Got my shots Wednesday, five altogether; yellow fever, Hep B, tetanus, measles and mumps and rubella and I forget what else. Ouch! I also have to take oral medication to prevent typhus and malaria. It was a little scary, and exciting-- made me feel as though this thing is really happening, I am really going to Malawi.
The nurse put the fear of God into me. Can I swim in Lake Malawi? Sure, if you don't mind getting parasites, many of which are tiny and invisible and burrow into your skin where they then ravage your entire body starting with your small intestine. Oh, there's also dengue fever, which is mosquito-borne and has no known treatment; there's also bird flu, and rabies, HIV, seventeen dfferent kinds of hepatitis, and God knows what else. Don't drink the water. Don't eat any salad or fresh fruit. No ice cubes in drinks. Yeesh!
I've never forgotten to be grateful for my health, because my mom was sick for decades with MS. My ex-husband struggled for years with chronic fatigue that morphed into cancer, which killed him. The man I'm dating now has diabetes. Believe me I wake up every morning and thank God my legs work, my breathing is good, I have some spring in my step. I don't want to lose that--not now, not ever. My health is the one "possession" I guard most jealously--if it's possible to guard that.
But I've always wanted to go to Africa. People there live with parasites--they live with all of it. I don't want to spend my whole life is beautiful, climate-controlled comfort, typing away on my little machine and going to the corner cafe for a latte when I "need" one. So here I am, two days after the shots, my left arm is sore, but I'm madly typing away on my latest idea for a project; something about dreams at mid-life. Not the night-time dreams (although I've always been interested in those), but the dreams which those of us North of forty once harbored, still harbor, tried to fulfill, didn't fulfill, etc.
I'm thinking maybe this could be a book; I told the idea to my friend Tim and he got excited about the possibility for a documentary film. I made up a questionnaire and sent it out to some of my friends. If anyone reading this would like to take it, here it is:
Questionnaire at mid-life
male/female/other age occupation (optional) ethnicity/nationality (optional) Would you be willing to be filmed at some later date for a documentary project?
Only answer the questions you feel comfortable answering—feel free to skip, add, amplify. Please pass this questionnaire on to your friends who are 40 or older. Ask them to return it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “questionnaire” in the subject heading.
1. What were your dreams for your life when you were 18? How is your life like or unlike what you imagined it would be? Is it better or worse than your fantasies?
2. What was the best money you ever spent?
3. What was the worst financial mistake you ever made?
4. Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self?
5. How has sex changed as you’ve gotten older? Any sexual experiences you have yet to live out that you still want to? Any surprising revelations about sex and romantic love as you age?
6. What dreams do you still hope to fulfill that you haven’t yet? What dreams have you given up on? Why did you give them up—what makes you think they are no longer attainable?
7. Who was your hero when you were 18 or 20? Who are your heros now?
8. What did you major in in college and what do you wish you had majored in? Do you still dream about continuing your education? What would you go back to school for?
9. What books, movies, people or experiences influenced you most—created turning
points or openings in your life?
10. What achievement are you proudest of? What’s your biggest regret?
11. Are there any new dreams, influences, or movements that you sense on the horizon?
12. What’s your wildest dream for the rest of your life?
You can send responses to aluterman1 (at) aol.com.