“…when you get right down to it, our lives aren’t measured out in easily-demarcated years. They’re measured in random eras – places lived, loves lost, championship seasons, cars driven, a million overlapping criteria that let us look back and try to gauge the distance we’ve come…
There’s not really anything I want for my birthday this year. Nothing I can buy with money, anyway. I have had everything I wanted in my life, even if I don’t have all of it anymore, or want all of it anymore, and even if I would like some more of what I already had… For today and tonight, though, I’m content with another cup of coffee, dinner with friends, and turning in early to snuggle with my sweetie. Tomorrow will take care of itself. You play the days like you play the games: one at a time.”
-Feb 28, 2011
“The only problem is with trying to find the solution is that this time there isn’t one. At some point, you have to find a way to acknowledge that shit happens, that life is full of randomness and it doesn’t always work out or even mean anything, that we live in a world of chaos and entropy – and you have to find your own light. And for someone whose worldview has always depended on consistent rules and logical solutions, the real world is ever more difficult to cope with… The goal is to live in the now, in the moment – free of both the tyranny of memory and the trap of expectations.
That’s not a problem with a solution either. You just do it, and hope nobody looks too closely at how…”
-Feb. 28, 2012
“Aging sucks. And yet I suppose it beats the alternative. Yes, the sleep is more fitful and the pain lasts longer and the drinks hit harder and the stairs knock the breath out quicker, but fuck it, you’ve been dying from the instant you slid out of the birth canal. You just never paid attention to the fact. Dwelling on it now isn’t going to slow the process down – just do what you can to stay healthy and get on with your life. But every February it’s the same story, and I’m starting to worry that I keep looking back because I don’t know what I’m looking forward to. If it’s not going to be a long slow grind of the same thing every day until the grave, I need to find something to shoot for…”
Huh. Well. If that ain’t a show I’ll kiss your ass.
Here we sit, 365 days on, and everything is just as it was the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that. The goal is the same, but I seem to be falling shorter of it with every passing orbit round the sun. Ever more cognizant that the world, or God, or Loki, or whoever – nobody owes you a happily ever after. Stephen Schwarz’s Godspell notwithstanding, it’s not always all for the best. And the days may be long and drag on, but the years go flying by, each one faster than the last.
I felt it more this year than ever before. Friends and family leave town – over the hill or up the coast or across the country. Others fight through health issues, of increasing seriousness. Work becomes ever more intolerable, to the point where I not only despair of it ever getting better, but despair of it being any better anywhere else. I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels for too long, marking time, treading water, abiding by what’s safe and secure even as the safe ground slowly crumbles beneath us.
Right now, if the Old Scratch himself appeared before me, offering to jump me ahead to age 60, but I’d be retired, with my wife and a healthy pension, and a cottage in a cold seaside town where the cops still carry revolvers and the coffee shop is still where you go for bacon and eggs and gossip, and where the one dive bar in town has a fireplace and doesn’t sell anything more exotic or complicated than Guinness, and where the sputtering air-cooled VW can get us around without the hassle and strain of walking on a bad back…I’d have to think long and hard before turning it down. Assuming I would.
So that’s the challenge: what can I do to make the next twenty years something that I’m not better off just fast-forwarding through to get to my dotage? And if I had to guess right now, I’d say: do the things that make me happy. Go ahead and make the coffee in the morning, go to the public house on the nights they have trivia or live Irish songs, find someplace to sit by the fire and read, sleep in and cuddle with my sweetie, take a walk in the fog, just spend the $20 on the damned Nerf gun, turn off all the devices and watch the Prozac channel on UVerse with the lights out, take the time to meditate with nothing but the rain app or the shipping forecast in the background, buy the books and read them, use the vacation time, go away to Tahoe or Portland or Boston or Ireland or Japan. Cherish the things I enjoy, because – like Dan Brown’s Lounge, or the Antarctica video that the DVR ate, or the Franklin era of Vanderbilt football, or pie beer at Tied House – you’ll always lose them in the end, and be sorry you hadn’t taken the full enjoyment of them when you had the opportunity.
And for the love of everything, if there’s something in your life that sucks, that makes things worse, stop doing it.
I guess we’ll see how well that works out…