Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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“Expiration Date”: Sunday musings…7/11/2021

1 7/11. Heh. Always makes me laugh when I come across these numbers together.

Can’t remember the last time I was in one, but still.

2 Huber. Getting a lift from one of those ubiquitous golf carts cruising around at a horse show. Horse Uber. Right? Right?

Should be a word.

3 Aren’t you? It always tickles me when someone recognizes me. Not that it’s a very common occurrence, at least not any more. Maybe once or twice a year at a conference, especially if I’ve done a couple of professional videos around the same time. In the CrossFit world, back in the day, it would happen pretty much any time I showed up at an event. I was always tickled when it happened.

Walking around the show grounds with Beth and her trainers it was cool to see them recognized by folks from all around the horse world. The twist, though, was having their HORSES recognized. Again, pretty cool, but totally foreign to any of my experiences anywhere, ever.

Still a rookie at this game.

4 Expiration. As in expiration date. For whatever reason I’ve come in contact with several people who have received dire medical diagnoses with a terrible prognosis. Really, nothing short of being presented with your own expiration date. A couple us who’ve been more fortunate got to chatting about this on the way to dinner after yesterday’s show sessions. You know how it went, of course:

What would you do? How would you structure the rest of your life if you pretty much knew what “the rest of your life” was going to look like from the calendar’s point of view?

There’s nothing really very new or unique about this question, of course, and it’s quite likely that when I’m done writing this morning I won’t have covered any untrod ground or come upon any revelations or epiphanies. But still, the question is out there and it’s rather interesting that it has come to rest in the “Restless Mind” while I’ve been doing mental gymnastics around the issue of finding new ways to occupy myself when/if I hang up my professional spurs. What would your days look like, how would you paint the final canvasses or pen the final chapter if you pretty much knew when the show was going to close?

There’s a very poignant song, I think it’s by Graham Nash but it could be David Crosby, titled “Encore”. It’s about leaving the stage behind but carrying on with the rest of your life. More like #2 up above, “aren’t you?” or “didn’t you used to be?” than “clock’s ticking”, and more in line with a healthy retirement. I thought I’d address that until I met another soon to be released soul, and to be honest I think the “expiration date” is bringing a welcome clarity to my “Encore” internal dialogue.

Like everything else there are poles to the question. Extremes, if you will, on either side. The person I’ve been with this weekend is simply ramping up the intensity of what you and I would see from the outside as their “regular life”. They go to work, although maybe not quite as often or for quite as many hours each day. There’s been no effort to check off any bucket list items. No fantastic or fanciful travel. Dinners mostly at home and only on the road if the destination is family. To be sure there are no sacrifices being made, financially or otherwise; if there is something there to be had in the moment that will make that moment a bit more special or memorable, whatever it is gets “had”. No fools are suffered, although what little I know of this person leads me to believe that they’ve not suffered fools any time anyway.

On the other end of the spectrum, I went to college with someone who was presented with a diagnosis that had a high likelihood of causing a calamitous end to the journey at any moment. No medicine or surgery exists that can change the odds. This person could do literally anything they wished; the risk of disaster seems to be the same no matter what they do after they make their bed in the morning. Their choice was quite different: they retired when most of us were just barely getting going with our careers and our families, and they have been off on a lifetime of the kinds of adventures that the rest of us will put off until we are too old to even think of them, let alone pull them off. They suffer fools and pharaohs equally; it’s all a part of the journey when you can literally expire in minutes, any minute.

So what would it be for me, then? You may remember my friend who passed some years ago from cancer. The one with whom my friendship deepened in the brief 22 months between his diagnosis and the day he died. It’s a shame that it has taken another dire diagnosis to see that my friend Ken gifted me with the answer to the question of an “expiration date”, as well as the answer to my interminable quest for some kind of meaning if or when I retire.

If I were to get stamped with my own expiration date I know now that I would simply live each day with the joys of being with Beth, our family, and our friends. Where I am or what I might be doing doesn’t seem like it would matter all that much. Heck, I’m sitting in an empty stall at a horse show, listening to an auction for young horses in Europe and picking straw out of my shoes. Not my personal groove at all, ya know? And yet, I am happy. Content. What I am is content in a place and around an activity that is not me or mine because I am around people who dream of being here and doing this. These people are mine, and I, theirs. I am literally basking in their happiness.

Why would I want to be anywhere else, or doing anything else, no matter when?

Silly, this, to find myself with this answer as if I needed to be looking for it, since I come around to this “answer” so often, here and elsewhere. We all have an expiration date, after all. It’s just that most of us don’t know when it is. Blessedly, myself included. If we do, certainly if I do, I just can’t find anything other than my people to think about. Like Ken did. Be with my people doing the things we do that make us think of each other as “our people”.

I’m flattered and happy to have spent this weekend in the company of a person who has received their “stamp” and chose to include me in what time they have left. It made me smile to think of my college buddy, doubtlessly off on an adventure that will make us all a tiny bit jealous if not for the price of their “stamp”. In both of their honors, and in honor of Ken, it’s been a privilege to remember that it’s not really a very difficult question for me to answer if it ever comes my way.

Looking ahead I’ve already got everything I need to be happy with whatever time I have left, and looking back I’ve had everything I’ve needed to be content with the time I’ve had.

I’ll see you next week…

2 Responses to ““Expiration Date”: Sunday musings…7/11/2021”

  1. July 18th, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    David Zugman says:

    “Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.” Marcus Aurelius.

    I think the Stoics would have been into crossfit.

  2. July 18th, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    drwhite says:

    Aye, agree entirely Dave! Thanks for reading and weighing in!

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