In two more days I turn 40. The big 4-0. My only thought is “what the frig”. Has it really been 18 years since I graduated college? 22 since I graduated high school? How is that even possible? How can I have a mortgage, a car, a job, a kid? Is this what I really wanted to do with my life? Wasn’t I going to be a famous writer?
A few weeks ago I got the old age wakeup call. After years of being relatively healthy, I got a nice little scare that led to a colonoscopy. I won’t say it was a life changing moment, but it certainly got me to thinking. What the hell was up with me? Why wasn’t I pursuing the stuff that interested me any more?
Like many people my age, I think Lennon’s adage “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” came to pass. A child, a 40 hour a week job, a wife, and the desire to decompress kind of took the desire out of me. I also look at the numerous distractions in my life. It’s nothing now for me to be tweeting on my phone while reading a news story on my computer and watching TV with a pause for a bit of conversation. All of the stuff that interested me and gave me pleasure has been replaced by clutter and confusion. It’s rare I pick up a book and read it non-stop. It’s rare I watch a movie or television show without being plugged into something else. Everything MUST be done and must be done now. And so I have magazines, books, DVR’d shows, blog posts, websites, web videos, DVDs, Facebook updates, and twitter updates to attend to. Who has time to do what you like when there is so much to keep up with? Hell, I haven’t even mentioned the news.
When I was younger, people looked at this gifted and talented (their words) kid and said I could be or do anything if I just applied myself. Now I appear to be applying myself to anything without any real results. Everything seems important, and when everything seems important, nothing winds up being that way to you.
So now I’m looking into that writing dream, trying to figure out how I can get back into something that once came so easy for me. Right now I’m staring at several magazines and books that I want to read involving ideas or writing. I’m jotting down some goals I’d like to meet, which isn’t easy for me because I’ve never been a goal person. In high school and college, the writing seemed to come easy because there was a purpose. Now, absent a grade or money, the writing seems labored. Why spend hours on something if you’re never going to get a grade or see money from it immediately? What if you suck? What if you hate doing it? So it’s easier to pretend you’re a writer than to be one.
I almost typed nothing tonight. I looked at a blank screen and three ideas I started, one that is promising but stuck, another that I have a wonderful page written and no idea where to go next, and a third that’s very personal, and somehow seems like nothing but suck.
I guess what I’m saying is that as I approach 40, I want to try again. I want to write just to write. I want to feel the joy that comes from creating something that people like.
I just have to quit turning it into a mountain before I even commit one word to paper. And I need to get rid of the clutter that fills my head and my life. And I need to stop worrying about being good. I just need to do it. Right Nike?
But I think I’ll keep on tweeting. The followers are good for the ego.