#288 In which our hero considers a birthday of some import.
There’s a tall thin man standing in the shadows
When he calls your name his voice is strong and clear
It’s a dark and smoky place, so you can’t quite see his face
He pulls you close and whispers in your ear
I turned 40 last year. Actually, since my birthday is in December, it was the end of 2008. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts since then… and I’m not sure I’ve come to any sort of conclusions. Forty is a pretty significant age… by most reckonings, my life is half over. Then again, if I die at 65, like my father, I only have 25 years left. Either way, it’s pretty sobering to consider your mortality.
And he tells you he was born into some money
But it didn’t mean he had to sit around
And he knows a thing or two about the things that you should do
If you don’t want to take life lying down
What I’ve really been thinking about is what kind of mark I’ve made on the world to date. Have I made any sort of difference? What kind of legacy would I leave if I kicked off tomorrow? Have I done anything worth remembering?
First of all hang out a lot with Hemmingway
Spend some time fighting bulls in Spain
You should go three rounds with Archie Moore and Sugar Ray
It’s so damned scary you won’t mind the pain
I dunno. I look at my wife… I’m made her life happier. Not always, I suppose, but most of the time. We’ve been married for eight years, and they’ve all been happy. And we’re still in love. That’s more than a lot of people can say.
Be ringside at the rumble in the jungle
Make friends with Hunter S. and Jackie O.
And when they shoot poor Bobby down, you wrestle Sirhan to the ground
Love your friends and miss them when they go
And I look at my children. I’ve had a bigger impact on their brief lives than anyone else I’ve ever met. And they’re turning out great. So maybe I should be happy with that, that they’re growing up healthy and smart and funny. They’re supported and loved. Who know what the future holds, I’m guessing there will be a lot of yelling and hurt feelings in the preteen and teen years, and maybe beyond. But I do hope they always feel the love of their parents.
So, is that enough? That I’ve helped raised some good kids?
You should write a book or two and start a magazine
Even if it never makes a dime
You should swing out by your feet above the circus ring
At the very least throw parties all the time
I’m always reading about people who have made such a tremendous difference in the world by this age… hell, well before this age. Bill Gates was in his early 20s when he founded Microsoft. Steve Jobs was also in his early 20s when he founded Apple. Stephen King had published four novels by the time he was 30. Lee Clow was named Creative Director of Chiat/Day before he was 40.
And so on.
Enjoy yourself, do the things that matter
Cause there isn’t time and space to do it all
Love the things you try, drink a cocktail wear a tie
Show a little grace if you should fall
But I have enjoyed my life, almost without exception. And I’m the happiest I’ve ever been right now. Love my wife, love my kids. Have a hobby I enjoy a great deal, and, incidentally, I’ve made some significant achievements in said hobby. I don’t have a lot of friends, but have powerful relationships with those I do.
So why do I feel like there’s so much more I should have achieved by now?
Don’t live another day unless you make it count
There’s someone else that you’re supposed to be
There’s something deep inside of you that still wants out
And shame on you if you don’t set it free.
“A Talk with George” by Jonathan Coulton.