Is Life Predictable?

Is life predictable?  Can we see what’s coming? After all, we take out 30 year mortgages.  Thirty years!  Not such a long time if you’re, say, 35.  If you’re 79, do they still give you a 30 year mortgage?  Will you live to pay it off?

We buy items with lifetime guarantees.  Whose lifetimes?  Mine?  The company’s?  The product’s?  To be honest, I was once in Costco and a man was returning an 11 year old car battery.  Costco’s customer service person asked him why he was returning it and he told her it no longer worked.  So she gave him his money back.  Really.  So, if you want a lifetime guarantee go to Costco I suppose.

We expect to pay off the mortgage and reap the returns on our investments, not to mention Social Security or Bituach Leumi. But, is that realistic?  Or even totally honest?  Truth is no one knows what’s in the future.  We only know what’s in the past.  Pretty scary stuff.

Just a few days ago, a very few miles from our West Orange, New Jersey home, in the Township of  Wayne, a very prosaic event was taking place.  A man and his 17 year old son were getting their gas tank filled by a 22 year old new immigrant.  Unluckily for this immigrant, New Jersey is the last of the 50 states to continue allowing full service gas stations.  So this nice young guy was doing his job and this father and son were ready with their credit card, and maybe the immigrant was cleaning their car’s windows, and it was only 9 a.m., not the witching hours when you tend to be more defensive since the drunks may be on the road, and suddenly a car shot off the highway, Route 23, and catapulted the three innocents into early instant deaths.  This was not what their day looked like that morning.  It looked routine.

How different those lives could have been.   The father might have reaped the rewards of his investments and paid off the mortgage.  The son might have excelled at college and become a brilliant scientist, maybe discovering a cure for a terrible disease.  The new immigrant might have become a tycoon.  Or, they could have had lives of struggle and, even, failure, but lived to see progeny and old age.  Not one of them expected to end the day in a casket.  Not one of their relatives saw this coming either.  Who could?

These men may have had great health insurance which didn’t have to pay a shekel.  They never got sick, only dead.

And in terms of knowing what’s coming, I often think about the TV and newspaper pundits before an election.  These days it’s always before an election! These talking heads, and I admit that I’m a major sucker in believing their every word, tell us what will happen, and even though we saw in some very recent elections that they’re as clueless as the rest of us, we still believe that they know better.  Dumb! I am dumb!  Maybe you are too.

And so we live our lives in oblivion.  We make plans. I hear people of my ancient cohort making arrangements for a cruise a year from June.  We buy show tickets and plan smachot.  The truth is that most of those things will take place and the planners will outsmart the crazy worriers like me.  It’s really not possible to live life with the angel of death dangling on our eyeglasses. Mop him up and go on…..and on. Seize life whenever you can!

So, if you expected words of wisdom here, forget it.  We’re all in this together and not a one of us has any guarantee, except for the ending.  It will end.  So try and enjoy every  moment until then. Shop for the best mortgage and the best investments and look ahead to a wonderful life. Enjoy the cruise and the happy events. Why not?

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.