"Does it bother you," asked Eva last night, just before bed, "that you're turning 41?"
I thought about it a while. "Yeah, a little," I admitted. "Not for the reason most people would give, though..." and then I stopped dead. "It's hard to articulate," I said. "I'll have to write it out tomorrow."
And now tomorrow is today and I'm seemingly no closer to getting a handle on these alien thoughts.
No worries, folks, I'm not having that midlife crisis.. On the contrary: I'm reasonably happy with most aspects of my life, ecstatically happy with others, and the niggling sense I'm feeling is certainly not overtaking my rational mind.
It's there, though: no denying it.
Oh, the accepted narrative is well known. I'm supposed to be asking myself IS THIS ALL THERE IS?, eventually deciding that no, it isn't/shouldn't be/can't be, and then throwing away all I have in search of some illusion, wrecking my life in the process.
Even if 'this' isn't 'all there is', I have to say upon reflection that it's the vast majority of all there need be in my life.
"If you have one friend in the world, you're lucky. Two and you're blessed. Three is impossible."
--unknown; one of those Uncle Rog quotes that recurs at intervals
When I first heard those words in grade thirteen, they changed my perception of myself in a profoundly positive way. I've always had trouble making friends. I love people in the abstract, and my history has shown me that I like many people on sight and have grown to love more than a few. But taking that first step to friendship, for me, is fiendishly difficult. It all comes back to that pervasive fear, the one that I have let sabotage my life for far too long in far too many ways: the fear of looking stupid. (Hell, after fourteen years with my wife, I've only recently arrived at the point where my looking stupid in front of her doesn't mortify me. Probably because it happens so bloody often.)
Until I first heard that three friends is impossible, I'd always compared myself to the extroverts who had what seemed like hundreds of friends...and found myself not just wanting, but yearning. With that cranial transplant, I suddenly understood that I could rejoice in what I had, and let go of what everyone else seemed to have, and that's been at the heart of the hard-won emotional stability I pride myself on.
Fast-forward to 2013 and I'm blessed with friends who make my life a joy. I love one of 'em so much I married her. Best decision I ever made. In that area of my life, I'm not just alright, I'm all right.
I've been at my job for sixteen months now and for the most part feel about as comfortable as I did at my last job after four or five years. There are people that I willingly hop out of bed to go see. (I'm paid to be in that atmosphere, too: how cool is that?) No complaints there.
I'm currently enrolled in introductory French, and the language I was almost fluent in after high school is slowly coming back to me. My mind gets a workout every Tuesday and Eva and I are having fun spouting French at each other, and so that's okay, too.
I don't even have the sense of tempus fugit that seems to plague people as they age. I lost that the first time I read the fragment of poetry that gave birth to the phrase:
Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore.
(But meanwhile it flees: Time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail.)
Love of detail? That doesn't describe me at all. I'm a simple man to please and I can find myself content in almost any surrounding. If anything, I'm the kind of guy who misses the trees for the forest. So I don't see the point in lamenting 'lost' time: what matters to me is now.
I have the love of my life; I have my mind; I have gainful employment that also happens to have friends embedded in it; I have a house that doesn't leak (though it could do with a good cleaning, and if you think I'm going to do much of that today, you're nuts). I have three pets who love me unconditionally and I've got music and books and enough of everything else.
Nothing missing. So why the niggling? To what possible purpose would I--
IF YOUR BIRTHDAY IS TODAY:
Does your life have a purpose? Yes, of course it does, and what that purpose is will become ever clearer as the new year goes on. Listen to what your inner voice tells you. It's the part of you that knows all the answers.
--horoscope as published in The Globe and Mail, February 6, 2013, I shit you not
I don't believe in daily horoscopes and rationally I can't accept the premise that the gravitational fields of planets affect the quotidien doings of beings here on Earth. This despite being a prototypical Aquarian in nearly every respect; the deep reading I once got out of a computer after supplying it with my natal date, time and location was...uncanny). I only read horoscopes for fun, that that only at the start of a new year...and on my birthday.
Does my life have a purpose? Maybe. What the hell is it?
The trite answer to this, the one I've read in several spiritual tomes including the closest thing I have to a bible: it boils down to "life is what you make it"...something we all heard from our parents, I suspect, and another of those things, at least for me, that only took on real meaning as I aged. But what do I want to make of my life, when what I've made of my life so far is wonderful?
Are we gonna go round this here bush again?
Until I get to an answer on that, I suspect I'm going to be right here in this place of contentment. I don't want to give the sense that I'm stalled or stagnant. But...niggle niggle.
Hope today's horoscope is accurate.