When the Clock Stops: Insights into Death and Aging

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I’m a man of a certain age, as they say, although I’ve no real idea what that means. After all, aren’t we all of a certain age unless the clock has stopped? I know several people whose clock stopped suddenly, and it was heartbreaking, not just because it was so unexpected but also because of the loss I felt.

They ostensibly died of a brain aneurysm, at least that’s what the doctors said, even though there was no autopsy because one was in her late 60s and the other in her mid-70s. Many people think that’s old enough for the machinery to stop suddenly. At least that’s what I used to think when, as a young police officer, I responded to several sudden deaths of folks in their 70s and beyond. Naturally, as a young man in my 20s, I thought that was tragically old, but I expected it because, after all, 70s.

But time has a way of shifting perspectives. Having reached an age where I can reflect on decades of service in law enforcement and a fulfilling teaching career, my view of age and life’s fragility has changed. Firsthand, life’s machinery doesn’t always follow our assigned script. A young, fit criminal running from the law might collapse from sudden cardiac arrest, while an elderly victim of a crime might demonstrate resilience that defies their years.

In my classes, I sometimes weave these stories and lessons into my lectures. My students, fresh-faced and filled with the invincibility of youth, are sometimes a bit unnerved by the realities I describe. I encourage them to see beyond the numbers and recognize that age is not just a chronology but a collection of experiences that shape who we become.

In my quieter moments, surrounded by my dogs and the constant chatter of my African Grey, I think about these things. I watch my tropical fish, so full of life yet so fragile, and realize each moment is precious.

My career has given me unique insights into the human condition, and these reflections have fueled my desire to become a better writer. I want to capture what I’ve learned in words that resonate and endure. What is age but a chance to learn, grow, and share wisdom with others? It is a chance to pass on the torch to the next generation, teaching them to see beyond the surface, recognize the dignity in every person, and embrace life with all its unpredictable twists and turns.

In the grand scheme of things, aren’t we all of a certain age, moving through life with our unique blend of strength and vulnerability? The clock ticks for us all, but how we use our time and learn from our experiences is what truly defines us. That makes us more than just a number in a sea of faces, more than just a retired cop or a teacher. It makes us human, with all the beauty and complexity that entails.

About Post Author

Professor Mike

Professor Mike is a left-leaning, dog loving, political junkie. He has written dozens of articles for Substack, Medium, Simily, and Tribel. Professor Mike has been published at Smerconish.com, among others. He is a strong proponent of the environment, and a passionate protector of animals. In addition he is a fierce anti-Trumper. Take a moment and share his work.
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