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Friday, April 09, 2004

Water Flowing Underground

I don’t know why exactly, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dying. Not in a morbid sense, but simply from the perspective of someone who is struggling with the realization that – statistically speaking – my life is for all intents-and-purposes roughly half over. Although I have a reasonable expectation of living another 35 – 40 years or so, perhaps a bit longer, it’s still pretty clear to me that with each passing day more of my life is now behind me than ahead.

Part of this funk I suppose is a direct result of nearly being killed recently. Granted, all I have to show for the experience is a scabby knee and a bruise on my side, but at the same time I realize how extremely lucky I was not to have been more seriously injured – perhaps even dead. It wouldn’t have taken much more speed on the part of the hapless Fed-Ex driver to turn a little nudge into a substantial impact; it’s all a matter of physics. A slight change in the delta for velocity gets factored into the equation; a little more speed translates into a corresponding increase in kinetic energy and – whamo! I go from being knocked over to being thrown out into oncoming traffic or crushed beneath the wheels of a larger delivery truck. How often is it possible to calculate the difference between living and dying down to a few decimal points?

As a result, recently I’ve found my mind occasionally drifting off into speculation about where I am today versus where I thought I’d be back when I was 20 or 25, when the whole adventure of adulthood was still a relatively new concept for me. Like most people, I probably had a lot of the same expectations about what moving out into the “real world” entailed. Honestly, even though I always knew that art would be a big part of my life, and perhaps if I was lucky even my vocation, I still envisioned it in more-or-less conventional terms; I’d be married, probably have a couple of kids, live in a house, own a dog, and basically live the kind of life that I’d always been told was the norm.

The problem is, I never really lived the kind of textbook existence most people think of when they picture the standard nuclear family. So, it might be said my current lifestyle is in some sense a reaction to (or perhaps against?) a pattern of normalcy that never actually existed for me. It doesn’t take paying a shrink $80 an hour to figure out that anybody who hasn’t married by the age of 40 probably has some commitment issues to contend with, and looking back it’s pretty easy for me to understand why that might be the case. Still, there are days when I wake up, stare at the “ceiling” (only inches above my head) and wonder, in the manner of David Byrne: “How did I get here?”

It’s not an easy question to answer, and at this stage in my life I’m not even sure if it’s all that relevant. Besides, it begs another question that is perhaps more to the point, namely: “Where am I going?” From where I lie, sit or stand right now, that’s anybody’s guess. I’d like to think that by the time I take my final breath, kicking and squalling out of life in pretty much the same manner that I entered, I could at least be content with the knowledge of having left things just a little bit better than how I found them. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, adolescent fantasies to the contrary, I’m most likely never going to be rich, famous or adored by millions, but I still have enough optimism to believe that I can have some modest influence on things, if not on a large scale, then at least within the small sphere of space-time in which I live day-to-day.

Now, all I have to do is figure out what that might be and hopefully, I’ll have an answer sometime before the end of the second half – assuming it doesn’t come any sooner than expected.

Posted byCOMTE on 1:48 PM

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