The husband relishes numbers, stats and details, which explains why he just handed me a graphic with rows and rows of tiny circles.
‘I thought you might like this,’ he said.
‘What is it?’ I ask.
‘It’s a chart based on a 90-year life span. Each circle represents a month with 36 circles on each line. You can fill in the circles representing the years you’ve lived and see how close you are getting to 90.’
‘Interesting,’ I say, attempting to muster enthusiasm.
‘Very interesting!’ he says with exuberance.
‘Look here,’ he says. ‘I’ve noted where you are on the chart and where I am on the chart. I’m ahead of you!’ he exclaims.
He says it with gusto, as though he is winning a race, unaware of what happens when one crosses the finish line and is at the end of the dots.
It’s not that he is unaware, it’s that he enjoys breaking big pieces into small parts.
His enthusiasm surges again, like a sales shark on television selling a plastic knife that chops, slices and dices a thousand ways, and he says, ‘But wait! There’s more! Because Dad lived to be almost 98, I added circles to the chart expanding it to 100 years.’
Like father, like son. My father-in-law was also a numbers guy. He enjoyed running math computations in his head while others scrambled for calculators. Being that he also esteemed details, he would tell people how old he was in years and quarters. He was 97 and ¾ when he ran out of dots on the chart.
I’m still trying to grasp the exciting part of seeing sand slip through the hour glass.
I’m looking at the chart before me, when the rows of dots naturally break themselves into three parts — life as a three-act play.
The curtain opens on Act 1 filled with excitement and possibilities that appear to be endless, which is what 90 would seem when you are 17. With so many dots ahead, it is nearly an invitation to recklessness. Yet every dot in the first part lays a foundation for all the dots in the second and third parts.
Act 2 is often marked by a growing tedium. The dots slouch, lean into one another and morph into predictability. Yet the second act is where the plot thickens, new storylines take root and characters grow in complexity.
Before you know it, Act 3 takes you by storm. I recently crossed over into the third act. I’m in the early scenes of the act, but nonetheless, it is after intermission.
The snack bar has closed.
There is a renewed vigour, a new intensity, wondering how to pack it all in. There is also a culmination of all the dots that have come before and a reordering of the things that matter most.
The key at any age, no matter which act or which scene, is to appreciate the dot you’re in and those who are in it alongside you.
Seize the dot!
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