Relentlessly, Time Marches On (A Mortality Story)

For nearly all of my adult life, walking around while looking at things has been one of the activities that pleases me the most. I especially like to stretch the ol’ legs in cities, where there is no end of interesting sights, and in unspoiled natural areas, where the wonders of organic and inorganic matter never fail to amaze. And I’m also an explorer of towns that look like towns. Their old-timey ambience gets to me every time. This year I went for a healthy number of walks in all of these environments, both in the USA and in Europe, and consider myself fortunate to have done so.

My neighborhood (November 7, 2019)

However, one place where I don’t go out for walks too often is my own neighborhood, which occupies a fair amount of space in the suburbs of Philadelphia, USA. Basically that’s because my neighborhood is bland, man, bland, as is much of suburbia. Early this month, though, the urge hit me to hit my house’s surrounding blocks. Why? I wanted to check out how much of autumn’s colors were still in evidence. So, off I went in mid-afternoon. I strode along many streets, my eyes primarily focusing on tree foliage, or what was left of it. One hour later I returned to my home, having been wowed not all too much. That’s because, in my little corner of the world, yellows and ambers and russets and burgundies were close to being placed on life support. The autumnal party was just about over.

My neighborhood (November 7, 2019)

Yet, the walk had its good points. The temperature was pleasant and the air was still. Few cars made their way along the roads, and I crossed paths with only a couple of fellow humans. My mind and emotions, as a result of all of this, were in a state of relative calm. I was getting my Zen on. And I kind of liked that. You know, maybe I should enroll in a Zen monastery. I hear that they give heavily discounted rates to old f*ckers like me. Plus, I’d look great in a real long robe.

Calm as my mind was during the expedition, however, the obvious failed to impress itself upon me. Two days later it did. What I realized is that not only is fall waning in my section of the globe, but winter is drawing near. Not exactly an earthshattering observation, of course, but a useful one. Note to myself: Get ready to start freezing your ass off!

And one day after that I became somewhat melancholy as my thoughts expanded beyond winter’s approach. What struck me is that last winter seemed to be not all that long ago. For instance, I can recall in detail the events of last December’s New Year’s Eve, when my wife and I went with friends to dinner and to see John Oliver perform stand-up comedy at a Philadelphia theater. Was that really eleven months in the past? It feels like five months max.

Which at long last brings me to the main theme of this opus. Namely, our lives are flying by right before our very eyes. This would be okay if we went on and on and on. Time, then, would be irrelevant. I’ve reached the age, though, where time’s rapid pace mildly depresses me. I think semi-regularly about how much time I have left. My end might be imminent, after all. Shit. Double shit. Then again, I might hang around for another 30 years, which would bring me into my early 100s. Who knows? Whatever, if it were up to me, I’d go on forever. As in forever. I know that some or maybe most people wouldn’t choose the same. But even though the state of affairs on Planet Earth is incredibly far from perfect, overall I like being here.

“Huh? Who would want to live forever, considering that wars, floods, droughts, health epidemics and untold other calamities never go away?” I hear someone ask.

“Well, to my way of thinking, these things shouldn’t exist,” I reply. “For that matter, the whole setup on our planet would be different if I were in charge. I mean, what’s the deal with animal species — and that obviously includes humans — feeding upon other animal species? Where’s the value of life in that? And let’s not get started about other orbs in the cosmos. I shudder to think what varieties of mayhem are taking place among life forms out there.” Sigh. “It’s a pity that I wasn’t around for consultation when the universe began spinning itself into shape.”

Yeah, yeah, I sidestepped the question big time. Sue me.

And so we move along through life, hopefully trying our best to do our best. What matters in life? We all know the answers: Showing others that you care, and attending to them when your help is needed; providing properly for those that depend on us, and for ourselves; respecting the planet on which we pass our days; pursuing that which rocks our boats, as long as our passions don’t cause harm.

The list, without question, could hold many more entries. But I think I got most of the basics right. Seeing that our time on Planet Earth is limited, we might as well spend it wisely and meaningfully. And, speaking of time, it’s a late morning as I type this essay’s final words. Shortly I’ll be out the door, meeting the world and trying to keep in mind the unsolicited advice I offered in the above paragraph. Onward and upward!

(As I almost always mention, please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this piece. I thank you.)

111 thoughts on “Relentlessly, Time Marches On (A Mortality Story)

  1. We Travel Happy November 18, 2019 / 12:31 am

    Time flies indeed Neil. I could feel that too. So I guess it’s even more important that sometimes we stand still and just see, really see, the world around us, including the falling leaves in our neighbourhood. It’s winter again on your side of the world. I live in a country with perpetual summer, so autumn and winter amuse me. I enjoyed reading your post. Got me thinking again to take it slow. There really are roses along the way and I must take time to smell them. 🙂 – Amor

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      Hi there. Yes, it’s important to try and enjoy life when and while we can. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. barrydjd November 18, 2019 / 12:41 am

    Time moves faster, my thinking gets slower, gravity is winning a war with my muscles, and more people call me sir. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lynette d'Arty-Cross November 18, 2019 / 12:53 am

    A very contemplative and enjoyable read, Neil. I’m starting to wonder about the same things too as I climb into the loftier age groups.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 4:55 pm

      Hey there, Lynette. Despite what some people say, I don’t think that getting old has many pluses going for it. Still, trying to maintain a worthy life is where it’s at, no matter what age you are.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cindy knoke November 18, 2019 / 1:10 am

    Yep, time is now flying at warp speed. Why then is it still often so annoying?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. andrewcferguson November 18, 2019 / 3:48 am

    Great post, Neil. Like you, I hope to live forever, but the technology doesn’t quite seem to be there yet. In the meantime, we just have to keep on carpe-ing that diem – and your post inspires me to remember that today!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. theresagreen November 18, 2019 / 4:59 am

    They say time flies when you’re having fun, so on the positive side you must be having a whale of a time Neil! Keep on keeping on and loving life, best wishes,Theresa

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cindy Bruchman November 18, 2019 / 7:23 am

    Time is a fascinating subject. I love contradictions. Paradoxes, too. Everything is a double-edged sword. The tragedies of life become our greatest teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:03 pm

      Right, this subject is vast and multi- multi-sided. Especially when you try and look at it from non-human perspectives.

      Like

  8. chef mimi November 18, 2019 / 7:45 am

    Very smart words. And I think we’d all look good in long robes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:05 pm

      Hi Mimi. Truthfully, I probably should start doing some form of meditation. It wouldn’t hurt, most likely!

      Like

  9. joyce hamilton November 18, 2019 / 8:19 am

    Keep on truckin!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie Graves November 18, 2019 / 9:05 am

    Moving post, Neil. I have similar thoughts as I am no longer a spring chicken. Probably early winter would be the best way to describe me. Yes, Time becomes ever more precious as we age and are aware that we have more behind us than we do ahead of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ann Coleman November 18, 2019 / 9:34 am

    I think that learning to value the time left to us and spending it wisely is one of the biggest lessons of aging, Neil. Well said!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Debra November 18, 2019 / 9:42 am

    An aging friend once told me she had become more selective in her reading because she realized she would only be able to read so many more books in the rest of her lifetime. That depresses me more than anything. So many books and so little time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:12 pm

      There’s so many good books out there. Have you read Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin? I read it this year. To me, it’s great.

      Like

  13. Jacqui Murray November 18, 2019 / 10:28 am

    I’m walking my dog through my neighborhood in about an hour. We don’t get many leaf changes here in California but I do love seeing how people decorated for Halloween, smell the scent of cut grass, and get angry at the guy who’s front yard is still all dirt (for five years now).

    Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ally Bean November 18, 2019 / 10:36 am

    It’s funny how different suburbs can be. Ours is anything but bland, which is part of the reason why we moved here to begin with. Quirky is as quirky does. As for time marching on, you hit upon a topic that can be a dark hole of despair or a wake-up call for joy. As I’ve gotten older I find I’m more joyful than despairing. Getting older seems to work for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Helen Devries November 18, 2019 / 11:04 am

    When diagnosed, my husband was supposed to be dead by 2009…..he’s filled the time from diagnosis onwards by doing everything he possibly can while he can. Limited mobility now, but he still enjoys his life, helps people when he can, is happy to accept help in return.
    My mother lived to be 102…she wanted to live and made the most of her life, surrounded by friends…and when they died before her, their families.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:17 pm

      Hi Helen. Right, moving ahead with a positive attitude is an excellent way to live.

      Like

  16. joylennick November 18, 2019 / 11:12 am

    Hi Neil, I’m even nearer to the Grim Reaper than you… so I more than understand your feelings. .Anyone who fully appreciates the wonders of Nature, music, literature and the beauty (despite its ugly side) of all the facets of life itself (like wot we do) understandably doesn’t want to leave it all behind. Hey ho. But the knowledge that we could pop our clogs any time..(we’re putting in for an extension in triplicate…) concentrates our pleasure and appreciation of everything. So that’s a bonus! Cheers, here’s to a long life. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:20 pm

      Hey there. I’m not sure what it says, but sidewalks are helpful for sure. See you!

      Like

  17. Robert Parker November 18, 2019 / 11:20 am

    Hey Neil – not sure I feature you in a Zen monastery! What if there’s a vow of silence? Or the abbot hears you knocking out a Bo Diddley beat on the temple gongs?
    Well, onward & upward, keep on truckin’ and maintain a joyful mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Fictionophile November 18, 2019 / 11:44 am

    Great post Neil. Everything you say is so true and I can identify with it all. Life is short.
    “Enjoy the little things is life, for one day you will realize they were the ‘big’ things.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. dfolstad58 November 18, 2019 / 1:13 pm

    I mostly meander around on my bikes, cycling along I can look at yards, front doors etc and cover more distance than walking, there is also that lovely bonus walking doesn’t allow – coasting.
    I hope you will be exploring new towns for a long time still Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. JT Twissel November 18, 2019 / 1:37 pm

    I’m at that point in life too. For me it’s Sundays. They seem to come too fast. Thirty years – yeah, that’s frightening. But luckily I do have lots of hobbies. For people who don’t have hobbies those last years seem to drag. Gotta keep that mind or those fingers busy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:28 pm

      It’s true. Activities and hobbies can bring lots of satisfaction. Keeping active is one of the keys to a good life.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. eden baylee November 18, 2019 / 1:47 pm

    Good post Neil.

    If our time on this earth were infinite, I’m afraid many of us would wast our lives doing silly things and not accomplish as much. I always work better with deadlines. 😉

    eden

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:31 pm

      Yeah, but it’s not possible to be involved with big pursuits all the time. Doing small, regular daily activities can be a fine way to spend time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • eden baylee November 18, 2019 / 7:10 pm

        yes of course, I was speaking tongue in cheek … and the deadline of death is a good motivator to do at least a few good things, big or small.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Michael Graeme November 18, 2019 / 2:17 pm

    I remember it took a long time to reach 30. From 30 to pushing 60, it took the blink of an eye.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Paula B November 18, 2019 / 2:43 pm

    I don’t want it to end, either. I’m afraid there won’t be baseball in heaven. Or Springsteen. Or cheeseburgers. I guess the lesson is to watch more games, listen to more music, and eat more cheeseburgers while we can.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Fran Johns November 18, 2019 / 3:22 pm

    Amen to all (well, almost all) of the above. But forgive my climbing immediately upon one of my most relentless soapboxes: None of us are getting out of this alive. Therefore it makes very good sense to admit that, confront our mortality and consider under what circumstances we might be just as happy to float off into the ethersphere. Do you REALLY want to spend your last days, weeks, years in a vegetative state? Generally incapacitated? On a ventilator? Getting your ribs cracked by CPR? If you look closely at that stuff & write down your wishes you can save yourself (and others) a lot of grief, not to mention $$$. And THEN you can go ahead and really enjoy the day(s.) PS, dying’s way not the worst thing that can ever happen; look at all the great folks who have done it. OK, sorry. Now getting down from soapbox. Keep on strollin.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:37 pm

      Hi Fran. There’s a lot of things to consider as we move along life’s pathways. Life’s complicated! Thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad you climbed onto your soapbox.

      Like

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:39 pm

      I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but I’ll say it anyway: Trump’s a disgrace. He’s the worst, or close to it. So is McConnell and a huge bunch of others.

      Like

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:41 pm

      Indeed.

      You have an adventurous approach to life, and that helps to ease the “pain” a lot, I think. See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. annieasksyou November 18, 2019 / 4:22 pm

    This was a delightful romp, Neil. I enjoyed every line. You can wear the robe if you like, but I can tell you as someone who continues to meditate on a daily basis that you’re a natural Zen being— clothed however you choose. Today is all that’s guaranteed, so yes to carpe diem, gathering rosebuds, and generally being alert and aware of the good stuff—not dwelling on the pretty awful current events, for example.

    We have friends who are considerably older, and it’s sad to see them failing—the size of their world unintentionally diminished by their physical limitations. My hope for everyone is what Andrew Weil calls “compressed morbidity”: living well in good health well into one’s 90s—then having a quick illness and out we go. (Sorry to deprive you of another decade…maybe cryonics?)

    On the matter you so graciously helped me with, I have some info that I think will interest you. If you email me at annie@annieasksyou.com, I’ll provide it.

    Really great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:44 pm

      Annie, your comments, as always, are insightful.

      I’ll contact you via email later today or maybe tomorrow. Thanks.

      Like

  26. alhenry November 18, 2019 / 4:57 pm

    “…if it were up to me, I’d go on forever. As in forever.”

    I hear you, Neil, I hear you. I was sampling music for a thematic connection with my upcoming blog post yesterday, and when I got Joan Baez on the headphones, singing “Forever Young,” the tears started rolling. I could blame it on the gin & tonic I was sipping, but really it’s just that life is the only game in town. May it just keep going. For us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Paddy Tobin November 18, 2019 / 4:58 pm

    A thoughtful piece, Neil.

    When I first came on your blog I seem to recall you describing a similar walk about and it lead me to Google Maps and on to Street View and I recall being impressed by the amount of planting in your suburban landscape. It seems to me that your area is quite pleasantly furnished with trees which must make it very beautiful.

    On the subject of passing years – yes, I’m with you on those feelings, of a similar age etc. with my body having the occasional fail and need of repair. What particularly nags at me is that I have a few projects I would like to complete and feel the days/years slipping by without making significant progress on these – a certain lack of ambition, self-belief, self-discipline, laziness or whatever seems to get in the way. Putting things on the long finger becomes less of an option with the passing years.

    Many thanks for another enjoyable blog. Paddy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 5:48 pm

      Paddy, you’ve accomplished a tremendous amount by creating and maintaining your garden. That’s a whole lot of work, and you’ve done an amazing job.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. talebender November 18, 2019 / 5:11 pm

    I agree that contemplating how much time we might have left takes some of the joy out of living our lives. There’s a line from an old Tin Pan Alley song that I like…
    I’m gonna live, live, LIVE…’til I die!
    And look at the autumn leaves, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Alyson November 18, 2019 / 6:10 pm

    You are so right Neil, every day is a gift and we really should make the most of each and every one of them. I seem to have got myself in a tizzy of late worrying about everything, and everyone. Gets in the way of being a productive member of the community.

    As you know however I’m still grieving for a close friend’s daughter – I’m reading the comments above and it saddens me that so many of today’s young people struggle to hang on to life at all. The world we’re handing over to them is a tough one – Things have got to change, just not sure if the will is there.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Carmel Bendon November 18, 2019 / 6:26 pm

    Wise reflection, Neil. Isn’t getting old the strangest thing! You finally feel as if you’ve almost got a handle on how life works, and then it’s time to go. I read somewhere that, mathematically speaking, each year goes by/is perceived to be one-eleventh faster than the preceding year. At that rate, next year will be over before March. Enjoy the Christmas rush.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 18, 2019 / 7:51 pm

      You’re right. When we finally start getting things in perspective and in order, we’re old or almost old. This system sucks!

      Like

  31. cath November 19, 2019 / 3:19 am

    Beautifully put, Neil. I like the sound of your utopia. But I also like that despite recognising all the negatives, you’ve found us some positives, too. Keep walking!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. sniderjerry November 19, 2019 / 7:34 am

    Hey Pal,

    Andy Rooney said, “The older I get the more I realize life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes.”

    So the sermon, in my view, never gets old. Be kind, take care of each other, and do your best to leave the planet in better shape than when you arrived, and have some fun – put on your party pants and rock on!

    Another great essay – thank you – have a great day!

    Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Mellow Curmudgeon November 19, 2019 / 3:27 pm

    Yes, the list gets the basics right.  Hope you’ll be walking and blogging (and daring to buy green bananas) for a long time to come.

            *Do It Now*
            Low sun; long shadows.
            Take photos before sunset:
            twilight summons night.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. cincinnatibabyhead November 19, 2019 / 4:48 pm

    Thanks for reminding CB to stay on the ball. trying to be a good guy is an everyday battle with me. Hey, nice neighborhood fella.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Jane Sturgeon November 19, 2019 / 5:39 pm

    Yes Neil, time does fly. Loving care and paying attention… we’re writing in sync. Hugs for you both. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Pam Lazos November 19, 2019 / 6:18 pm

    Neil, your strolls are always refreshing, whether they are to the corner store or the moon!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. sloppy buddhist November 20, 2019 / 11:11 am

    thank you for this Neil … I also understand as I imagine a different world…I’ll play the believing game…hopelessly hopeful…I have friends who tell me when time goes fast it’s because you are happy 🤓☺️ smiles from snowy Alberta ❄️😀Hedy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 20, 2019 / 1:48 pm

      Yeah, it would be great if Planet Earth were a utopia. But it is what it is, as the saying goes. Have an excellent rest of the day, Hedy. See ya!

      Like

  38. selizabryangmailcom November 20, 2019 / 9:34 pm

    My husband likes to periodically ask me, “Come on, if a vampire came up to you and offered you immortality, you wouldn’t say yes on the spot?” I think his dearest wish on earth is to become a vampire.

    At any rate, your ruminations are universal ones, for sure. I saw a friend half a year ago and we got together again recently, and it FELT like it had only been a month, tops. Scary, weird feeling.
    But nice summary about what it means to be alive, caring about others primarily above all else. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 21, 2019 / 7:05 am

      Hi Stacey. I think that the Earth must be spinning faster than it used to!

      Yeah, doing the right things gives meaning to our lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. tanjabrittonwriter November 20, 2019 / 11:09 pm

    Tempus fugit! Considering that most of us are not overly fond of having the sand in our hourglass diminish minute after minute, I think it’s odd that we remind ourselves of the time and its passing constantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. George November 21, 2019 / 1:08 am

    Sage advice with I wholeheartedly agree. I’m now picturing you in a long flowing robe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  41. johnlmalone November 21, 2019 / 5:11 pm

    I reckon we’re roughly the same age and , yeh, I enjoy my time on earth and I don’t want to leave it anytime soon — all those places to see, meals to eat, loving to enjoy, ‘New Yorkers’ to read: who wants to leave that!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. yvettecarol November 21, 2019 / 5:22 pm

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Neil. As time appears to sweep past ever faster it is up to us to slow down and savour every minute. I hope you get more than thirty years! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  43. America On Coffee November 24, 2019 / 4:34 am

    Very nice photos Neil. Time is passing rapidly. Catch the good moments floating thru time. You are a good observer. Enjoy this short journey. Shake hands with several trees.💕❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  44. D. Wallace Peach November 25, 2019 / 5:27 pm

    The old mortality story. 🙂 I wonder how many of us haven’t had these thoughts, questions, realizations. Especially when we start tacking on the years and time starts speeding up, which it surely does. Pretty soon I’m going to find a way to slow it down, I promise. Your conclusion is an important one, Neil. Fill what’s left with meaningful intention. That’s the only way to go. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  45. carolinehelbig November 25, 2019 / 7:46 pm

    I can so relate to this piece. Great words of advice Neil! Now I better get off my duff…

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Silver Screenings November 30, 2019 / 4:29 pm

    If you do decide to live life in a long robe, please post photos.

    But please don’t stop writing and sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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