Why Not Me?
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 • 11:26am
Did you ever wonder "Why not me?" when you thought of people who did the same or similar stuff you did and they were hurt or killed but you weren't? Is it luck? Destiny? Good Genes? Increasingly, I find myself asking "Is there some unfulfilled mission that I remain here to fulfill?"
Each morning, I find myself reading the obituaries, seeing people a decade or more younger than I, who are featured on those grim pages and wondering "Why not me?" Sure, I have a few aches and pains from stressing my body in ways it was never designed to perform, but I am still relatively unscathed.
During my youth, both in and out of the military, I did dangerous and sometimes stupid things. I was lucky.
In college, after an evening of partying, I raced around one of the little islands dotting Biscayne Bay in my father's car. I went much faster than was safe for the car or the road.
In the Army, I volunteered to go on missions that resulted in deadly firefights and walked along roads where snipers had shot others. I jumped from hovering helicopters into "Hot Landing Zones," participated in convoys through dangerous territory and performed other dangerous tasks yet was never wounded.
Later, after becoming a "family man" I was driving through Worcester, MA in the dead of winter with my family in the car. We drove through a puddle, went into an uncontrolled skid and did a 360-degree turn on a busy highway. But there was a gap in the traffic and we were all unhurt - not a scratch on the car either.
It is true that when it is your time, it is your time. We used to say, "You can't outrun the bullet with your name on it; and if the bullet doesn't have your name on it, it can't hurt you." But, which is our bullet and when is our time? For some, it comes after a long battle with cancer or heart disease. For others, it comes in the flash of a heart attack or automobile collision. But we still eat the American diet full of carbohydrates and fat and we still drive our automobiles on multi-lane highways as if we were NASCAR racers.
They say we should live our lives as if every day is our last, but that is virtually impossible. There are monthly bills to pay, plans to see people over the coming weekend, decisions about when to buy the airplane ticket for our next trip so we can get the best price and what we will wear for the wedding we will attend in a month or so.
As I get older, I find myself calculating how many years I have left if my health holds up. It can be depressing -- 10 years? 15? 20 if I am lucky. But what kind of life will I have in 15 or 20 years? Will I be consigned to a urine-smelling nursing home? Will I live with my children? Will I even be aware of my surroundings? The uncertainty of my future as an old man is far different from the certainty of my youth.
I remember the arrogant days of my youth when I didn't trust anyone over thirty. I am now 2.33 times 30 and from my side of my eyeballs I still think young. But when I look in the mirror, or worse yet, at a photograph, I realize I am old.
I now have lots of questions, foremost of which is, "When did I get so old so fast?" When others die before me, I ask, "Why not me?" And when I try to come up with answers to these perplexing questions I wonder if I can I trust my answers.
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Copyright 2012 Henry Bassman. All rights reserved.
Henry Bassman has written about high-technology and medical technology (biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues) for more than 40 years. He retired from AT&T, served in the U.S. Army where he became a captain and worked for ABC News. He is now affiliated with a small investment bank. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites. Henry has lived in Summit, NJ for 37 years and has been married for more than 40 years. He has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School.
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