July 2019 Archives

July 21, 2019

Things to do until I'm dead

Part of turning 40 (!!) was coming to terms with my relevance in society. It’s still a work in progress.

I live in a young people city and I work in an industry with a youth fetish, so there’s this constant immersion in twenty-somethings that makes it hard to live like my twenties ended a decade ago. What do 40-something people do besides raise children, chase youth, and hate life? I don’t have an interest in any of those things, and I don’t know many people who are at this stage of life who are doing something other than that.

So I’ve started making a list of things that I can do, in relative obscurity, for the next half of my life.

  • Build and maintain flexibility and mobility. I’ve always enjoyed athletics and physical activity, but my feelings of not being a great sportsman and my (probably related) lack of competitive spirit usually relegated me to sporadic, non-organized exercise. I tried the gym, but I’ve always felt my gym activity generates personal narcissism. That said, I’ve been discovering people who are in great shape who are doing great things that are not about competition or vanity. And that looks like something I could do for a while without too much preening or acting like I’m not a bald fart.
  • Code. I really miss the good old days of this site, when it was as much about building as it was about writing. Learning HTML and CSS was such a big thing for me back then, and gave me so much opportunity. It’s sad that I do absolutely zero of that now. Moreover, I’m increasingly drawn back to my roots by the magnetic waves of the indieweb movement. The web was made for building your own thing and representing yourself to the world—not for sharing your insignificant opinion on absolutely everything that happens in an ecosystem designed to extract your data for profit’s sake. Why not build my own thing and expand myself in the process? Also, despite all of that anarchist anti-conglomerate speak I’d still love to work at Google before it’s all done and they tend to only hire people with real coding chops.
  • Read and write. Once upon a time this used to be “learn languages.” But as much as I still love learning languages I realize that a big part of what pushed me to learn languages was to meet and impress new people. As an old, looking to engage with other olds, there are fewer people looking to find a novel foreigner who is speaking their language once you hit this age. I think if I maintain my abilities through reading and writing it will allow me to enjoy the efforts of my younger years for a long time. There’s also general reading and writing on this blog to be done as well.
  • Learn about myself. Look, no one really cares what I do now that I’m 40. This is why the olds stop trying to know the latest songs, memes and fashion trends. You get almost no value from being in the know, because you’re still an old. So why not take that precious effort and direct it somewhere that matters? My somatica training started at 40, and it’s changed so much of how I see the world. Why stop there? I’ll still be old and irrelevant, but at least I’ll be happy and growing as I become a living fossil.

In all seriousness, it’s really important to make LIVING something you do until you’re dead. I intend to do that.

July 18, 2019

Game Plan

Recently been thinking about how little of my life is according to plan. You can think of that in two ways.

If I were to say that my life doesn’t always go according to plan, most would share that feeling. And it is true that little of my life has turned out the way I expected it to—to the extent that it’s not uncommon to hear me on a soapbox suggesting that nothing that is realized ever matches the picture you had of it in your head. We betray ourselves by leaning too heavily on projections we derive and expecting the world to conform. My life has not turned out how I planned but it is still a very good life—arguably better than what I could have imagined.

Which leads to the second way of thinking about this. I have a life that is unimaginable for many—if not most. This is not a boast but a fact—one that I try to remind myself of each day. An early influencer recently admonished me, “…[N]ever forget that this is an honor. Not something you’ve earned or is owed to you… [T]reat each day as a privilege.” So I am acutely aware that for me to say that I don’t wake up to an alarm clock or have any specific time to wake up, I don’t have a point in time where I’m “early”, “late” or “on time” as far as being in the office, I largely can choose to work remotely at my whim, and I am the primary actor in defining my job and career path is a truly rare position that I’m truly fortunate to have. It makes me want to do the most with it and to not squander what so many dream of achieving.

So I worry that the lack of imposed structure results in the lack of structure overall. If someone isn’t planning my life and how it should be lived, the responsibility lies with me. If I don’t have a plan, and don’t build structure so that my efforts, energies and resources are going to a specific thing (or set of things), all of the privilege and opportunity I’m afforded is lost. Perhaps I need to reassess and find something worth planning my living around.

July 14, 2019

The Parent Trap

Your somewhat-humble author is blessed in many ways, and doesn’t often use this medium to speak to the ways in which his life is great. I try to avoid using this blog as a platform for whining and moaning, but I haven’t been nearly as intentional about speaking to the bright side.

Today my intention was to share the tensions that exist in the relationship that I have with my parents, but it must first be said that I have parents—parents who I love. My parents aren’t perfect, and they have their issues, but they have been nothing but supportive to me and have been great parents to my sister and I. The tension that I have with my parents is less about them and more about me; less about the parenting they provided and more about my projections and expectations around who they should be for me now in adulthood.

My parents are divorced and remarried. They’ve re-partnered with nice people who are a) nice to them and b) are comfortable with my sister and I and open to being a part of our family. This is huge, apparently. The fact that my father can joke with my mother’s husband and that my mom can chat amicably with my dad’s wife is something that I may have taken for granted as a holiday gathering norm. It wasn’t always that way, but I am so proud of the path my family has chosen to take in this regard.

My sister and I sometimes express mildly exasperated resignation when speaking to each other about our parents. We’re adults now, and that always changes the things you looked at when you were children. When you are the same age as the schoolteacher you start to realize with more accuracy what your teacher’s life might have been when you viewed them as a font of wisdom. When you are older than your doctor or therapist, you might find yourself wondering whether their context is as comprehensive as you need it to be. And when you’re all grown up (and in my little sister’s case, a parent) you look with rose-colored glasses at the greatness of your parents past efforts, casting a deep shadow over who they are now.

To this end, I think it would only be fair to revise my thinking about my parents. They were my parents, so I guess I want them to be parents to me still. To have more insight than me, to provide counsel and guidance; to have an opinion about who I am and what I am potentially becoming. The reality is that perhaps that phase of my relationship with my parents may be yielding to a new phase where—I don’t know—they’re more like friends or old people who I’ve known my whole life.

But regardless of how awkward the current transition is, despite the frustration that might arise in our interactions, and even though they stress me out at times (most times, honestly), my life is great in large part because of them, and I am thankful for each moment I have with them.