Can You Order Off Of Life’s Menu?
Midnight has come and gone but I am back at the computer because I am compelled to write so that I might clear my head and figure out next steps.
Step inside my head and look at the man with the wry smile and the insouciant attitude laugh at the guy who is asking Life’sÂ MaÃ®tre d to provide some more insight regarding what comes with this particular plate.
That is because he didn’t really ask if you can order off of life’s menu because the dude already knows the answer. You don’t have to take a number or wait in line to do so either.
Just yell at the counter person you want a double dose of laughter with a side of sadness, one small anger and some bittersweet drink to wash it all down with.
But do yourself a favor and try not to piss them off because they’ll pack your dessert with extra regret and that shit leaves the sort of bad aftertaste you can’t just get rid of.
You Can Conduct But Not Control
Memories float by and I stop to look and listen.
The boys and I are standing around the backyard at the fraternity house, beers in hand, girlfriends standing in a circle nearby we hold court.
We’ll drink our beers, dance with our girls, hang out some more and then head off to our apartments for a nightcap with our ladies.
Somewhere around noon I’ll wake up and think about what a great night it was. Hung out with some of my best friends, had amazing sex and we’ll do it all again throughout the week.
Got another year or so left of school, unless I decide I really am going to go to law school but it doesn’t matter to me because any way I look all I see are golden roads filled with endless opportunity.
A quarter century later and life is different. Some of the guys have died and more than a few have gotten divorced.
Now when we gather the conversations are different than they used to be. They are not always filled with rays of sunshine nor are they bitter bitch sessions in which we talk about how unfair life is.
It is a mix and you never know what side you are going to be on or if you’ll find that middle mystical place called balance.
The lesson we have learned is you can’t control life but you can do your damnedest to conduct it.
More than a chunk of years later I’ll tell my son to do his best to avoid stupid confrontations because they are rarely worth it.
He and I will speak in depth about it and I’ll tell him I could have saved myself trouble if I didn’t respond to every barking dog I encountered on the road.
When he asks me to explain what I mean I’ll tell him it took his old man a long time to really learn how to walk away from confrontation.
“My whole life I have been fast with my words and when necessary fast with my fists but they don’t give out awards or rewards for the person who wins the most arguments regardless of whether they are based in stupidity, sincerity or a combination of the two.”
He’ll nod his head and tell me he understands and I’ll think about what sort of profound advice I can give him. The snark and sarcasm will remain in my head but the good intentions will try to come through my lips.
I want my kids to do better than I have done. I want a better and easier life that is filled with more joy than sadness.
In short I want the same thing for them that every parent wants for their kids but I haven’t figured out yet how to make that happen.
Divorce Made Me Cry
The guys and I are playing poker and talking.
“Dude, my divorce made me cry. I never thought it would happen to me. I tried so damn hard to make it work, but she always expected me to do the heavy lifting.”
We all listen and when he stops talking we tell him we are sorry.
“Don’t be sorry, it sucked getting divorced but I have never been happier. Took a long time to get here, but Kathy is great and if I hadn’t gotten divorced I would have remained a miserable prick. What kind of father would I be if I didn’t try to make life better for my kids and I.”
We nod our heads and smile.
Someone asks if when we were younger we thought life would be anything like it is now and everyone laughs. There is a collective no but no deep discussion about it.
Midnight is long past and I have made a point to check on my children. My teenager is actually asleep now and for a moment I stare at his face and remember the baby he used to be.
I do the same with my little girl and head back the computer.
A long while ago I swore I wouldn’t let fear and uncertainty prevent me from taking steps to move into living the kind of life I want.
I stepped onto the path and didn’t look back because what once was is long gone and now the only way ahead is through.
Kind of excited and kind of nervous about what lies ahead.Â Life’sÂ MaÃ®tre dÂ told me I could place an order but he couldn’t promise what would be on the plate.
Guess I’ll make a point to stop at Life’s store and pick up some spices, condiments and silverware and see if that helps me prepare for whatever secret surprise this serving comes with.
Tracy@CrazyAsNormal February 20, 2015 at 11:18 am
It’s a constant struggle I wage in my head, “I wish I could go back and tell my younger self….”, but my younger self is exactly who got me where I am today. And I love it here. Awesome post. 🙂
The JackB February 20, 2015 at 6:34 pm
@tracycrazyasnormal:disqus I know that exact feeling. There are times where I wonder how I could have been so silly, so naive and so foolish. Times where I think it would be nice to go back and make different choices but then I wouldn’t be me so…
Linda Roy February 19, 2015 at 8:20 am
I absolutely love this. It has taken me a long time to realize that instantly reacting with words and actions doesn’t win any awards in life. That was an excellent way of putting it. It may feel liberating, but it always derails things. So much great insight in this post Jack.
The JackB February 19, 2015 at 12:58 pm
@disqus_k1hrcTFMqw:disqus Thank you. I sometimes miss that liberating feeling enough to get myself in trouble by repeating old mistakes, but most days it doesn’t happen. Always good to feel like we are growing and or learning.
Janine Huldie February 16, 2015 at 9:26 am
This is usually me at midnight or later reflecting. Life sure has changed since I was a teen and in my early 20s even, but here at almost 40, I am at the very least glad to say that I have lived my life, made some mistakes and indeed learned from them, too. That is what life and living is truly all about though.
The JackB February 17, 2015 at 7:55 am
@JanineHuldie:disqus I wonder about people who say they haven’t ever taken time to think about who they are and what kind of life they are living. Reflection doesn’t mean things are bad or wrong, it just means you are a thoughtful person.