Friday, January 19, 2007

Why I will never be a size 8

Art Buchwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author, died Wednesday after having been ill for several years. He'd withdrawn from dialysis treatments a year ago, with the expectation that he'd die within several weeks ... but somehow he kept going, writing columns until very recently. He wrote his own obituary, and recorded a video obituary which was available on the New York Times web site.

I usually don't read obituaries, but there was one paragraph in Buchwald's final column that caught my eye. Made me cry, actually, because I know so many people who are going to end up thinking the same thing. Here it is ...

For some reason, my mind keeps turning to food. I know I have not eaten all the eclairs I wanted. In recent months, I have found it hard to go past the Cheesecake Factory without having at least one profiterole and a banana split. I know it's a rather silly thing at this stage of the game to spend so much time on food. But then again, as life went on and there were fewer and fewer things I could eat, I am now punishing myself for having passed up so many good things earlier in the trip.

Maybe it's shallow, but this strikes a chord with me. I've always had the philosophy that we work to make money to use to both save for the future AND enjoy ourselves now. We have friends who were raised in families with a "save save SAVE" mentality, and they squeeze the most out of every penny now with the expectation that they'll be able to retire early and comfortably. But right now they scrimp and save and don't use the money they have for fun things ... which is fine for them, if everyone in the family is okay with that. But I'm much too pessimistic to be sure I'm ever going to live long enough to retire - I want to enjoy myself now, as much as I can while still making prudent plans for the future.

So we save in our 401Ks and mutual funds ... but we also go on vacations and have expensive hobbies and go out to eat and don't scrimp on gifts for holidays. If I was diagnosed with a terminal illness, forget hospice care, I'd set up a bed in the lobby of a chocolate factory. And they can bury me in a piano crate, along with copies of all the photos we took on our vacations; at least I won't die thinking I haven't had enough eclairs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for eclairs!

I agree. I only want to stay skinny enough so that I'm healthy and won't die early. Otherwise, let's have the brie and wine and roasted duck with dinner.