The birth of twins to that 73-year-old woman in India has me scratching my head and also wondering about things.
Specifically, what are the things that I am absolutely sure I will never do? The whole “never say never” question comes into play here. Generations of doctors have been quite sure of the cut-off for giving birth, and it hovered around age 60, which happens to be my age now.
I will never give birth to twins – that’s a sure thing. I will never be an Olympic pole-vaulter or the designer of skyscrapers. I will never teach high school calculus or become an underwater welder on an oil rig. Also, I will never be a backup singer for a rock star, which is a major bummer.
These are the things I think of during mundane tasks. It’s a way to test my vigor for the many possibilities of life. I’ll think of the things that other people accomplish and I place odds regarding my own chances.
When I was in my 20s and the world was just beginning to unfurl, I would make lists, and it was hard for me to come up with anything that I could cross off with certainty. Even highly improbable things like “Win the U.S. Tennis Open” stayed on the list because I played a lot of tennis. The fact that I was pretty awful at it didn’t figure in my thought process. I was young. Anything could happen.
Same with things like “join the Army” and “become a senator.” Although they weren’t necessarily among my aspirations, who could say where life could lead? Pondering this became not just whimsical daydreaming but a veracity challenge, which I extended to others I knew. What things, at age 80, would my dear grandmother never do? Compete in the Iditarod? Certainly not.
My younger self wondered: Would I ever grace the cover of Newsweek? Maybe, but not for the right reason. Become a pilot? Unlikely but possible. Star in a soap opera? Possible. Design my own line of evening gowns? Possible. When you’ve got two-thirds of your life still ahead, you embrace the coming turns in the road. As a teenager unsure of career, I might have said I’d never work on television, but I was too young to see the possibilities.
My college friends and I used to play a version of this, in which we tried to come up with a phrase that had never been spoken before. Being lazy, we landed on things like, “Please don’t double my salary,” and “No, I don’t want anyone to invent a machine that removes calories from chocolate cake.” How interesting it would have been to make our lists of possibilities – to compare our dreams and self-imposed limitations then with the lives we have now.
There are still things I won’t cross off my list: writing a book, cycling across the country, winning a documentary Oscar, moving to a tiny house in the woods with a stack of books. All seem unlikely, but who knows.
I always thought I’d like to climb Mt. Everest; lots of twenty-somethings say that. But there is no way I could do it now because I have asthma. As an avid cyclist, I used to fantasize about competing in the Tour de France, but that’s not going to happen, either. The Army wouldn’t take me now, and I dislike meetings so much I could never be a senator.
So I suppose it’s time to add these to our list of phrases that will never be spoken: Sen. Beth Dolinar. Sherpa Beth Dolinar. Beth Dolinar won the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. No, never. I’m afraid it’s too late.