Old Boy (TQP #0042)
Sometimes I feel old.
Not that old. But old-ish.
I’m 28, so yeah. Not old, I’m aware. But I feeeeel it. Down just past my heart and behind my guts. Where the feeling-place is.
I’m not sure where it started. Probably the increasing frequency of married friends with houses and lawns had something to do with it. But I think it may have really kicked in when I joined Minneapolis’s teenaged population at a concert for an indie-rock outfit called Islands. As the kids cheered and requested songs, I noticed that A) all these songs sounded the same, and 2) the skinny-boy jeans worn by half the band were offending me on a lot of different levels, all of which coalesced into this thought: “These damn kids and their tight pants…”
When I walked out of the concert – before it had actually ended, mind you – I saw a middle-aged couple standing outside the doors, wondering if the show was over yet since they’d come to collect their son. I wondered if I would’ve had more fun hanging out with these two. “Oh, I think that was your boy standing quietly near the back, so he could get a better view. Sensible young man, I’m sure he’ll go far…”
But if the slow descent of the aging process brings with it the occasional early onset of crotchety ranting (for which this site is known far and wide), it also brings a bit of wisdom.
A lot of creative types will get maudlin sometimes and tell you that there’s a lot to live up to when you’re in your 20’s. They will point out that Orson Welles had already filmed Citizen Kane by the time he was 25. And look what Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, etc accomplished before they were 27. Hell, look what Buddy Holly did, and he died at age 22.
It’s a bullshit way of thinking, and obviously I’m mature enough at this point not to foolishly compare my life to the cultural big guns. Maybe too mature…
So of course I got to thinking about this while I was tying my shoes on a Monday morning. Monday morning – the absolute worst time for introspection. “Here you are, 28 years old. A book you haven’t done anything with, a writing job that’s rapidly boring you, no real plan for the future…what have you really accomplished so far, old man?”
But then it hit me. Here’s what I’ve accomplished: I’ve successfully outlived a bunch of people who peaked, collapsed under the weight of their own living legends, and died before they could even hit 30.
I’m counting this as a victory. Look what I get to do, that Janice Joplin never will: survive long enough to get more chances to do something very interesting.
A brief moment of before-work clarity. A slight reminder for myself – not yet 30 and already panicky about my legacy – life ain’t a sprint. It’s not a marathon, either. I think it’s a lot closer to one of the zanier adaptations of “Around the World in 80 Days.” Fast, then slow, in frequently uncomfortable weather, using modes of transportation that are just plain wrong. With an occasional cameo by a Hollywood star….
Shit, this metaphor’s gotten away from me.
George Carlin’s death this week was a bummer. But I keep thinking of Bill Hicks, a guy who probably could’ve been Carlin’s greatest successor if pancreatic cancer hadn’t taken him out at the ripe old age of 33. He put it a lot better, and a lot simpler:
“It’s just a ride.”
(Yesterday was my roommate’s birthday, so everyone offer fond wishes and empty promises of wheat beer to Tad.)