I think I was maybe 12? Maybe younger, when I first realized I was not going to live forever, that people did not just live forever. That seems old to be discovering that fact, but it's when I had my first experience with a family funeral -- the death of my maternal grandfather. I saw the ritual, the mourning, the disbelief and devastation that the loss of him wrought on my family, and it was odd to think he would no longer be around.
I think I was 30 when the *actual* realization of my mortality hit me. It was then that I made some significant changes in my life -- painful, difficult, with long-term ramifications -- but necessary, as I realized then that I did not want to live the rest of the time I had left in the manner I was living it.
When I was forty, well, that's when I got scared. Not by any particular thing, except the realization that this life, this very life that I was living, would end someday. By forty, I had had all my children, my career was stable, my marriage solid and joyful, and I was living the best life I could ever have imagined for myself. It was in that year, and in subsequent years, that 'things' started to happen around me. Not TO me, but near enough that I felt twitchy. Accidents, unexpected deaths, CANCER, irreversible changes in economic status, career, relationships...all to people I knew, people I loved, people in my sphere of acquaintance. It was, and still is, periodically, enough to make me want to hide. Or to do something reckless, because I'm going to die anyway, right??
Except I have come to the separate conclusion that there really aren't as many opportunities to be truly bad-ass anymore, once you've passed your thirties or so. Definitely by 40, the *chances* of badassery are much less, sadly. Not saying it can't, or doesn't, happen, it's just...less. Badassery in your forties is typically some level of insanity, and is described by others as such. Not that I much care for others' opinions at this point in my life. Although I do, sometimes.
But I digress.
I've come to make a level of peace with the fact that I will be gone from this earth one of these days. Hopefully not soon, and hopefully after my children are well-established in this world. I think the biggest fear of leaving is that I would hurt the ones I love, so I am trying to have as wonderful and fulfilled a life as possible, so that when I am gone, my loved ones can say that I lived my life to the fullest. It's a personal goal. I'm under no illusion that I will leave this world having done all that I really want to do -- that list is long, and monumental, and my personality is such that I am constantly finding new experiences that I want to be a part of. See my previous post about creating, for some of that.
It's pretty likely that I will live a long time more, at least another 40 or so years, given my family history, and my general good health. But I think the drive to create, to make things, make experiences, make memories, photographs, costumes, saddle pads, jewelry, dessert, essays....I think fundamentally all of that comes from a place of a desire for longevity, permanence, a legacy. On some level, I hope I am leaving enough of a mark. On another level, I know I am. Life is an adventure to be lived.