Fifty-three days ago I turned forty-six. It was a date that went by with a minimal amount of fuss and zero fanfare. In fact, I think the most memorable thing I did that day was change the filter in the furnace. Most people who hit their mid-life years might ponder and reflect on all the things they’ve accomplished up to that point. I won’t wave my flag and spew out a list of great things I’ve done but I’ll admit that it was an eye-opener for me. I’m 46. I’m still in pretty decent shape. I could still run a million miles, if I had the time. I take pride in the fact that I have no grey hairs in my eyebrows, unlike my brother. Sorry Scott, it’s true. Your eyebrows look like two heavily used toothbrushes. But at 46 I realized that there are most likely fewer days ahead than there are behind. It’s a sobering reminder considering I spent most of my life believing myself to be immortal. I’m not 26 anymore. I’m a responsible adult burdened with… well… responsibilities. And lots of ’em!
I want to say that I love my life the way it is but I’d be lying. I love my wife more now than I did when we first met. I love my children… when they’re not being assholes. I love my job. I love my dog. I love my bed. Oh my god!! Don’t get me started on my bed! My life is beyond great. But as Bono croons, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Why does adult life have to be so damned complicated? I was at the grocery store the other day. The cashier, who looked like Lucille Ball’s evil twin, asked me if I wanted bags. I looked at her with my “are you fucking kidding me?” stare. I looked at the sixty-seven items I placed on the conveyor belt and then back at Lucille. Do I want bags?? I wanted to say “No, thanks. I’ve just finished an advanced juggling course put on by my local chapter of the Cirque Du Soleil. I was hoping to try out my new skills by getting these groceries back to my car.” Then she asks me if I want to donate a dollar to the Sick Kids Hospital. I clenched my jaw and, without looking at her, quietly declined. Then she had the balls to ask me for my postal code as part of some demographic survey. At this point my head is tilted downward and I’m staring at her through my greyless-haired eyebrows. Without moving my lips I enunciate each letter and number of my postal code. I now have small beads of perspiration rolling down my temples. She hasn’t noticed the throbbing vein in the middle of my forehead yet. Then the coup de grâce. She asks me for my e-mail address to send me e-coupons. I just want to buy my fucking groceries. I’m not there to write my SATs or cure fucking cancer. I just need milk. Why does that have to be so complicated?? After 40 even the basic things in life become a major production.
As I write this, my kids are asleep upstairs, my wife is doing her crafts and I’m in my man cave with a Glencairn crystal glass of Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve. This is where I come to decompress. This is where I come to figure things out. When I turned 46 I realized I need to make a few changes. I need to change the way I look at the world. I need to learn to say “no” to people. I need to be more self-aware, assertive, and reaffirm promises that I made to myself many years ago. I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life but nothing that can secure my future (and by association my family’s). I need to find that one idea. I need to leave something behind that says I was here.
I need to make some changes!