We all have a finite period of time here on planet earth. No one knows if there’s an encore, or not. I’m betting there isn’t.

Given that our days, breaths, and narrative arc runs up against “the end” at some point, why do we piss away so much of our productivity and creativity? That’s the kind of existential question that warrants a much longer treatise than I’m going to give it today.

Richard Ford has a new book. It’s another meditation on the life of one Frank Bascombe. I haven’t devoted much time to Ford’s writing, but based upon Wednesday night’s intriguing interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, I’m likely to read the new novel.

Bascombe on aging.

Bascombe on aging.

Ford’s book and protagonist are up against the awareness that he’s 68 and that he isn’t going to be around forever—whether his remaining time is 10 years, 10 days, or 10 hours. As a result, he begins pairing down elements in his life and being much more intentional about what’s important, and what’s a monumental waste of time.

How did Ford’s latest meditation on Bascombe end up in the realm of aging, or “aging in place,” as the professionals like to say? Here’s Ford, speaking to Gross.

“I sort of went through life thinking that when you got to be in your 60s that basically you weren’t good for much,” Ford tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “That’s a younger man’s view. I know that the AARP phones are ringing when I say that, but now I’m 70 and I don’t think that anymore, OK?”

As an aside here, can I just say that our new crisis about “aging in place” is far too focused on trying to compensate for a lifetime of selfish decisions, poor choices, and like so much in America at this juncture—trying to mitigate cause and effect. Whether your 18 or 68 (or 88), there’s more to life than just you. Find something you can be passionate about, and get at it. Life without passion isn’t worth living—it’s just about being a placeholder.

Bascombe begins eliminating words and people. There are words that I’d be happy to cut from common usage—today’s word is “absolutely.” I hate that hackneyed response. There are also plenty of assholes that are content to suck the life out of you and cut into your creativity.

Moving on from words and people, the possibilities are endless.