The Lasts

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I was working at our library’s book sale today, and had an interesting experience. An older gentleman came to the table with 3 books to purchase. He said, “I bought two books yesterday, and I’m buying three today. I hope I live long enough to read them all.” It stopped me in my tracks. Do we consciously get to that point where we start counting out the last number of books we think we can read before we leave this Earth? Should I be counting things? Oh, my!

The man I was working with then related a recent conversation he had had with his son. He bought a new car, and his son asked him if this would be his last car. He told his son, “Yes, it will. I bought the extended 15 year warranty, so it’ll be covered.” And he isn’t even that old a guy!

Have I been neglecting some calculations?? I’m not OLD, but I AM getting up there. Should I be giving more thought to my purchases, as if they are my last? If I have to read all the books in my possession, I will live a very long life! My car is five years old. Is it my last? Should I have bought that pair of capris last week? And I just bought a DOZEN rolls of toilet paper. Did I overcommit?

I know I’ve considered a few more long-term things that I probably won’t be doing again, like buying another house or moving across country. And there are some things that I’ve come to realize that I just can’t do anymore, like stay up all night, sleep on the ground in a tent or jump rope. Heck, just sitting on the floor or ground gets harder all the time! (It’s not really the sitting, so much as the getting back up!) But I guess I don’t think of those things in terms of how long I have left to live, but, rather in terms of being out of shape or old enough to just be too darned tired to attempt them.

But, seriously, it must be a strange place to reach, when we start to realize that we are purchasing our last this or that, or doing something for the final time. EVER. Does everyone who reaches “old age” start to think like this? Is it depressing, or freeing? Maybe you just start buying one book at a time, and hoping for the best. Or maybe you go with the opposite strategy, and buy a whole pile of books, so you will guarantee you’ll live long enough to read them all. Maybe it’s a relief to find that you will never again have to dicker with the car salesman, while he goes to “talk to his manager” in the bathroom.  

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3 responses »

  1. Moments like your interaction with this gentleman are like cold water being thrown in your face. He was probably saying it as a “ha ha”….. yet statements like this can catapult us into some soul searching. Great piece… thanks for the food for thought.

  2. Two thoughts: 1) Maybe the guy at the library was just a really poor reader and 2) I’ll be getting my SECOND “last” dog in a couple of months. Just trying in a slightly smart-alecky way to retain a little optimism…even though I agree with the whole concept you present!

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