Notes on a Half-Life
When my dad turned 5–0, he extinguished the candles on his birthday cake… by stomping on them. My mom, rest her soul, in her bright-eyed and gentle way — dutifully hiding the pens and sharp objects as my dad stomped and flailed away that day — remarked, “This is going to be an interesting rest of the year.”
As it happened, the remainder of 1982 was uneventful. My brother and I continued to share our small upstairs bedroom, and seemingly brain-dead neighbors hurled apples at our modest house whenever they could…
Other than Dallas being interrupted by ripe fruit pelting the shingles on many a Friday TV night — and the ill-fitting parachute pants I peacocked around in — life was good.
Fast-forward a decade and a half or three (or nearly), to my own fiftieth year…
Now this isn’t a cute little curmudgeon’s rant: because I’m now fifty, I’m swearing at clouds.
This isn’t about “better” music, entertainment, education or culture.
This isn’t a thing about beards or Millennials, entitled delusionals, successful beyond any dreams because, dreaming;
new lost jobs or paradigms… frontiers stripped down and, for better or worse, a more fluid, inclusive (faux!) “tolerant” OneWorld… a Jetsons society heading toward — already immersed in — an Orwellian, all-knowing, all-seeing (& cash-free) and largely unquestioned / unchallenged (shrug) status quo.
This isn’t about that.
Nor the daily fear-mongering, parmaceutical drug-pushing, assaultive invasions of personal space / freedom, and beliefs / ideologies violently force-fed, furiously, to surmount my own… nor to why we don’t (want to) or can’t (too exhausted) to give a shit the way we should.
This piece isn’t about that.
Instead, it’s about my own turning Hawaii… and how I made it through my own big Five-0 day without blowing candles out with my feet… and yet, feeling that my dad had a much better fiftieth time of things than myself.
Without getting too deep, 2016 saw personal struggles with marriage, with money, with illness, pain, homelessness… precipitous advances in cancer, dementia, severe crippling arthritis… benign yet troubling bouts of forgetfulness, Parkinson’s disease and, two times, death.
With each passing, especially — of my aunt in February and my mom this month — I became reminded of trite yet powerful affirmations:
First: If I’m writing this (and you’re reading), it’s not ‘rock bottom’. We’re here… We are breathing.
Second: If anyone tells you you “can’t” — ESPECIALLY if it’s your own voice or face in the mirror — tell them to fuck off and spit back, hard, at whatever is priming you for complacency / failure.
At the end of the day, we have only ourselves to believe, allay fears… or regretfully blame. The choice is (y)ours with each passing new year.
Have a Happy in 2017.
Let’s choose wisely.