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39 and 100%

With my genetics, there’s a good chance I’ll live to be 100 years old. I might be diabetic and creaky for the last 30 of that, but 100 isn’t out of reach.

I don’t want to live to 100. Rather, I want to live to 100%.

Last week, I turned 39. Next year, I’ll be 40. The “big four-oh.” Whew!

Coincidentally, next year is also Dungeons & Dragon’s 40th birthday, which means a big party at GenCon, and I hope to make it to the big show for that.

But anyway, here’s how I am at age 39:

  • I’m overweight.
  • My left hip is very tight and crunchy. I think there’s something wrong with my lower back.
  • I ran a 5K on August 10th, with a 45 minute time. I’m happy about that. The following Monday, I had a major setback in my running and had an awful asthma attack.
  • I live in a city where it’s 105 degrees at 5 PM in August. I’m looking forward to running through the winter, when it’s in the 50’s and 60’s. I might even get to wear my long-sleeved running shirt.
  • I just finished up several knitting projects, and have decided to learn entrelac (I want to knit the Forest Path Stole).
  • My sister is getting married soon. I haven’t met her new guy, and I’m understandably cautious about the speed with which she’s started a new, serious relationship. But her relationship is not my relationship, and I’m not a dick. I’m going. I was initially hoping to be down a couple of dress sizes, but I haven’t lost a single pound since I started working out three times a week. My dress is fabulous, though, and it does fit.
  • I’m happy, and married, and those two things have something to do with each other, but not everything.
  • I have a lot of friends and a busy social life.
  • I am never bored.

When I talk about “living to 100%,” it’s this idea I  got a year and a half ago when my nephew Austin died. He would have been 15 last week, by the way– our birthdays were 6 days apart. We celebrated together a few times, and there are few things in the world as awesome as sharing your 27th birthday party with a 3 year old and having a Blues Clues birthday cake. My family thought I was crazy for wanting that. Austin and I “got it,” though. 3 year olds can share well, as long as there’s enough for everyone to have cake and ice cream.

Austin was an awesome kid, and I’m not just saying that as his beloved aunt. He was into everything– he wanted to be a marine biologist… on Mars. He was smart and funny and loving. That kid was generous with himself and his affection. I do not know if he was ever deeply hurt by the stupidity that is human nature, but I like to hope not. I like to think that, whatever bumps he had in his road, he shook them off like the little man he was.

In the end, when it all comes down to it, he had exactly what I have, what you have, and what every person on this planet has.

One life.

We get one life. One hundred percent of one entire life.

We can squander it. We can zone out, get high, stay drunk. We can waste time, be bored, attach to screens, ignore ourselves, ignore the other humans around us.

But we get 100%. What we choose to do with that is up to us.

Don’t get me wrong– my life is full of diversions. I have many lovely hobbies. And I do zone out sometimes in front of the TV, or the computer screen– I’m as guilty of being distracted as anyone.

But part of living to 100% is that I try to do less of that unproductively– I try now to make TV time into knitting time, at the very least. In that way, that time is not wasted (or waisted, as the case so often is with sedentary distractions!) I try not to play stupid games on my phone– little distractions that pull me away from the real world and into the world of bouncing gems or flying birds or dancing candy canes.

I came to a realization earlier this year that I was struggling to breathe after walking up the stairs in my house. That’s… not healthy. I started running again. Time spent running is time I spend filling in my 100% life. It is time that gives back to my body. I have a complicated relationship with my body– for many years, I have treated my body as a thing that carries my brain. Almost all of the things I enjoy can be done with my brain and my hands (yes, even sex– the brain is the biggest sex organ we have!) But my body is more than that, and I have been ungrateful for the legs that power me forward, the heart that keeps beating in my chest, the lungs that fuel me, even when they’re complaining about some new exertion. I do not want to come to the end of my life (whenever that end may be) and have my body fail long before my brain does, powering down in stages until all that is left is my mind, frustrated at the limits imposed by a decaying shell.

I am all right with my body changing as I age. I expect that, I want that. But I also want to change, in some ways, for the better. I am healthier today than I was a year ago.

I am closer to living to 100%.

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