Friday, June 02, 2006

Countdown To Death

Yes, today is my birthday. Some ages I have had more of a personal identification with than others. Many ages just seem like arbitrary numbers. I had a genuine sense of being 22, and I had similar feelings about 17 and 19, for some reason. 23, I think, will not seem like much. Kind of like Tuesday having no feel.

Even though I'm very young, I generally find birthdays to be more a reminder of death than anything else. You have a maximum of about a 100 clock ticking away, and each birthday is another step towards your death. How can you do anything but dread the number increasing on that day?

13 Comments:

Blogger angieoh! said...

I was going to wish you a happy birthday but now I think a somber birthday wish seems more appropriate. Hope you are doing something fun!

2:45 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

Thanks. I will be, actually. It'll be like the people on the Titanic who drank martinis, when they knew the ship was sinking.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I've felt that way about birthdays all my life, Chris -- maybe you inherited it from me. And I agree that in the scheme of things, 23 seems like a blah number. But have a completely joyous birthday and a completely nonblah year! You deserve it.

Love,
Dad

3:49 PM  
Blogger Ann Althouse said...

I've always liked the number 23. It's a prime number! Also, the digits are consecutive. How often does that happen... or... oh... I've brought up "the subject." The answer, on your 100 clock, is 8, and now you've used up 2. I, on the other hand, only have 3 left... if I'm lucky. The chances of getting more than that are incredibly bad. You'd have to reach 123.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Ann Althouse said...

And beyond that... impossible.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

I have a feeling the new, fitness-oriented generations will see many people live to be freakishly old and remain physically active into their old age.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

By the way, I think the title of this post is the greatest birthday headline ever.

And apropos of nothing, answering a comment on my site earlier today I received the word verification "uwdame."

9:56 PM  
Blogger Ruth Anne Adams said...

So. Did you send your mother something nice? She had a C-section for you back in 1983. It'll take the focus off your natal anniversary angst.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

All the mammals get about 2 billion heartbeats. If you think of it that way, there are many consecutive primes in your future.

7:32 AM  
Blogger amba said...

Numbers are funny. I always feel destabilized and like I'm sliding downslope on the odd numbers, and stable, like I'm resting on a little ledge or plateau, and get a break from decline, on the evens.

The weird thing, Chris, you'll see (but not for a long time), is how literally true the metaphor "over the hill" is. For years you're climbing, and there's a lot of effort, and all you can see is the slope in front of your face. It's solid, it's challenging, it's engrossing. Then all of a sudden you've peaked (summitted?) and you're headed down, which takes n effort at all (in fact it takes effort to slow it, like those fitness freaks you talk about), and you can see all the way to the bottom. You're a rare case if the fact of death is not concealed from you by the mountain of youth. (You've heard of the fountain of youth, well . . . )

5:06 PM  
Blogger amba said...

That's "no effort," and happy birthday!

5:07 PM  
Blogger amba said...

The vw now is luolo, which sounds like an Italian-Hawaiiian barbecue.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

amba: I think a lot of people feel very conscious of death at a young age. Sometimes, people who have extreme death anxiety when they're young get over it and don't think about it intensely when they're older. I know a lot of people who are my age who act completely not bothered by the idea that they will die some day, and I'm always baffled by how anyone can feel like that. Someone said to me on my birthday that he wouldn't want to live past 80, which I thought was incredibly stupid.

I will probably be one of those fitness freaks at an older age. My plan is to stay in shape for as long as possible, so I can live to be incredibly old, and be physically capable of doing everything until the end.

5:25 PM  

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