Archive for the ‘Growing Older’ Category

24
Nov

51

   Posted by: Scrivener

On my 51st birthday

My thoughts on my recent birthday or as Jimmy Buffet might say, "A pirate looks at 51."

The day was chill, damp, and hooded by a smooth slate-gray cloud cover. A typical late November day remembered from my childhood in Wisconsin. Only this day was yesterday, and date was August 15th, the 227th day of the year, and the first day of the 51st year of my life. Yesterday, November 23rd, was my 51st birthday, I was in Georgia, and having more trouble dealing with this birthday than I did on what should have been the big watershed day a year and a day ago.

I didn’t get a chance to enter this article yesterday, my birthday, because I spent most of the day on the phone with well-wishers and congratulators with birthday felicitations. Additionally, there is a pile of Facebook entries that need responses. However, I don’t frequent Facebook so if any of you left yet unacknowledged birthday greetings on my wall, thank you and I’m sorry; I’m not snubbing you—not this time anyway.

“…There are more days behind me than ahead of me.”

–Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek—Generations

It’s November 23rd so what is that August 15th date about? Allow me to explain. As I said, I’m having difficulty dealing with being 51 and was reminded of a quote by Capt. Picard in the movie, “Star Trek—Generations” about how there were more days behind him in his life than ahead of him. I think that Jean-Luc and I are both the-glass-is-half-empty type of guys. The idea struck me to relate the year of my life to a day within the calendar to see just how few days I had ahead of me and arrived at August 15th. Therefore, I have 138.25 days left in my ‘year-life.’

For those of you interested in the math, there follows an explanation of my reasoning. First, reconcile number of years lived to some fraction of a year. To do that you need to know what your expected lifespan. I checked several web sites that asked questions about life style, overall health, family health, current age, weight, height, and outlook and determined that my average life expectancy ranged from a low of 76 years to a high of 88 years. I picked a number near the middle, and settled on 83 years. Eighty-three is a good number; numerologically, it’s a 9, which is the cube of 3, the number of the Goddess. Once average life expectancy is know, just grind through the arithmetic:

Consequently, the 227th day of the year is August 15. It’s still late summer for me; on the Wheel of the year, that puts me between Lughnasadh and Mabon. I haven’t yet reached my favorite season of autumn.

“…in the throw-away culture of the US, people are too consumed with consuming…”

An intellectual exercise and perhaps a bit of melancholic to be sure, but I’m reminded of another scene from a different Star Trek movie where McCoy wonders aloud why everyone is treating Kirk’s 49th birthday as though it was his funeral. This sentiment is commonplace in the decayed, twisted, and youth-crazed culture of the US. Shoot your lips, forehead, and ass up with poison botulism lest you fall victim to the worst poison of all: aging. While other cultures revere and respect age, equating it with wisdom, in the throw-away culture of the US, people are too consumed with consuming all available resources whether it’s raping the Earth for metals to fabricate SUV monstrosities nobody needs, or text messaging (“texting”) mindlessly 24 hours a day, making they use all their monthly cell phone minutes.

I’ll admit to feeling a bit more melancholic (or maybe a teeny bit sorry for myself) about completing another trip around the sun than I did last year. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been out of work for over a year and my UI payment are running out; or perhaps it’s disillusionment born of a half-century of experiences. Because I always thought, that at 51, I’d be in a different place.

“…Well we’re waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved…

–Billy Joel

Remember in grade school (well, those of you who actually went to school), they told us that we’d all retire at age 40, or at the latest age 50? Remember they told us by the time we reached age 50 we’d be set financially? Remember the TV shows that depicted middle age America owning a six-bedroom house while working at a job that not only apparently paid well (how else could they afford a six-bedroom house) but was meaningful and fulfilling?

Well, the bastards lied to us.

I know, as if I should be surprised.

It’s only natural for one to take stock of your life periodically at important birthdays. My landmark birthdates, so far, happened to be 23, 36, and 51. Therefore, at the beginning of my fifty-first year, let’s take stock of my life to date. Like the Jimmy Buffet song, I’ve been and done various things so far in my life. I’ve been a programmer, web site designer, marine, pilot, marathoner, artist, and writer, sometimes concurrently and sometimes separately, during the different seasons in my life. I’ve loved four women, one who I’ve been married to for 27 years. I have two children and three grandchildren. Several years ago, I published a novel and my three (like those radio DJ fans who are always referring to their three fans) fans say it doesn’t suck and in fact is quite good by any standards. Just last year, I lost five of my best friends in a fire only to find three new animal friends. I have many and varied interests; in fact, I am the last Renaissance man.

One thing, that as a writer that I possess, besides a sparkling yet brooding prose style, is a half-century of perspective. Like James Michener (Yes, I referenced someone who could actually write), I was first published while I was in my forties. And unlike the twenty-something hacks who mistake self-absorption for depth of character, and then wonder why their writing voice (or should I have said, “whining voice”) sounds like the squeaking of a mouse before a hurricane, my writing has something to say.

However, it’s not the fault of the poor twenty-somethings. How can they be expected to have anything worthwhile to say when their greatest travail to date has been flat foam on their triple-mocha-caramel-with-extra-whipped topping-and-sprinkles latte, for which they couldn’t even be bothered to ooze their wide asses out of their SUVs and walk into Starbucks, but rather wasted fuel by sitting in the drive-through? Nor have they done anything yet in their hitherto vapid lives, unless watching reruns of Friends counts. They really don’t have a cause to be so self-centered (Oh wait that’s not selfishness, they have complicated personalities) since they haven’t accomplished anything to earn that right. So since they probably don’t read complete sentences, allow me put this message in terms their addled Blackberry-brain-drained minds can understand: Ur writing svks becuz u fail. I believe we should save the remaining good genetic stock by not allowing those people to breed.

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…

–Frank Sinatra

There are only two major changes I’d make to my life, and most assuredly there are several smaller changes I’d like to make. That’s not too bad a place to be in when you think about it. Everybody has things they’d change, but I have only two (maybe only one) events I’d risk traveling back in time and tampering with this current time thread. For, I’m reminded of yet another Star Trek metaphor (last one I promise.) It concerns the episode where Picard dies. In that episode, Q gives Picard the chance to go back in time and change his one regret. However, when he does and Q restores to Picard life, Picard finds he is not the man he was in his former life; in fact he’s a little bureaucratic worm and not the starship captain and forceful leader that he remembered from his previous life.

Once Q restored Picard’s life and his former timeline, and Picard was once again back in the reality he remembered, he explained to Number One that he believed his life to be like a tapestry. He had pulled upon a single loose thread and thus unraveled his life.

The tapestry metaphor is especially appropriate for a Star Trek episode (given string theory) but I prefer a chess game as a more fitting metaphor for my life. In chess, every move changes the character of the game by eliminating some possibilities and making others possible. In the first part of the game, the pieces jockey for position and tactical advantage; in the middle game, skirmishes are fought and pieces exchanged in order to ‘simplify’ the board positions; and finally in the end game, that is where the true master can win a lost situation, this is where the real playing of the game occurs. The end game is the hardest to play and the most interesting part of a chess game.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

–Max Erhmann

Desiderata

Just as in a chess game, my current life situation is the result of the “moves” I’ve made in the game thus far. There are things I’d change to be sure, but not too many things. I’d change some small things like never falling off the workout wagon, being more tolerant of stupid people and channel less rage (although that might affect my magick), and being more productive in my work, writing, and art (although there’s a lot to be said for the quietude of mind found in retired idleness.) We are the product of the thousands of decisions we make over our lifetimes (small and large alike) and if I hadn’t made the decisions I have, I might find as Picard did, that my life as I know it would have unraveled like a time travel tapestry snagged on a change in history. I might never have come to find magick; I might not be leading a coven; I might not have known the loves I have or be on this path. Whither the path leads, only the Gods know—or maybe they don’t, or they just don’t care. Nevertheless, I have to believe that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. In short, I am following my own True Will. In short, whether or not I know it, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Then again, maybe I’m and wrong, and the universe is really more like when Kirk said to Spock, “No, Mr. Spock,…not chess,…poker.”

The day was chill, damp, and hooded by a smooth slate-gray cloud cover. A typical late November day remembered from my childhood in Wisconsin. Only this day was yesterday, and date was August 15th, the 227th day of the year, and the first day of the 51st year of my life. Yesterday, November 23rd, was my 51st birthday, I was in Georgia, and having more trouble dealing with this birthday than I did on what should have been the big watershed day a year and a day ago.

I didn’t get a chance to enter this article yesterday, my birthday, because I spent most of the day on the phone with well-wishers and congratulators with birthday felicitations. Additionally, there is a pile of Facebook entries that need responses. However, I don’t frequent Facebook so if any of you left yet unacknowledged birthday greetings on my wall, thank you and I’m sorry; I’m not snubbing you—not this time anyway.

“…There are more days behind me than ahead of me.”

–Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek—Generations

It’s November 23rd so what is that August 15th date about? Allow me to explain. As I said, I’m having difficulty dealing with being 51 and was reminded of a quote by Capt. Picard in the movie, “Star Trek—Generations” about how there were more days behind him in his life than ahead of him. I think that Jean-Luc and I are both the-glass-is-half-empty type of guys. The idea struck me to relate the year of my life to a day within the calendar to see just how few days I had ahead of me and arrived at August 15th. Therefore, I have 138.25 days left in my ‘year-life.’

For those of you interested in the math, there follows an explanation of my reasoning. First, reconcile number of years lived to some fraction of a year. To do that you need to know what your expected lifespan. I checked several web sites that asked questions about life style, overall health, family health, current age, weight, height, and outlook and determined that my average life expectancy ranged from a low of 76 years to a high of 88 years. I picked a number near the middle, and settled on 83 years. Eighty-three is a good number; numerologically, it’s a 9, which is the cube of 3, the number of the Goddess. Once average life expectancy is know, just grind through the arithmetic:

Consequently, the 227th day of the year is August 15.

“…in the throw-away culture of the US, people are too consumed with consuming…”

An intellectual exercise and perhaps a bit of melancholic to be sure, but I’m reminded of another scene from a different Star Trek movie where McCoy wonders aloud why everyone is treating Kirk’s 49th birthday as though it was his funeral. This sentiment is commonplace in the decayed, twisted, and youth-crazed culture of the US. Shoot your lips, forehead, and ass up with poison botulism lest you fall victim to the worst poison of all: aging. While other cultures revere and respect age, equating it with wisdom, in the throw-away culture of the US, people are too consumed with consuming all available resources whether it’s raping the Earth for metals to fabricate SUV monstrosities nobody needs, or text messaging (“texting”) mindlessly 24 hours a day, making they use all their monthly cell phone minutes.

I’ll admit to feeling a bit more melancholic (or maybe a teeny bit sorry for myself) about completing another trip around the sun than I did last year. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been out of work for over a year and my UI payment are running out; or perhaps it’s disillusionment born of a half-century of experiences. Because I always thought, that at 51, I’d be in a different place.

“…Well we’re waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved…

–Billy Joel

Remember in grade school (well, those of you actually went to school), they told us that we’d all retire at age 40, or at the latest age 50? Remember they told us by the time we reached age 50 we’d be set financially? Remember the TV shows that depicted middle age America owning a six-bedroom house while working at a job that not only apparently paid well (how else could they afford a six-bedroom house) but was meaningful and fulfilling?

Well, the bastards lied to us.

I know; I should be surprised?

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

–Max Erhmann

Desiderata

It’s only natural for one to take stock of your life periodically at important birthdays. My landmark birthdates, so far, happened to be 23, 36, and 51. Therefore, at the beginning of my fifty-first year, let’s take stock of my life to date. Like the Jimmy Buffet song, I’ve been and done various things so far in my life. I’ve been a programmer, web site designer, marine, pilot, marathoner, artist, and writer, sometimes concurrently and sometimes separately, during the different seasons in my life. I’ve loved four women, one who I’ve been married to for 27 years. I have two children and three grandchildren. Several years ago, I published a novel and my three (like those radio DJ fans who are always referring to their three fans) fans say it doesn’t suck and in fact is quite good by any standards. Just last year, I lost five of my best friends in a fire only to find three new animal friends. I have many and varied interests; in fact, I am the last Renaissance man.

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention

–Frank Sinatra