44

On the eve of my 44th birthday, I’m doing what I always do: thinking about dead people. Sure it’s morbid, but it’s the position from which I am most able to experience happiness that I’m alive. Or at least not dead.

I’m not death-obsessed in the Woody Allenesque sense. I used to be a hypochondriac and anticipate eventual diagnoses of fatal diseases. Don’t ask me where that came from, as it was an affliction I had since adolescence. It went away a few years ago, along with a bunch of other neurotic symptoms — a cessation that I almost wholly credit to consistent, hard running. This stuff alters your brain chemistry, there’s no doubt about that.

I’m actually in a very good mood this evening. That and thinking about death are not necessarily incompatible.

Anyway, here, in no particular order, are some people who didn’t make it past 44. I, on the other hand, fully expect to. In fact, I have to: Next year I move up into the 45-49 age group, where I will again be the “baby” instead of the wheezing senior in the 40-44 AG that I’ll be as of tomorrow.

Raise a toast to the angels and devils among them:

  • Jackson Pollock, Artist: Drunk driving accident
  • Dana Reeve (wife of Christopher Reeve and head of the Christopher Reeve Foundation): Lung cancer
  • Steve Irwin (aka “The Crocodile Hunter”): Freak accident involving a stingray
  • Drake Sather, Comedian and Comedy Writer: Suicide
  • Tyrone Power, Actor: Heart attack
  • Felix Pappalardi, Bassist (Mountain) and Producer (Cream): Murdered by his girlfriend
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, Author: Heart attack
  • Anton Chekhov, Playwrite and Author: Tuberculosis
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Author: Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Henry David Thoreau, Author: Tuberculosis
  • Billie Holiday, Singer: Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Author, Illustrator, Pilot: Plane crash
  • Marquis de Sade, Aristocrat, Author and father of Sadism: Unknown

5 Responses

  1. Nothing wrong with a little morbidity.

    I will come back tomorrow to say Happy etc., but I must point out a fun fact: you will soon claim an age that is divisible by eleven. (11 is my favorite number; I notice these things.)

  2. “Reg-gie! Reg-gie!”

  3. 44! Wow, I was getting freaked by 35 just a few days ago. Moving out of that all-important 18-34 demographic for everthing that matters in our market-driven culture…. and also staring down the short side of the slope towards 40.

    You are inspiring and I thank you. I hope to run at my absolute best in the next 5-10 years, after never truly peaking my physiologic potential for the last 21 years. I think there’s hope for those like me yet. ;-)

    • Gosh. Um. Thanks for making me feel so, uh, old. Yet also spry.

      But, seriously, I’m glad I inspire someone! (And living with someone roughly nine years older than I am takes the edge off. I recommend it!)

      My forties have been great, actually. Much better than the previous few decades. You have a lot to look forward to in addition to reaching your running potential. Teeth don’t start falling out for at least another 10 years after that.

  4. Belated happy bidet Julie… and many happy returns.

    Especially in the 44-49 age-group. You’ll be a star in that one.

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