It also happens that my wife and I love hiking and usually walk twenty to thirty miles every week. But between arthritis and tendinitis, it's getting hard to keep up the pace. I'm hobbling around today on damaged feet, and I'm going to have to take a rest for a week or so. This reminds me that I used to bicycle a lot but no longer can because of the surgery I had twelve years ago to fix my knees (which I damaged by overenthusiastic pedaling). Add to that the fact that my wife's younger brother died earlier this summer.
In other words, I'm feeling very mortal today. I'm face to face with pain, infirmity and death. My once-youthful body that could take all sorts of abuse and keep going is now betraying me and paying me back for all of the excesses of the past.
We only get a short seven to ten decades on this planet, and if we're lucky we can live five or six of them in excellent health. Am I done with the pain-free part? Now that I'm fifty-seven, is life going to be a constant struggle? Is my body, now past its prime breeding time, just running on genetic momentum with no real evolutionary purpose? I've done my evolutionary job after all – three great kids each share half of my genes. Am I now evolutionarily irrelevant? Is it time to quietly curl up and die to make room for the next generation?
Nah. Wrong answer. Giving up isn't in my genes.
The problem with being an atheist is that you have to create purpose for your life. There are no pat answers handed to you on a platter. I have to remember my own words and not fall prey to The Scandal of Atheism. It's up to each of us to find meaning and purpose in our lives. We're definitely irrelevant to the universe – I'm not even a blip in the history of the Milky Way Galaxy. But my life has real meaning and purpose to my wife, mother, kids (and hopefully grandkids), brothers and sisters. And I hope it has meaning to you, faithful readers.
So when it comes to physical infirmities, I have to remember that they're temporary. Modern science (not prayers) has remarkable cures for all sorts of ailments. Two naproxen tablets have alleviated most of the tendon swelling from too much hiking and I can walk again. I'll pay a visit to the doctor soon to see what science has to say, and before you know it we'll be burning up the miles again. I still have a lot to live for, and it's worth a little trouble along the way.
I'll die some day, but that's still decades away. In the mean time, I'm going to make some more waves in this pond!