I don’t know about you, but I’m 54. I didn’t exactly anticipate drifting off into the sunset at this age, happily surrounded by every material thing I could imagine. I’m not ready to drift off anywhere yet.
I’ve been lucky in life; lucky with my parents, lucky with my education, lucky with so much of what has come to me, some of which I earned and some of which I simply, well… lucked into. So I can’t complain. And I certainly never asked for mansions or yachts or diamonds dripping off me. Which, as it turns out, I didn’t get. But I live well enough.
What I didn’t expect was this creeping dread. This lingering feeling that I can only compare to the omnipresent fear of nuclear annihilation that I grew up with. We at St. Mary’s School did the drill regularly, climbing under our desks with our hands over our heads and experiencing the peculiar confusion that hits a seven-year-old when she’s trying to contemplate how a wooden desk could stop the mushroom clouds. But Sister said to do it, so we did.
And thus I grew up knowing that someday, probably, unimaginable destruction would visit my neighborhood. If not today, then soon.
Of course it never happened, and slowly that amorphous fear dissipated. Around the time the Soviet Union imploded, it disappeared. Sorta. Kinda. Leaving only the shadow of the original fear. Once you live with that type of long-term dread, it doesn’t ever go away completely.
What I didn’t worry about was economic concerns. My dad talked about (and reacted to) the Depression his whole life. His worldview was shaped by that experience, much as I am sure today’s young people will be influenced by our current financial straits.
I worried about money in the normal way; there were ups and downs, but there was always money for food and shelter and the occasional movie. Sometimes lots more than that.
But now… the fear has come back. This kind of “we don’t know how bad it will get, or how to solve it” feeling that you can’t get your mind around, except as a frightening specter. A concern that the unknown might be coming… the unknown that could be worse than you can handle.
It’s okay for now; I’m young yet. I’m not excited about feeling this kind of dread ten, twenty, thirty years from now.
That would be bad.
But then again, maybe by that stage I won’t really see past the small circle of my days and my intimates. And I won’t know.
And I won’t care.