As is customary each April 26th, I had a birthday, and I want to take a moment to thank everyone who made the decision to take a moment out of their day to send me well wishes. Honestly, I don't think it's the words that people say that matter in times like this, it's the fact that they gifted me with a tiny bit of that most precious commodity, their time. The older I get, the more I see the real value in such a thing.
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Sunday, May 1, 2022
Time We Have Wasted On The Way
(As a birthday present, I will engage in some rampant stupidity.)
As I think about getting older, it occurs to me that where I am now is absolutely not like anything I could have ever expected. That's not a bad...or a good...statement; it's just a basic fact. In all honesty, we're all probably far better off that our lives aren't quite so predictable, although that is admittedly a first-world statement of fact. Anyway, a few specific things do come to mind though as I start my 58th rotation around the sun.
You Don't Figure "It" All Out
I always thought that by the time I got this old, I would somehow have magically figured it all out. What "it" means doesn't really matter. "It" is really anything important. And yes, there are things I have figured out. For example, I am reasonably sure of the things I do well, and those things that, quite frankly I suck at. As a corollary to that last statement, I actually have an entire catalog of things that I suck at, but which I still do anyway. Chief among these things is signing...or anything musical for that matter.
The big white element in the room of "things to figure out" is the very notion of what it means to be happy. I have studied this. I have read things from smart people. I have sought out learned advice.
And yet I just don't know. Now there have been times when I have been genuinely happy. It's just that those were very specific events. Part of me thinks that the notion of happiness as being this event-driven thing is just wrong. That's how children think about things; we adults should have this kind of happy baseline thing going on in our lives, assuming we are doing "it" right. In any event, I am going to going to keep looking. And thinking. And maybe considering the fact that happiness isn't something that can or should be intellectualized...maybe such things are the very antithesis of happiness. Maybe I have been happy all along.
I Value Connections (but I'm not good at them...)
The older I get, the more I realize that all humans need connections with others. We need to interact. We need friends and acquaintances. We need people who value us more than maybe we value ourselves. These are people who see us without the cloud of self-perception that hampers our own first-person view.
The reality for me is that I've always struggled with this very basic thing. Oddly enough, I think I am good at connections when it comes to my professional life, but I feel like I have trouble translating that to my personal life. I do have people I consider friends that I met at work, but on the whole, I just wish I were better at this very basic thing.
The Best Things Aren't Things
Growing up we didn't have much. In fact, the very first polo short I ever owned I bought myself at Sears using my paper route money. I now have good clothes, from my Timberland socks to the Columbia long-sleeve shirt I wore yesterday while doing yard work. Ten years from now yesterday's outfit won't matter at all to me, but that first polo shirt (it was navy blue...a Sears knock-off of an Izod polo) will because it was more than just a thing...it was a kind of first step in my becoming an adult life
There's Value In Simplicity
I have come to a deep appreciation of the value that simplicity brings to our lives. That value has been greatly amplified by just how complex the world of information has become. In the early 90s, I marveled at the Internet being a kind of library you could visit anytime online. Now? The value is overshadowed by the machine-gunning messaging that we all face in the connected world. As I think about this, I appreciate even more just how wonderful it is to, for example, see my grass being high, cutting my grass, and then see how much better it looks after that effort.
In The Future
When I think about my life 5 years from now, when I'll probably retire for real, my goal will be to continue to create a simpler life. I don't know that this will make me happier (see above), but I do know that's what seems to make sense at the moment. In the end, I think all we really have is the moment. This moment. Everything else is just time wasted on the way.