Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Still life?


So far, 2023 seems remarkably like 2022. Still, other than mind numbing inflation, COVID teaming up with the flu and other respiratory ailments, and (depending upon which expert you hear from) a looming recession, it is still better than 2021 and that dung heap of 2020 when everything spiraled out of control.

The significance for me this year is that I turn 65 in a few months. I finally gave in to the masses of junk mail urging me to sign up for Medicare and enrolled in the first level via the social security website. Like Dante's Inferno, there are several levels of Medicare, each more confusing than the last. Social Security does its best to add to the confusion with lots of legal mumbo jumbo and many links leading to attempts to simplify the language of bureaucracies (which even the Rosetta Stone has a hard time cracking).

It is not that I need Medicare at this point in my life. I am still working and have fairly decent health coverage. But in that not so distant future when I actually do retire I understand I'll need every cent of healthcare support I can get. Still the Social Security urges you to delay taking social security benefits until you are in your 70s so you can maximize the amount of your month allocation. I'm convinced they are actually hoping you delay taking it so the likely hood of you developing dementia and forgetting about it or dying and not collecting at all occur. 

And it is not that I think Social Security will ensure my survival after retirement. Even if I wait until I'm in my 70s to take it, the monthly payment is still about what I now bring home in a week. So I can only hope my 401K survives the bleak markets we are riding. I am sometimes afraid the only cruise I go on after retirement will be on an ice flow.

Ironically, I finished watching five performances of the musical Tuck Everlasting being put on by a theater group my daughter belongs to.  If you are not familiar with the book, the movie or the musical, the gist of the plot is that the Tuck family stumbles upon a flow of water at the base of a tree in the early 1800s. They drink the water and discover (after not aging or dying) that it is the fountain of youth or immortality. After a hundred years they think it is more of a curse than a blessing. The youngest Tuck (17 going on 110) meets an eleven year old girl in the woods where the stream is and tries to convince her to wait until she is 17 and than drink the water so she can travel the world forever with him (and yes I think it is kind of creepy, too). The patriarch of the Tuck family convinces the girl, Winnie, that the secret to life is living, not immortality. She decides to grow up, have a child and then die.

It is an emotional story that makes you think about the circle of life and death (kind of like applying for medicare).  I found myself asking at what age would I have chosen to become immortal. It sure as hell wouldn't have been 17. I'm probably thinking sometimes in my 30s, not because it was a great time in my life, but I was healthy. I would also get a personal trainer and buff up before drinking the water so at least I would look pretty good. 

Still, immortality seems to come with the price of watching the mortals coming and going. It's not like you could make everyone immortal, because then you'd have the problem of an overcrowded planet and no one going anywhere to make more room. So immortality would be cool for maybe a couple of hundred years but then you'd be hoping someone could come up with a way to make you mortal again. It is kind of like Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire. Google the plot. I'm tired of explaining everything to you.

This has been another one of my now famous digressions. Not too many bloggers could start out complaining about medicare and ending up on a discussion of immortality. 

I guess I'm just special.

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