Happy Birthday Jack
“What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way”
Hurt– Johnny Cash version
Call it self indulgent, narcissistic or any other term that you like because I don’t care. Today is my birthday, the not even close to fabulous number known as 42. Yes, today I am 42 and feeling angry, bitter and unhappy.And that my friends is a trifecta that you don’t want, need or deserve any day of the week- let alone on your birthday.
I can provide a long laundry list of reasons why this is so but the recitation of it would bore myself and you. More importantly it wouldn’t change a thing because the bulk of my distress has been caused by one person and I stare at his face every time I look in the mirror. Except the thing that is most noteworthy about that face is that I no longer recognize him. The hairline is very different from the one in my mind’s eye and the lines that have appeared upon it are striking. The only thing that I recognize is the look in his eyes. I know that fire. I know that sadness. I know that determination and the glare that says ‘fuck you world.’
You see that guy that I am looking at is most upset with himself because he has a list of challenges that he feels he should have already overcome. It doesn’t matter whether some of it is outside of his control or that substantial progress has been made on some of the most critical areas. It doesn’t matter because there are other areas that are crushing him. You can call it a war that he wages and say that he is losing some battles but winning others. You can use those euphemisms and talk about how very strong he is and all that would be true.
But it doesn’t change certain fundamental things about his personality and how he views the world. It doesn’t help mitigate the pressure that he places upon himself. He is his own worst critic and biggest enemy. And as he sits at the computer writing these foolish words he recognizes how damn pretentious he sounds so he’ll switch back to first person.
That version of Hurt that Johnny sings is outstanding. I suppose that some people might consider it to be a depressing song but I find some hope in it. I chose that excerpt for a reason because at the moment I find meaning in it, but the part that I focus upon is the last section. I focus on that because that is where I see hope and signs of life. That is where I remember that 42 isn’t 25 and I celebrate that. Damn, I don’t look like I want to or feel like I want to. Physically I feel worn and beat up- but that is not a permanent state. Really it is more of a reflection of that war I referred to and based upon the mental/emotional toll of some challenges that have been placed in front of me.
Not long ago I read a blog post that suggested that we shouldn’t talk about things that could reflect negatively upon us as it could hurt us personally and professionally. I disagree with it and that is because there is a confidence and sense of self that comes with being 42 and not 25. It would be a lie to say that I don’t miss the physical attributes of 25. I sometimes feel frustration when my body doesn’t respond the way that it used to but there is a peace of mind that comes from having life experience. I know that this post is but a moment in time. It is a small blip in what should be a long life, at least if genetics have anything to say about it.
Yet that aforementioned life experience weighs upon me. I firmly believe that force of will can influence things and that some of the changes I want in my life will come because I will them to be so. But having buried more than a couple of friends I feel the weight of time upon me. Sometimes things happen. People get sick or get hit by cars. I don’t think that most people worry about this or really believe that it can happen- I don’t. Even though I have seen it first hand I don’t really believe that it will happen to me, but sometimes I wonder what if.
And that what if drives me to catch some of the butterflies I chase sooner. I don’t have the same amount of time I had at 25 to play so I need to be more focused in some areas. Yet in one of the great contradictions of life I have different dreams at 42 than I had then. You can call them more mature dreams and that would be true. You can say that I am better prepared and more focused to make them happen and that would be true as well. But sometimes I hear that tick tock in the back of my mind and feel like I have to push harder.
There is far more to be said on this but the real world beckons and I need to answer that call. So as this particular post comes to a close let me share a number of quotes that are significant and meaningful to me.
- “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Always do what you are afraid to do.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain
- “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” Thomas A. Edison