Archive | February, 2013

…And Miles To Go Before I Sleep.

7 Feb

Today is my birthday and I felt like posting something profound because… well, do I really need a reason? Give me a break, it’s my birthday. Now my attempt at profundity may completely crash and burn, but hopefully you’ll get something out of it. Either way, just tell me that you did. After all, I have no way of knowing if you’re lying.

I celebrate my birthday the same way most traditionalists celebrate Fesitvus: I reflect on all the ways I’ve disappointed myself in the past year and then engage in feats of strength. The only thing missing is the aluminum pole. I really ought to get an aluminum pole…

I find birthdays to be incredibly odd. It’s surreal to wake up one morning, feel no different mentally or physically, and yet suddenly be another year older. Here’s how the morning of my birthday has played out in each and every year of my 30s:

-I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, shamble into the bathroom and gaze into the mirror at some old motherfucker with rapidly graying hair and dark circles under his eyes more prominent than the Lone Ranger’s mask.

-I point at mirror guy and emit a high-pitched screech just like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (sorry, that was a bit of a spoiler for a 35-year-old film). I do this because I don’t have a clue who that mirror guy is looking back at me, but that bastard has got to be a pod person. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

-I take a deep breath, sigh ruefully, and to my reflection repeatedly quote Ordell Robbie from Jackie Brown: “What the fuck happened to you, man? Shit, your ass used to be beautiful.”

-Finally, I cry silently for several uninterrupted minutes before I hop in the shower and try to forget that it’s my birthday.

In other words, it’s pretty much a day like any other.

I’m a self-reflective guy by nature and so each year on my birthday, I spend time thinking on the past year and years past. Somehow, I always manage to be surprised by the passage of time. The seconds continue to accumulate, threatening to crush me under their sheer voluminous depths. Naturally, this makes me feel a touch melancholy. But why? Why should I feel bad about getting older when it is so much more preferable to the alternative (you know, death)? Why does it bother any of us? Age is after all simply a number, not a definition… right?

I’ve spent some time ruminating on this and decided that we loathe birthdays because they are an annual reminder of our inexorable march towards mortality. Reminded of such, we lament the loss of youth and wish we could go back in time and lead a more perfect life. Moreover, youth is vitality. As anyone pushing past their mid-30s can tell you, the body begins a gradual (read: RAPID), but noticeable decline. Once started, it doesn’t end until the day when we slough off this mortal coil and cross over to the next plane of existence. Kind of sucks to think about – that every second we’ve spent outside of the womb has brought us one second closer to our inevitable demise. (It may help if you imagine the previous sentence being spoken by a Frenchman puffing a cigarette while leaning against a light-post.)

Age is the wisdom of experience. Based on that, I should be wiser than Gandalf, not yet as wise as Merlin, and with Solomon’s wisdom still light years away. Yet somehow I continue to pepper my life with poor decisions. Some recent lowlights:

-I bought cologne – an item whose sole selling point is its smell – off of a television infomercial. It did not smell pleasant.

-I paid money – cash money, mind you – to see the eye-rapingly awful, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, in a movie theater. If you’ve ever wanted to see a CGI Nic Cage piss fire, well, you probably already saw it too.

-I ate two 7-11 “chicken rollers.” It was after consuming multiple alcoholic beverages, but still – chicken in hot dog form does not occur in nature. I still have nightmares about their odd, rubbery texture.

-I picked up Jaws 3-D and Jaws the Revenge on DVD because I already owned the first two and needed to complete my collection. Isn’t that how hoarders get started?

In spite of all that, my Gandalf-equivalent wisdom is about to blow your mind. See, I think I’ve got this whole life thing figured out. If it strikes you odd that a man with a history (and present and future) of making terrible decisions thinks he has stumbled upon the meaning of life, I don’t blame you for backing slowly out of the room and running far, far away from me. But hear me out; I’ve got this. No matter what you believe (or don’t), the meaning of life – the key to all things – comes down to one simple concept. Are you ready? This is going to blow your mind:

Don’t be a dick.

That’s it. That sums up every religion as well as all moral, ethical, and philosophical codes of conduct. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Jedi – each one has that concept at its core. Instead of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Jesus could just as easily have said (in his best Dude voice): “Hey man, why don’t you all try not to be such dicks to each other?” It’s the exact same concept.

I’m not all that religious or even spiritual (the heathens always like to break out “spiritual”), but I don’t believe that this is it. I think that there’s something else waiting for us after this life ends. I’m not going to say that it’s quite so facile or definitively quantifiable as heaven or hell, but I believe that there’s a lot that we can’t even begin to comprehend (at least according to High Times magazine – an unimpeachable source). I also believe that how we treat each other here is going to go a long way in determining what type of existence we have there. Our current existence is sort of like an asshole test. If you’re shitty here, you miss out on the coolest stuff in the afterlife. You instead receive the karmic equivalent of a kick to the dick.

So that’s it. That’s my profound birthday conclusion. In essence, live your life, help people if you can, but more than anything, don’t fuck up people’s shit by being a dick. It may be crude, but I think it’s accurate.

Things took sort of a weird turn there at the end, no? Believe it or not, this post was inspired by Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, (one snippet in particular) so I’ll end this post with the words that inspired it:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

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