A gypsy once told me I would die young. As I was in college at the time, I figured I’d never see 30, 35 tops. So whether I admit to believing in such hocus pocus, I proceeded to defile myself in all sorts of creative ways. For about a decade. And as I survived a decade of excess, I endured next a season of redemption. A decade passed in a flurry of work, home, family, and a general settling down. I’m now 42. What’s next on the other side of the rainbow?
I’m still young by certain standards, so I could go at any time. I really don’t believe in fortune tellers and such, but when someone looks at you earnestly and says something like that, it’s kind of hard to shake. You’d think maybe I’d try for something great – go out in a blaze of glory or perhaps whimper and wallow. Life has been somewhere in the middle.
I’ve wallowed in depression but then I got help. I’ve rejoiced at the great gift of my children – OK, it may not be an objective greatness, but they’re really beautiful and smart and creative and interesting people. I’ve maintained a job and a home which to me is no small feat, as I had virtually no role models other than sitcoms for happy families. There’s nothing like feeling like Leather Tuscadero living amongst the Cunninghams (and if you don’t get that reference, look it up. I’m sure it’s on some retro site. I deal in retro-references now. Maybe I am old.)
Having been brought up to abhor authority and conformity, I always thought that when you found you reached a certain age, it was inevitable you’d either give up and conform or at least be content in your discontent. I still find myself somewhere in the middle. I may be the picture of middle class on the outside but inside beats a heart that’s more in tune with Kurt Vonnegut than Danielle Steele. Jack Kerouac with a touch of Betty Crocker. The thing is, as I get older, I have less to rail against. I feel no machine working against me nor do I feel oppressed by The Man. What makes youth so paranoid anyway? Just looking for a cause to keep busy, I suppose. We must all find our own way.
So I find myself waking up in my 40’s. I don’t want to relive any dangerous excitement from my youth. I am married to a saint so I’m rocking that boat. So where’s the discontent? Can you be happy and creative? I think it’s a challenge to be comfortable and content without being complacent. Going with the flow is pretty overrated. That can be like succumbing to mediocrity.
So the challenge is to reach a point where you can enjoy where you are but look ahead with hopes of something better. Don’t stop creating, giving, living. I think that’s why people take cooking classes, go to the movies, write. It’s also why some people crack up. No outlet for their discontent.
I’m pretty sure I’m still young. I’ve got time.