Back when I was (only) 40, my good doctor said, “That Pepsi and M&Ms diet is not working out for you. You’re diabetic. You need to make some changes.” She wasn’t talking small or temporary. We’re talking life changes on a scale that maybe happens if you’ve ever been brave enough to do the fire walk. (Not this tenderfoot.)
Suddenly everything normal was toxic and life-threatening — like nearly everything that tastes good except cucumbers and oregano. Not only that, she said, “You want to cut out stress. Stress will kill you.” This was a harsh sentence for a devout foodie who made his own pasta, had a survival kit stocked with chocolate, and was a young lawyer taking on other people’s stress for fun and profit.
But the sentence was imposed. And after a decent interval for denial, bargaining, mourning and the rest of it, I came to acceptance: The old me had to die (dammit) if I was going live.
But how does that work? Die? Really? Well, yeah, sort of . . . .
In my head there is an imaginary house, with an imaginary room, with an imaginary fireplace. Over that is an imaginary mantel and on that is an imaginary urn. And in that urn are the ashes of Old Greg. Luv that guy! Don’t want to see him go. Those were some good times. So I visit that guy in that room from time to time. And the conversation is short but heartfelt and goes something like this:
I’m in a jar that’s in your head.
Um, yeah. Sorry about that.
But you know you gotta stay there, right?.
. . . .
Those were some good times.
Well, I’m doing good. Walking the walk and all.
Like you were me. All the time. But still . . .
Yeah, I know, like they say in England —
The King is dead . . . .
Long live the King.