I may have mentioned before that my mind is a sort of cartoon land. Anything silly and nonsensical is the first place my mind goes. Even at times I don't want it to, like in church when the Pastor says 'duty' and I snigger; or when a child tells a complicated story and I am making a note of how funny his facial expressions are and realize I haven't heard a word he's said; or when I dislocate my arm and remember it as a Looney Tunes fall, complete with stars and in slow-motion.
Today I am fifty-two years old and, honestly, feelin' every bit of it. When I wrote out the title above I imagined one of those poles with city names, in this case 'past' and 'future,' on it and the mileage they are away from that point, you know a 'birthday post.' I always seem to run smack into my birthday post, it seems to come out of nowhere and block my path.
I never really cared about my birthday when I was younger, sure, it was a reason to party but, uh... I never really needed a reason to party. I was a lifer in the restaurant business in my later years and no one really cares that you want off on your birthday in a restaurant. I guess it gave me a reason to throw back a few after work with my mates but, uh... I never really needed a reason to throw some back. Now, as I approach and older eon I realize that birthdays are a good reason to examine and judge and overthink your life but, uh... I never really need a reason to... oh you get it.
I wonder if you reach a place, perhaps in your thirties, where you are even, balanced? I ask because for much of my younger days I looked at birthdays as a way to see how far I had to go on my journey, I looked ahead. Now, in my later years I look back, regretfully perhaps, and wonder where I've been. I wonder if there was a day where I stood up and said: "This is the perfect day, this day I am hopeful for the future and pleased with my past!"
I doubt it.
But maybe you come close. The other evening I was playing guitar and my hands were hurting and I stopped and put my head down and, well, a wave of melancholy sort of hit me. I sighed. I felt a small hand on my knee and looked up into Nick's big blue concerned eyes.
"What's wrong Daddy?" he asked.
"Sometimes my hands hurt really bad and it makes it hard to play guitar. And sometimes I feel like no one is listening and I wonder why I still bother." I told him sort of startled into honesty because I didn't know he was there.
"And that makes you sad." A statement, not a question.
"Yes, son, it does."
"Well, I like to hear you play, and so does Zack," he said, his hand patting my knee.
"Thanks, Nick, that means a lot."
I smiled and he touched my face and turned to go back to his LEGOs. He then turned around and looked at me with a knowing look, a look of sudden insight, as though he'd just remembered something.
"Well, God likes to hear you play, too."
Right then, in the midst of my sadness and regret and, to be honest, self-pity, I was reminded, by a child, my child, of the love and joy that this journey is supposed to be about.
Maybe there is a point of balance, maybe there is a place where the past and the future intersect in perfect unity and maybe, just maybe, it's all the time. Maybe, just maybe, it's right now.
So, I'm gonna stop feeling sorry for myself. I wondered what I posted last birthday and, hoping that it wasn't maudlin and self-serving, I checked it out. Here is the link to it, it's cute, and happy. I am glad I was happy a year ago.
I like to write like you are right here in the room with me, it leads to grammatical errors, but, it is how I hear it in my head. The actual truth is sometimes I
His life has been hard, I'll spare you the details, but I do know that he's been homeless and incarcerated and is a recovering alcoholic. He cooked in a restaurant I worked in about a hundred years ago. He's a pretty sweet guy, but, he was sort of a dick when he was drinking. He's a good-ole-boy, and we spoke of camping and hunting and firewood and mothers and hard work and sons and trucks. Finally, the wind kicked up and he said he had to get going.
He turned to go but turned right back around and he had the same look in his eyes that Nick had had. A look of insight and remembering.
"You gotta a pretty good life here, Bill, don't cha? Mind them babies, they grow up fast." He hopped in his beat up F150 and was gone.
He's right, you know, I do have a good life.
It is a bright, cold day and the sun is shining:
I have a beautiful loving family:
There is a happy bunny in the backyard:
We have a cozy home with warm beds:
There is plenty of good food on the table:
I have a late model truck that runs great and is paid for:
We are able to got to the doctor and the dentist when we need to:
In fact, I have everything I need. Everything I need for my body, for my heart and for my soul. In fact, I feel like a king:
Thanks for stopping by today, I feel better than I did when I started this post.
"Mind them babies, they grow up fast." Best exit line ever.
(Also, what is up with that picture Z did of him brushing his teeth? I mean, it's a picture of him, in a mirror, like all in perspective and architecturally correct. Gimme a break, dude. Oh, and I've ordered "I heart tethe" shirts for everyone.)