Today is my Birthday.
Thirty-five years on this orb. And, if I recall my Sixth Grade Science text, with an average life expectancy for a healthy male hovering somewhere around 70, I have officially hit my half-life.
Wait, who am I kidding. I was in Sixth Grade in 1983, which means I was reading a text book printed in 1951 which, at the time, would have pegged my lifespan at 37 years of age. In fact, I remember wistfully thinking that I would barely make it to the end of the rope in time to see all those fabulous flying cars and other astonishing 21st century marvels. How time flies!!!
Well, here I stand, at the ripe old age of 35, alive and kicking and sending Houghton-Mifflin to Hell for imprinting upon me that premature death sentence. You can debate me all you want but I stand by 70 years old as the current average life expectancy. Of course, as a 35 year old dude fortunate enough to lay claim to three thriving grandparents in their eighties, I’d like to think that I’ll have the great fortune to enjoy many years playing in that bountiful bonus round.
That said, 35 makes one take pause.
I’d be lying if I didn’t fess up to some of the insecurities that plague me on a fairly frequent basis. While I often use this Blog to voice my nonsensical ravings on all manner of pop-culture, every once in awhile I grant my readers a peak behind the curtain to the self-conscious soul conducting this little corner of the web. Hey it’s a Blog – a ‘Web Log’ – essentially my dear diary laid bare for all to peruse, so ya’ gotta’ expect a few skeletons.
So, every once in awhile, real life will intrude and I’ll find myself in one of those soul-searching stretches where I ponder the various twists and turns of this so called life and I’ll let slip a hint or two to my state of mind in hopes that someone among my Constant Readers may see a familiar image in the mirror and decide to share. Simply put – honesty is the best policy and I trust the hell out of all of you. Well, all but the exception of Mr. 1996 (Where’s that guy gone anyway? I was all set to bust out my Twister tribute today, but I guess this will have to do instead).
Geez, talk about rambling. Well, that’s the frame of mind I find myself in today. Thirty-five years old. I could have been born and progressed through high school – TWICE!!!
Yet, I really don’t feel that old. A lot of what I have written above is pure hyperbole – exaggeration simply because isn’t that what we’re supposed to do. Rage against that machine that keeps grinding our gears and wrinkling our faces. Stare Father Time in the eye and hope he blinks first. Hell, Hallmark banks on our fear of getting old with all those woefully unfunny greeting card accoutrements (you know – the Coffin Card that opens with a staticky creak and announces – You’re Turning 40 – Better Off Dead).
Yes, I’m 35. I’ve owned two homes, have two kids, two dogs, two wives (O.K., maybe there is an argument against too much honesty). With that list alone comes a mountain of responsibility. Responsibilities which I like to think I meet head on and shoulder (equally with Andi) without major complaint. At the same time, I find plenty of time for my trivial pursuits. Hell, once my world has turned in for the night, I’m gaming away on the Wii60. It’s therapy for my work-wearied soul.
If I am plagued by anything, it’s that at the age of 35 I don’t feel I have made my mark. Yes, I know how absolutely fortunate I have been to find a loving wife and bring forth two beautiful children. Through my family I have found success greater than my wildest dreams. But, I’m not talking about personal victories. I’m talking about making my imprint upon this world. That indelible impression that leaves ‘em all talking.
When I was back in High School – the first time though (not that second round from 17 – 34) – I discovered my true talent. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. It wasn’t a talent – the ability to write – that I unearthed.
No. What I found was my voice, which I think is more important.
Personally, I find the rules of writing are malleable. It takes a voice to mold them into your own unique shape. I’ve written about this before. Simply put, anyone who says ‘Ain’t isn’t a word’ ain’t much of a writer for ain’t is as powerful a tool as any mixed metaphor you have stashed in your tool box. That’s what I discovered. That once you freed yourself from the confines of structured writing and you really listened to your thoughts and you heard the beats and you caught the cadence, nothing could keep you down. One of the GREATEST compliments I have ever received was from someone who said that they always know something I have written simply by reading it. That they could hear my voice.
Now, that doesn’t mean I am any good (in fact, I think I suck when it comes to the proper form and function of writing) but it does mean that I feel I have a good grasp on expressing myself in written form.
So there’s where 35 stings a little bit. As I round the bend to 40 I find I enjoy each day and feel I have a full life yet there is the nagging notion that perhaps, had I somewhere along the line found the discipline to tether myself to a desk and get busy learning the craft – the way it is meant to be done – that I might, just might, be employing my gifts for a greater good.
I guess that’s what birthdays do. They make us pause and reflect upon another year gone. Was it time well spent or… life wasted?
I don’t know. Maybe the half-life isn’t the best vantage point to make such life-affirming decisions. Maybe we need a larger sample.
I’ll say this much – at 35, I am a happy man. But it is a happiness tinged with a touch of melancholy, for as good as I’ve got things, there’s always something more I want.
Here’s hoping I’ll find it in this Blog.