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As I Live and Breathe

Now 72, I no longer worry about dying, but I would like to talk about death. When I was 13, I wanted to talk about Pat Boone. At 16, I wanted to talk about boys and boundaries. At eighteen, the topic I was most interested in was college and academic subjects, but at 20, we all walked beneath the umbrella of Vietnam which dominated the national conversation. A few years later, Watergate fell upon us as we replicated the lives of those around us, imitating those we most wanted to be, living in their neighborhoods, driving their cars, sending our children to the same preschools, wanting them to go to the same summer camps, enrichment activities, sports teams.

But now, at 72, I have my own life, a practiced life, honed and aped from the best and worst of women. Now, someone may imitate parts of my own life. I want to set a good example. My life is one of wonder and surprise. And gratitude. Mostly.

What we all need to be happy is more love and forgiveness. And what we want to talk about too often is the stock market, hair color, back-in-the-day, nutrition, the current state of affairs, our changing bodies. Mostly not death. By 70, we reached the age it’s almost okay to talk about dying. How do we wish to be disposed of? Where do we hope to be buried or scattered or remembered? Too many forcibly made those choices when loved ones were lost suddenly in battles they could not win. After 72, however, none of us says we don’t expect to die. We know differently.

We know we cannot go around it, jump over it, or dig a tunnel under death. It looks back at us in the mirror. It taps us on the shoulder when our firstborn turns fifty. It breaks our momentum, our hearts, our complacency, and sometimes our purses.

Sous vide is a low-temperature cooking method where food is vacuum-sealed and slowly cooked in a water bath. French for “under vacuum,” sous-vide uses heated water to gently cook food so that it stays juicy and flavorful. The water temperature is well below simmering, anywhere from 125°F to 195°F.

Most of us, I dare say, haven’t thought of being vacuum-sealed nor do we want to cook unless it is well below simmering, but juicy and flavorful sound appealing. So now let’s move forward with intention, especially to avoid hot water. Let’s talk about what is really on our minds.

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