Sunday, May 23, 2010

It Happened to Me

I swore it would never happen, didn't you? I swore I would never let the bastards get me down. Never think music was played too loud. Never favor a night in with a good book over a late night out drinking and clubbing. I certainly was never going to let anyone or anything slow me down. And I swore I would always, always love the Stones.

I still love the Stones. But by the time you're into the Second Half, chances are the bastards did get you down more than once during your First Half. People were mean and it hurt; life was unfair and you got burned; love was glorious and then it sucked. There was no escaping it; you just used to think there was.

About music being played too loud(ly): sometimes it is just too bloody loud. You can't hear yourself think over a throbbing base but if you loved the Stones at full-blast back then, now you know there are some sweet acoustics and awesome harmony you only catch when you turn it down. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't still love to blare Brown Sugar through your sunroof when driving home from the beach.

The drinking and clubbing thing is overrated. I know, you swore you would never say that. But you thought it even in your young and foolish First Half; you would just never admit that curling up at home with a book that transports you could trump a night of too much vodka, noise and dancing when you didn't really feel like it in an over-crowded, overpriced club, only to be rewarded with a massive headache the next morning. Well, now you can. Gimme the book.

As for slowing down, I would say there's a temporary lull when the weight of adult responsibilities and the natural aging process do slow you down, dammit. But it is temporary. Because once you clear the core kid-raising, mortgage-paying, loan re-paying and job securing that is central to most mid-lives and their respective crises, and once you start practicing, say, yoga, you just know nothing can slow you down. Unless, of course, you let it.

In the Second Half, you get a second chance, but this time it's based on strength borne of lessons learned, not a youthful reverence for your own delusions of invincibility. You realize the bastards only get you down if you give them that power. There is music that you play real loud because you choose to, not because you're supposed to. If you occasionally put down that engrossing book to go boogie with friends in a club until 4:00 am (OK, maybe 1:00 am), it's fun, but nothing beats getting back to the book in your pj's with a coffee on Sunday morning. And best of all, in the Second Half you have a certain freedom that must be earned -- financial, emotional, spiritual -- and that allows you to go at the world with a renewed zest and confidence that no one and nothing can slow you down.

Yup, it happened to me. And thank god it did.


  1. How odd, I was just pondering on this today. Actually, it isn't that odd since lately I have been thinking about this idea of selling out on youth quite often. I just started a position at work in a team with four wonderful, lovely women in their 20s. They are super bright, personable and a joy to be around. The sudden presence in my day-to-day of people from a different generation has brought a big reality check thundering down from the sky. Out of the blue. Like a huge 10,000 lb Warner Bros anvil about to hit the ground. I'm just not sure where it will land. Will I be Wile E. Coyote underneath it or Roadrunner just beside it? Often, they react differently to situations than I do. Some of the time, I feel old and jaded, like a prisoner of my D.O.B. and I envy their youthful impatience or their bright eyes full of hope. Some times I relish the fact that my years of observation and experience allow me to avoid road blocks and frustration.

    Tonight, I was supposed to go out to a club (tomorrow is a holiday in Canada) and dance till my pants fell off. But, you see, I'm getting over a terrible cold, coughing up my lungs like an emphesemic grand dad, and frankly I'm concerned that an all-nighter at 47-and-a-half could wind me up in the hospital with pneumonia!

    Thank you Sue for giving me once again some true perspective; thank you for painting the picture. Now for some benadryl and beddy bye.

    Sunday, May 23, 2010, 10:39 pm

  2. I am now in my third half - well, you know what I mean. Over the hill.
    But I have the same ambitions as in the first (or second) half; I am just no longer successful in all of them.
    I play music loudly, only now its classical. I still drive fast, but not 'crazy'. I still like the ladies and they like me - as their grandfather. Sometimes I fall asleep when I read a book in the afternoon, but can't sleep at night. A bowl movement is now as satisfying as in earlier years... Enough, you get the picture.
    The wisdom gathered in the first (and second half) give me great pleasure, if I only knew what to do with it. If I knew then, what I know now... I would probably have made the same mistakes.
    In summary: I have few regrets, meaning that I have probably lived my life reasonably well.
    On to the fourth half!