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FACE IT: The Best Part of Aging Might Be...

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We've had LOL and FYI and BTW. Now, I submit LTS, as in "life's too short." Far from being a flip dismissal, it can, in fact, be a liberating force for those of us navigating the passage from midlife to beyond.

"One of the benefits of seeing the end in sight is it makes you appreciate the present even more," says psychologist Dr. Vivian Diller, who says that depression is more likely to strike those who spend too much time doing what they don't want to be doing. That may sound less than peppy, but I get the idea. I am finding myself saying LTS more and more, either about people I have known and tolerated, events I can finally acknowledge as hopelessly boring, even TV series that I am sure are worthwhile but perhaps not worth five seasons. That's a lot of hours and frankly, as the years move faster and those hours become more precious, it becomes all about choices.

I am not talking about limits -- the kind we watched our parents experience and swore we never would duplicate. You know, going out less and less, or earlier and earlier. The movie screen becomes the TV monitor, the daily run becomes the weekly walk, conversation becomes a simple nod or groan. No, I prefer to see the LTS approach as fine tuning, great editing. Am I doing this because I want to, or because I feel I should? Am I putting myself through another night out with people who don't listen because I can drop their names to others who are, in fact, better company?

Using LTS, our decisions can become more focused and honest. I don't know how many Springsteen concerts I have left in me (the Boss, my age, can still sing for three and a half hours, but can I stand all that time?), but I won't stop playing his music. There is a kind of freedom in not making yourself trudge through Freedom... or whatever the latest Jonathan Franzen or Robert Caro book may be. Enjoy the excerpt or the discussion on Charlie Rose. But the whole thing? LTS.

Now, in Hollywood, I have learned, LTS is not so much a way of life as an informal list, one that you don't want to be on. Producers and casting agents tell tales of actors with whom they will never work again. Like the well-known TV actress who was brought in for a five-episode arc on a Kelsey Grammar series. "By the first Friday, we all looked at each other and said 'life's too short,'" a producer on the show recalled. The five episodes were reduced to one.

Likewise, Penny Marshall -- now peddling her memoir -- "epitomized LTS," says a writer-producer, who is among many who turned down a lot of money to produce Laverne and Shirley because of its difficult and wearying star. There's no excuse for abusive behavior when you're getting paid way too much money. But I always feel a soft spot for those who have to shine -- let alone age -- in front of millions. They live in fear that their careers may be too short.

Most of us live in a place that judges us less harshly. Still, we are pro-choice in an anti-aging culture and it's difficult to avoid the fight to remain forever young. It's a battle that's ultimately unwinnable and tiresome, and to which we should say LTS. It doesn't mean letting yourself go, or not staying fit and healthy -- even choosing to have cosmetic surgery if the decision is a thoughtful one. It means that as one's life becomes visibly finite, wouldn't we rather be doing things that make it -- and us -- more interesting?

The goal is to look around and see not a large canvas to race through, but a smaller series of snapshots, each worthy of stopping long enough to appreciate. L may be TS, but the moments can be held and savored, accompanied by a de-cluttering of the stuff that likely sounds better than it feels. Did we fill the card just for the act of filling, rather than focusing on what really means the most with the people who really mean the most?

Life is never too short for remembering (if we are lucky enough to be able to!) or even regretting, if the self-reflection has a purpose. But all that time spent on wondering what parties we aren't invited to, obsessing over what movies we haven't seen yet and whining about what schools our kids didn't get into? Well, LTS.