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Today is my 61st birthday, well 62nd if you count the day I was born. The stark reality is that my life is well past half over. I have 19.6 years left per the actuarial tables – I just peaked – and maybe a few more than that per family history. This probably breaks down to 15 – 18 years of pretty good health and a few years not so good. Maybe those little aches and pains are there to extend life by making the days seem longer? Here’s another stark reality, someone waking up for their birthday today is not going to see the sunset. Life is fragile. All any of us has for sure is the moment, the present, today.
No point in looking back to “the good old days” or doing what I’m all too good at: “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Looking back is only good for the lessons on how to live better in whatever future we have. So how to use that future? I’m thinking, “How can I best leave a lasting GOOD legacy?” We all leave a legacy- good, bad, nondescript. Thomas Friedman in his book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” calls us Boomers the “Grasshopper Generation.” Our primary contribution is consume, consume, consume like the Grasshopper of the fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant.” I think that’s an over statement, but he has a point. Here’s the good news Boomers, most of us still have life and health left.
We have time and energy left to leave a better legacy to our Children and Grandchildren than a Grasshopper legacy. We are, and will be for a while, the biggest voting block. We are a political force. We can demand that our elected representatives develop a sustainable Social Security, a sustainable Medicare and Medicaid, and most importantly a properly funded, future and results oriented, educational system.
Education is our seed corn. If we eat our seed corn, our Grandchildren’s future is limited. Here is another harsh reality, and this is our turn to toe the mark. This is our turn to sacrifice a little in order to make a better world for our children. We have to be brave enough to say, “Spend that $100,000 on better medical colleges, not on extreme medical care to extend my existence an extra 90 days.” Just as in the past our Grandparents and Parents sacrificed for us, and we in turn sacrificed for our Children, now we need to make one more sacrifice, and it is probably harder emotionally. We need to build in more limits to Medicare end of life treatments. I’m not saying throw Granny and Grampy (us) under the bus. I am saying when our life has deteriorated to mere existence, and our time has come to learn the answer to “The Great Question”, spending huge sums of money to extend that existence doesn’t do anybody much good.
We need to start by flooding Congress with our letters and emails. [I just sent one – walking the talk] I don’t think that will be enough. The present group of Federal Representatives and Senators are not going to make the bold decisions. They are just too entrenched in re-election politics. They are too entrenched in “My Party” politics to make any tough decisions. We are going to have to “throw all the rascals out” maybe for a couple cycles of elections before we get people in office who think and act on “What’s best for America”, not “What’s best for re-election.”
Happy Birthday to all other 12/16 ‘s, especially my friends Jim, born the exact day, and Chris who I share a name and birthday with. Chris4Gkids