Life is Cumulative

When you’ve lived more than 50 years, well, you accumulate a lot of stuff. Like rings on a tree, I can go through my attic and count the years by all the stuff stored under the rafters. Albums from the 1970s, furniture from the 1980s, old computers from the 1990s, and Y2K memorabilia from the new millennium. I think it will take another 50 years to get rid of all this stuff that has accompanied me from one move to another.

Indeed, life is cumulative. After five decades, I wonder how many cups of coffee I drank? I started drinking coffee in college so if I figure about 30 years or almost 11,000 days, that’s probably around 20,000 cups of coffee if I figure 1-2 cups a day. If those were 12 ounce cups of coffee, that would be around 320,000 ounces or 2,500 gallons. That’s like drinking a large swimming pool full of coffee. Talk about staying awake for days.

Then I think about how many cups of coffee I drank to keep me awake while I was driving to get somewhere in a certain time. Like the drive from Chicago to Davenport Iowa; the one-day drive from Maryland to Michigan; a straight shot from Michigan to Colorado; or even late night runs to my girl friend’s college. All those miles inside one of the dozen or so cars I’ve owned with many passing the 100,000 mile mark. All told, I’m sure I’ve logged more than a million miles behind the wheel.

That’s what happens when you start looking back at all those years. You start wondering what it all adds up to. “Where have all the years gone?” You ask yourself as you recall so many things that have come and gone. My wife and I visit places where we lived 10, 20 or 30 years ago and nothing is as it was when we lived there. Everything has changed. The movie theater where we went on our first date is gone. Even our first apartment is gone.

All those years ago, when I tried to envision what my life would be like decades later, I never thought my life would be like it is today. I remember as kids in the 1970s, we once figured out how old we would be in the year 2000. “Wow!” I thought. “That’s really old.” Now, from the perspective of being in my 50s, it seems young. I have lived past the half century mark and I feel very blessed despite some very difficult years. If my life were a swimming pool that I’ve been filling all my life, I would have to say it is now overflowing with blessings.

© 2020, CGThelen


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