Have You Arrived?
If you Google this, you’ll find all kinds of references and articles about How You Know When…I have Arrived.
At the ripe age of 66, I have yet to Arrive.
My sneaking suspicion is that right about that time, I’ll be taking my last breath.
Truth is we all have different versions of How We Know. For example:
When I can fall asleep in a meeting and not care (I’m that fucking important).
When I make X amount of money (I’m that rich). This one tickles the shit out of me. When I got out of the Army back in 1978, I honestly, truly wrote in my journal that if I could make $25,000 a year, I would have arrived. Made it.
Then of course, I moved to New York.
Some bastard is always moving the bar.
I’ll have gotten (the girl, the man, the car, the kids, the home, the fill-in-the-blank).
The sad part about aspirations is that once we have IT,whatever IT is, we start finding fault with what we have.
That thing we wanted so badly that was supposed to be proof of our arrival.
His feet stink, she gained weight, the kids have ADHD, the house is in the wrong neighborhood. Suddenly your hero looks like Thor in Avengers:Endgame, complete with dad bod.
WTF man. I thought you were a fucking god.
Remove the aspiration and where we have arrived kinda…sucks already.
I’ll have gotten plastic surgery, “found myself.” (Look, I’m still looking, and after sixty-six years, I haven’t found a trace. I’m heading for Mongolia in less than two weeks so there’s still hope. If not Mongolia, then Ethiopia right after that, then Africa…..I’ve gotta be around here somewhere on this damned marble).
I’ll be thin (but I’m still a bitch, or psychotic, or angry, or bitter, or terrified that I’m going to gain three ounces, which makes me horrible to be with because all I eat it is a lettuce leaf.)
I’ll get the promotion (and have had to leave my beloved mountain town, move to the polluted city and leave my friends and sports behind). Make more money (pay more taxes, spend more than I earn just like before).
I’ll be muscular (but now I’m arrogant and unpredictable because of the steroids)
Somehow, arrival isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Many years ago some young woman’s magazine, now long forgotten, had a column that posted stories of how we knew we had “arrived.” My story at the time was walking through a mall (that dates me, doesn’t it?) at the age of forty, clad in a pair of tight jeans. My long hair floated over my shoulders and tumbled down my back. A gaggle of teen-aged boys whistled at me from a distance, having no clue of my advanced age. I’d arrived all right.
I still had no idea where I was headed.
Still don’t. That’s a good thing.
I could still march through a mall (if any exist these days) in a tight pair of jeans, my (color-treated) hair tumbling majestically over my shoulder. A gaggle of teen-aged boys (if they still went to a mall, and they don’t) would still whistle at me, then fall over in a dead faint if I turned around.
HOLY SHIT YOU’RE OLD.
However, the only folks in malls these days are other ancients marching in long loops in front of the shuttered doors, passing the dead palms. One of those might whistle.
He hasn’t arrived yet, either.
Good. Because again, my sneaking suspicion is when we stop, we die.
Some wag somewhere — who apparently was enjoying the hell out of himself as he was moving along, pointed out that the journey was the whole point. (this is attributed, not entirely correctly, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but he was close. He was still moving at the time.)
I’d like to punch the SOB in the nose. Because, of course, he’s right. The only way is forward. There is no arrival.
Until, of course, it’s time to turn over the keys.
Meanwhile, I think it’s a good idea to keep moving around the mall.