look at it. Louise and I are in our second fifty years. One would like to think that during those fifty-plus years, we’ve acquired a survival kit for life: tolerance, enlightenment, humility, and wisdom. Lots of wisdom. We’re also at that life’s moment where the nest is empty, our fiscal house is in order, and we have the time to experience a variety of adventures. Or some combination thereof.

Isn’t that grand? That’s what I mean by this moment in life. It’s an avalanche of blessings, abetted by experience, enabled by aging. It’s all some kind of kismet.

Now there’s a word: kismet. In some Serbo-Croation dialects, they define kismet as “luck.” Are we lucky to be where we are in life? Yes, but it’s not just luck. Life woulda snuffed us fifteen years ago if we hadn’t deliberately practiced humility, tolerance, fiscal responsibility, and a willingness to accept medical advances. It’s not all luck, but this isn’t a Serbo-Croation dialect, either. As a descriptor for our fortuitous moment in life, kismet is a pretty good word, and if there was a kismet index, Louise and I would be near the top.

In graphical form, kismet might look like this:

Graph of kismet

A lovely, predictable, upward slope of kismet, forever reaching toward nirvana, unerringly maturing with age. What a moment in life!

But enough of this feel-good, pat-ourselves-on-the back kismet stuff. We all know there’s a dark side, and the dark side to aging is health. Back when we were in our invincible twenties, health was no more significant to us than, say, Serbo-Croatian dialects. But now, in our second fifty years, health is the elephant in the room. Between the two of us, Louise and I have survived strokes, heart attacks, hip replacements, corneal implants and some other things that we prefer not to talk about. We’ve emerged from traumatic injuries grateful, enlightened, and more than a little circumspect. A feeling of “I’ve gotta live for the moment” pervades. Health — or the lack of it — is gonna get us, but until it does, well, there’s the moment.

Which brings us to our second graph. Plotted over time, health might look like this:

Graph of declining health
Not a pleasant sight, but inevitable. We’ll not linger here.

Instead, a look at the two graphs together:

Graph showing the intersection of kismet and health
And there it is: the nexus. Right there where the two lines cross — and a few years on either side — that’s where we are. We have yet to achieve the nirvana of kismet, but we’re not dead either. This is why we’ve decided to travel until the soles of our shoes wear through.

This nexus is a fleeting moment. It hasn’t presented itself in our lives before and it won’t again. Wasting it is like wasting a honeymoon, or a rainbow, or the spontaneous urge to dance. Recognizing the nexus is the beginning; affirming it is the process; exploiting it is the reward.

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