The careless years


How much time do we really have? How much of our lives do we waste?


By Caitlin Kelly

It’s not carefree.

I wish.

It’s “I don’t care.”

It’s a by-product of getting older, having less time to do what I really want to do, not keep meeting endless, endless financial obligations.

It’s getting a crappy diagnosis that instantly — however much a cliche — changes your perspective on life and what matters most.

It’s not rushing to people-please.

It’s cutting out chatter and acquaintances who suck up your energy and return little of value.

It’s avoiding activities that simply don’t offer sufficient pleasure.

It’s adding those that do.

We spend our lives working and working and working and trying our best to please everyone.

Those are noble sentiments and we all have bills to pay.

Nor am I arguing in favor of total disengagement or disinterest in the needs of others.

But, at this point in my life — and that of other women I know who’ve faced recent health issues — we really don’t care about the usual rules anymore.

When you really realize how little time we’re given and how quickly it can all change or disappear, caring about things that actually mean very, very little just….stops.


16 thoughts on “The careless years

  1. Robert Lerose

    The short answer is: yes, you’re right. When you’ve faced a life-changing event (note the deliberate choice of that word), it can give you a clearer idea of what is REALLY important or life-affirming or genuinely valuable in our lives. I did an interview with Kurt Eichenwald that was posted today on Folks. I spoke to him about his memoir on dealing with epilepsy. It was a candid and sometimes harrowing read. A couple of times, I wanted to put the book down, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was also riveting. Anyway, despite all the pain and trouble and near death experiences he went through, he said that he would not change a thing. When I asked him why, he said, in part: “One thing about facing your own mortality is, it leads you to cherish life.” One could add: and to cherish time, too.

  2. I’ve known for years how fast time gets away from us. That’s why I spend so much time trying to accomplish my dreams, even if I spend the majority of my time in an office or asleep. And given what I’ve managed to accomplish this year, I’d say that effort hasn’t been in vain.

  3. It’s really interesting how sleep affects our health positively, and how lack of sleep has the opposite effect. About five years ago my wife was going through chemo treatments for stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer, and sleep was the absolute best thing for her and her ravaged body. Actually, Caitlin, you commented on one of my posts where I had written about some of the experiences she was going through five years ago now. It was the comments and support of complete strangers such as yourself, along with the family support that was extremely helpful to my wife along with the sleep, so thank you. A quote that I read recently from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love and a featured speaker at a couple of TED conferences , on the loss of her partner …

    “That’s humility, and it is true, and you don’t get to know why … You’re not allowed to. Those answers are not for you, and they’ve never been for anyone, for all of time. Nobody gets to see into that — and that, again, is part of that warehouse of mystery that I’m growing more and more comfortable with. You don’t get to see why this goes this way. It just does. It just is. It just did, and it’s not pretty. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert”

    The best of luck to you …

  4. yes, i’m quite sure a diagnosis leads to a major paradigm shift. sounds like you are on a good path to a content and fulfilling approach to life. the older i’ve gotten, the more i’ve become that way, too.

  5. Edmonton Tourist

    I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and now live a new normal. Time is too precious to me to waste on people or events that are meaningless. I agree with you, I care less, but I’m also carefree.

  6. I have read this post and all the comments again and again since you put it up and I still don’t know what to say. I have a therapy appointment this afternoon and this will be our topic of discussion. I can say thank you for that. I can also say I hope to still be reading your stuff when you are ninety-five.

    1. Thanks.

      It was, to some degree, the exhale after a summer of perky performative behavior…now I am weary of the fake smiles and false cheerfulness. Went to the radiation MD today (all looks fine) and my GP — in whose office I started crying again and he was very gentle and kind and said “this is all normal.” Bits of me are fine: excellent dental checkup this week and got pneumonia and flu shots today as well.

      You really just live in fight or flight mode for month after month — mammo/biopsy/surgery/infection/drainage/radiation….and it’s NOTHING compared to many others with much worse.

      But it is very tiring. So now I am mostly just tired.

      Ninety-five –we’re on!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s