If the psychics are right, at approximately 4:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon, August 2nd, I will be standing, or sitting, at the apex of my life on this earth. I’ll be at the middle of the marathon. In the eye of a fearless storm. Atop the peak of my own personal mountain. In the basement of a theater located in the middle of the universe, Times Square, USA, the end of my second to last work week before I begin my slow exit out of Limbo and onto the entrance ramp of The Next Interesting Adventure. On Sunday, I turn 45.
As we’ve discussed last year when I was pouting behind an ice cream cone in Reykjavik, Iceland at this time, that I’m not good at birthdays, especially my own, and haven’t been since the ripe old age of six. I’ve cried almost every year on the day. To avoid sadness and despair requires a Herculean effort, namely whale watching, live music, good wine, and a patient friend. This year is different so far. This year the impending occasion feels more like a shrug than a cataclysmic event. This passing year, I survived a burglary, a very troubled employee, and life in the theater. After all that, I’m still standing. What’s in an emotionally scripted moment anyway? Isn’t improv a more interesting approach to living a real life?
I’m not big on Bible quotes. And I don’t believe in sharing them, but I came across something interesting when I was cruising raptureworld.com last week. A concerned, yet rapture hopeful young woman was fearful that her checkered past might interfere with her receiving an invite into the kingdom of heaven. She wrote this on a message board, inviting feedback, looking for guidance. The pastor who answered, a wise man, as far as I can tell, pulled a quote from the Luke section of the New Testament. It goes something like this: a guy runs into Jesus and tells him “I’d really, really like to follow you, but I want to bury my dead father first.” Jesus says, “let the dead bury the dead. Your time is better spent telling people about the Kingdom of Heaven.” Later, he’s stopped by another guy who wants to follow, too, but he has to settle up some stuff at home first. You know, clean the dishes, close the windows, vacuum. Jesus says, “anyone who starts plowing, but keeps looking back, isn’t worth a thing in God’s kingdom.”
The sentiment sounds a little harsh. Perhaps something is lost in translation. It’s along the same lines of that theatrical creed, “the show must go on.” Should we allow the past to burn out the past like two opposing fires, let memories soften into songs, allow words loosen up while we keep walking, keep talking, and move forward instead of backwards?
In preparing for my midlife crossover, I took my Motorcycle Learner’s Permit test. I bid on a house in a city I do not know. I bought a head of kale, a bunch of radishes, and a healthy looking cucumber, and chucked a pretty awesome bread-and-butter job that allows me time to be a part-time artist in order to become a full-time artist, with a part-time job.
I’m on point to score the Best Midlife Crisis Ever.
The future is bright. And it starts soon. On Sunday, I’ll find someone, a stranger, a friend, a lover, anyone who’s game, to raise a glass of sparkly wine, which we will call champagne even if it’s cheap proseco. We’ll tie it up the past in a neat little package to be pulled out at cocktail parties and pow wows. We’ll cheer for the true stories that will soon be given to fictional characters and coddle the real characters who will be handed fictional lives. The dead will dance with the dead while we hangout on the side of the road just outside of Limbo, and try to catch a peek at my shiny new toy, life on the other side of the mountain.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, first off, because I can. Because it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to. Also, because, even though most people are better at their birthdays than I am with mine, I’m fairly convinced that I’m somewhat of a savant when it comes to the midlife crisis. And by savant, I mean genius. Mad scientist. Dotty old maid. Performance artist. I don’t know. I get those things confused.
In my mind’s eye, I sometimes see myself as a little girl, always chasing my bigger sisters, always trying to catch up. They’re bigger and stronger, faster, and want nothing to do with their baby sister. And this little girl, my imagined me, keeps trying to catch up to them. She trips. She falls. She gets up. She dusts off her knees. She runs after her big sisters again, now farther behind. She will probably never catch up to them, but she keeps trying. She can’t not try. It’s in her nature. With every fall comes a renewed attempt. Like Sisyphus without the boulder, and the torturous eternal damnation, and sunburn, she keeps going and going and going. Run, fall down, get up, dust off knees, apply band-aid, repeat.
I think a pretty accurate depiction of my life and adventures so far.
Isn’t it curious how we humans have a killer collective memory? We hear voices from the grave, read words from the grave. We look at art, listen to music, tell stories of people who have passed away hundreds, thousands of years ago. We pretend to be them. We keep our dead alive.
Some of those ghosts and artist from the past knew us better than we know ourselves. They knew our inner lives intimately, our personalities, our aptitudes and attitudes, our dreams, our hopes, our flaws. So many of them whisper in our ears “love is love, Romance is romance. Hope is hope. And life… is life.”
Our dead heroes were once excellent beginners. Deep thinkers. Soulful artists. Fragile humans. Confused, hopeful, conceited, humble, argumentative, contradictory souls. Like us, they straddled the fissure between past and future. The history of humanity is a maze that turns back on itself. Molecules, stars, planets, memories, visions, and dreams. A maze without an exit. A labyrinth as deep and wide as the history of the universe.
So, I guess I’m just not worried that I’ll cry this Sunday. I think I’d rather sit on the metaphoric lawn chair with my dog on my lap at the far corner of Limbo and blow out a candle, eat a cupcake. Maybe catch a star or two.