Mid-Life Birthday Arrives in the Nick of Time

I mentioned this birthday to a friend the other day in an e-mail.

Having a birthday certainly beats the alternative of not having more birthdays to celebrate, but it's not feeling like some milestone has been reached yet. 

This one is supposed to be significant. This particular age, that is. Leastways, that's what I've been told.

Business associates have mentioned it. "Are you going to be in the office Tuesday?"

"Oh no...what's that mean?" I shouted in my head. Damn. I'm bad at celebrations. I wince when I know I'm supposed to smile.

Someone else told me my card is in the mail.  A couple of "it's almost your turn" sort of e-mails have arrived. People like birthday celebrations.


I have gone into "I don't give a damn" mode.

Which is a complete falsehood. I care a lot but it's not my style to let on. I used to think this would be a turning point also. Then I experienced nearly total financial devastation in the debacle of the early millennium, followed by working twice as hard in the last decade to rise above it. Succeeded in fact, at least to some degree.

I just am not in any position to take a cavalier approach to what still lies ahead and so cannot for a moment feel like it's time to get drifty and dreamy about all the free time I can spend doing nothing, because it isn't going to play like that.

I will work until I cannot.

I had piles of education, working graveyard shifts in a cannery and teaching guitar to earn money to have enough college hours for nearly 3 degrees.Then I did my utmost to squander them. I couldn't be pinned down ever. Had to be self-employed, write my own ticket, re-invent myself every morning and see if the world was ready.

There were part-time jobs of course, usually in concert with and meant to supplement my bad ideas. My bio used to say that I have had 100 odd jobs, some much more odd than others. That's true as much as it needs to be.

But my essence, the guy I know, is reckless to an extent. Grandma said I wiggled too much. Sure, I grew out of it mostly, but it's still there.


It's the thing that keeps me looking for a new angle.


As a fledgling, if I didn't have an instrument in my hands, I had a pool cue. Mark Twain is the one who said that to be able to shoot a good game of billiards is a sign of a wasted youth. That may be true, although it sure helped keep down the cost of a drink back when such things as a bit of a hustle paid the bar tab. Twain played guitar too. I think the two go together. There is a lot of the math brain involved in both. A well placed winning bank shot in the corner pocket feels like a deftly added diminished chord in a gut-bucket rag-time tune. I think that says it correctly. It garnered me a tip of the hat one time anyway from Leon Redbone when I beat him in a game of 8-ball in a dimly lit pool hall.


"What's next?", I wonder. Some friends want me to get off the back porch and back on the stage. I'm thinking about it, although I know this time that to do so would mean a commitment I may not want to make. Way back, it just was what I did and who I was. I pushed hard every day. It's become like bicycle riding by now. I don't have to think about it. A bit wobbly perhaps but I'm not going to fall off.

I don't even have a plan, but I do know that having friends who are younger helps me keep a fresh perspective on matters. I see them having the same struggles I've been through, and doing it with resilience and a touch of the same recklessness I was describing. The few I'm thinking of are far smarter than normal, with a drive that just doesn't stop. 

I know how much it pains them to be in the midst of big dreams that seem out of reach, but I know also that if it didn't seem yet to be out of reach, it would mean they were someone other than who they are. They would not be the people I admire who reach for the comet's tail each time it passes despite the risk of falling off the edge of the planet trying, who miss and try again.

I get excited just knowing these people exist and are giving it their all. I love them for it.


Someone I know well comes to mind when I speak of this determination. At this time, I'm willing to say that person turned out alright too. It just takes awhile.           


Post Script: Today, Aug. 30th, I turn 65. Not being sure how I felt about it caused me briefly to conjecture that the cause of my ambivalence was just a bit of a mid-life crisis. While determined to continue to seek the new angle, I have resigned myself to accepting however that most people do not make it to 130.

Views: 410

Comment by alsoknownas on August 30, 2016 at 7:58am

Don't be shy...

Comment by The Songbird on August 30, 2016 at 8:01am

I love my birthday~!  I get to cross a line that only I can create. 

Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on August 30, 2016 at 8:05am

And yet we're all just babies, cosmically-speaking.

My very best wishes on this anniversary of that initial birthday of yours, but if this post is any evidence, that initial birthday was just the beginning, for it seems you are still being born every second, with new thoughts and new beginnings, and ponderings and striving to be better, and it is a joy to read.  I celebrate and honor that and I hope you do too.  That we could all hold such an ability to look honestly at ourselves, and be brave in the face of truths both comfortable and not, this world would every day be reborn into something more beautiful.  

Comment by Rosigami on August 30, 2016 at 8:06am

Happy birthday!

Your self-descibed  wiggliness, recklessness, restlessness, and finely honed sense of responsibity along with your music,  creativity and smarts have made for a life full of experiences that most never get to have. As a writer you share so much. Always a pleasure to read you.

Hey, you might not have 65 more, but really, after a certain point, would you even want them? 

I think this post says that you are celebrating your life- and that is wonderful.

Many happy returns of the day. 

Comment by JMac1949 Today on August 30, 2016 at 8:19am

Welcome to Geezerland... and by the way, anyone who has been the recipient of a tip of Leon Redbone's hat has experienced a life well lived.  Have a good one.  R&L ;-)

Comment by alsoknownas on August 30, 2016 at 8:30am

...out the door to see a client. Back in a bout 90 minutes and will reply then.

Such nice comments already !

Comment by nerd cred on August 30, 2016 at 8:42am
  1.  a tip of the hat one time anyway from Leon Redbone  < show-off  
  2. most people do not make it to 130  < I propose that for your new goal!  

  3. From the voice of experience: don't do what I did and let yourself slip into a deep depression at 65 you'll be years fighting your way out of. Just don't. 
  4. Never forget - it beats hell out of the alternative.  

and ...

Happy Birthday!

Comment by Zanelle on August 30, 2016 at 8:48am

That is a wonderful birthday cake!  65 is a big one.  Thank you for your thoughts and for writing here.  I appreciate you.

Comment by greenheron on August 30, 2016 at 9:02am

Gah! That cake!

Happy Birthday aka!!!  Nice post!!

I remember sitting on the subway one morning during rush hour, noticing everyone with their brief cases, good shoes, and pantyhose, and realizing that all my life, I'd never had a real job. Can't get better than that.

Comment by koshersalaami on August 30, 2016 at 9:45am
Great post. I know what you mean about working as long as you can - I'm in the same position.

Your line about the well-placed bank shot by itself made this post worth reading, and it would have been worth reading without it.

Mazel tov


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