I guess I am still too young to be thinking about death (turned 48 couple of months ago), however, I am reminded on a daily basis that my body is aging. More lines on my face, I do not recover as quickly from working in the yard and other physical exertion, etc etc.
On the otherhand, having a more mature outlook on life in general, eating better, exercising etc., I am enjoying life more now than ever before. When "older age" and sickness become a real problem, I will have to re-examine all things. My father and his parents had decent health up until their early 80's. (grandfather passed at 92, grandmother at 99, father at 89) Hopefully that is some indication that I have at least 30 good years left. Factor in better medicine, replacement parts over the next 30 years, one could conceivably enjoy life into their 100's.
A grade school friend, Neenah Ellis, wrote a book based on her interviews on NPR with people who were still leading productive lives after turning 100. Here is a link to review of the book. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0609608428/102-0943814-9037713?v=glance&vi=reviews
Finally, the topic of your thread reminded me of an Indian "saying" found in lots of old movie Westerns: Today is a good day to die. Putting that phrase in the search engine yielded this essay:
During the pre-Vietnam war era, American youths grew up on a steady diet of westerns. White actors would paint themselves red, and say “how” and “firewater,” and then dance around a bonfire like novices from an introduction to modern dance class.
At dawn, the proud warrior chief (with a Gold’s Gym physique) would mount his painted pony; point his spear at the noble cavalrymen and peaceful white settlers and say, “Today is a good day to die. We attack!"
Naturally, we assumed that the chief was saying, “let’s kill and butcher as many white eyes as we can before we all die like good braves.” Whereupon, the chief would lead his howling braves into a hail of Winchester bullets and they would all die like lemmings marching off a cliff. No wonder self-respecting American Indians refused to act in these early western action films and TV programs.
But did American Indians ever say, “Today is a good day to die”? Yes they did, but their meaning was different because it was spiritually profound. What they meant is: If this is to be my day of death, I know in my heart that I am at peace with those whome I love, and that I have achieved many if not all of the important goals of my life.
Therefore, the differences between the ersatz TV-Indian version and the real version are honest introspection and spiritual preparedness.
As a country, we’ve blinded ourselves to the fate of the dying as thoroughly as we have to the real meaning of the phrase, “Today is a good day to die."
Proof of this, is the fact is that while 3/4th of all Americans say they’d rather die in their own beds, 3/4th of all Americans actually die in a hospital bed.
Like the TV westerns of yesterday, America is consuming a steady diet of misconception about death and dying and it causing grief and crisis for the terminally ill as well as their loved ones.