It was bad enough on that one particular morning ten years ago when I realised I was fifty. Of course I could understand that it was just a number. And yes, I’d heard all those inane wee sound bites that say such things as; “Shurr you are as young as you feel and fifty is the new forty.” What I do remember about that particular day was an advertisement on telly that went something like this… “Over Fifty? Isn’t it time you started to think about your funeral expenses. Contact Sun Life, you’ll receive a free pen in the post just for enquiring… no medical is required.”
Our lives are filled with mindless fanatical consumerism. The corporate universe can’t wait for us to grow up, open a bank account, get a mortgage, fill our homes with stuff… and presumably some children, before our “Now don’t be making a fuss” death.
And heaven forbid we should leave that burden and associated expenses to our children. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one day we see a drive-through funeral service being promoted on the telly like they do with some fast food outlets. Now, you may say that cemeteries are sort of drive-through anyway. But I don’t mean it in that way. I mean we will probably have a service where the individual arrives alone in their own car to a special facility where a complex ballet of robotic arms will inject you, incinerate you, then deposit your remains onto a community compost heap. All this will be happening while your car is chewed into a thousand pieces before every useful component is recycled into a shiny new vehicle.
The deluxe service may offer relatives the option of having your skull saved, washed, bleached, sanitised and placed in a black corri-board box for collection at the gate. Or if your family ticked the super deluxe section on the form, the skull of your loved one could arrive by postal drone to your front door. That way you could put it on that special shelf in the living room next to granddads and ye can all drink wine late into the night while you regale the neighbours with anecdotes and stories about how odd he was. How he was always banging on about the environment. All this while young Carol spelt with a “K” holds it in her hands to move the toothless jaw up and down. “We’re ruining the planet, we’re poisoning the oceans,” she mimics as the guests laugh and Andy with an “I” throws up on the table linen.
Yup, consume more and consume faster is the war cry. Keep the line moving like a Henry Ford car assembly plant. Shurr aren’t we all at it anyway. But lets get back to the present.
I’m just a few days away from my sixtieth birthday. I have just about completed sixty orbits of our local star and didn’t they go by rather quickly. You know, it did strike me there recently that if I was to get a new dog. If I went to the local pet store and bought some cute little bundle of joy – well then, it’s entirely likely that I’d die of natural causes before that little fecker did. Am I bitter? Yes I am. Time is not a friend to any of us. But then shurr aren’t we all racing to destruction, individually and collectively and I’m just one ape of average intelligence among so many. I’m one living hominid well hidden amongst the terminally stupid.
Speaking of the terminally stupid, I heard that Donald Trump, President of the United States tweeted that wind turbines will give you brain cancer. As I listened to CNN it brought back a memory from two years ago when Trump pumped his fist in the air while wearing a hard hat that was far too small for his fat head. He was shouting to his MAGA hat wearing sycophants at a Pennsylvanian rally “Beautiful clean coal.”
And on the news this morning, Mike Pompeo told the world that melting Arctic ice is not in fact an environmental disaster, but an opportunity to open new and faster routes to the far east. It will cut twenty day of sailing time allowing America to trade “tat” with China… apparently.
So being sixty I suppose allows some of us a modicum of perspective. Some of us older citizens can clearly see that the most powerful individuals on the planet are not necessarily the smartest.
But wait, relax, it’s nearly your birthday, you should be celebrating. Breathe. In through the nose and out through the mouth. So sixty, huh, imagine that. I’m so lucky to be here. Spare a thought for the millions and millions of sperm that unlike me did not make it. In the great universal lottery I obviously did. And I was born so I may dedicate some of that life to appreciating its wonders. Yes, life is great. What a privilege it is to be alive. A privilege to be able to stand up in the morning drink tea, plant beans in the garden and watch bumble bees dance from dandelion to dandelion… Sixty, yeah, will we ever see the likes of it again.
(c) Declan Molloy