Big, Fat and Almost Dead

It’s the eve before New Year’s eve (the 30th for you simpletons), and I’m a bit sick, still in my tacky hideaway in Florida, getting ready for bed, then back to New York in the Morning. My life is typically a maelstrom of activity, bouncing from activity to activity, to various events, cavorting with interesting people. This trip hasn’t been that. This trip is about family of course, but it’s also about the less savory aspects of existence.
We’re in Florida, and while the sun seems to be always shining (even if the temperatures are colder than normal), people do not look good or healthy here. It’s a distinctly fat and homely population. My world is often dominated by the thin and at least moderately attractive. Not so here. People are overweight and seem to shop primarily at Brooks Brothers and Land’s End for their light-colored casuals. The men have guts, women’s hair is dyed and the kids seem like they’re barreling toward the same general state of appearance as their folks. It’s not pretty.
The other thing that’s been characteristic of this trip is death. My grandma, and to a none-too-much-less extent grandpa, are dying. Grandma has taken some spills, is under 24 hour supervision and, for someone who has been able to summon the will to live for a long time, doesn’t seem long for this world. Moreover, my step-mom (my grandpa and grandma are in truth step grandparents), sister and father are dealing with their folks impending demise. It’s the hot topic. And while I don’t really care to add much to the topic, I’m well aware that it’s a topic that won’t evade me. In fact, my father fell flat on his face while walking this morning. He walked into the place where we were having breakfast with fresh blood covering his face.
While he was in good spirits about it all and there was no major injury, there was something prescient about his fall. I see that death and physical degeneration get the best of us. And perhaps this should give me pause.
I’ve discussed what I see as the connection between past and present (informative, but not determinative), so I don’t see the New Year as magical. I believe if we have something we would like to commit ourselves to, that now is the time to do so. Of course, the New Year is a way of encapsulating an intention—that over the course of this year, I will take pains to do______. Starting on September 3rd, just doesn’t have the same sense of monument.
With that in mind, I want to start thinking about my New Year’s intention. It’ll have something to do with death. To start grasping the tenuousness of our existences. To see that time is running out and if I have a plan, I better start hatching it. And perhaps, just as important, I have the intention to stay thin. The fear of getting fat may be scarier than that of death.

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