I don’t discuss with people the fact that I’m an aspiring writer, unless they are close friends or one of the two people that follow my blog. But when I do talk about being a writer I am often asked why I would want to do something with little to no chance of success, little or no promise of monetary gain, and little to no chance of gaining enough fame to hit the million follower mark on Twitter. Simply put, I want to be a writer because I’m too old to play linebacker for the Oakland Raiders. It was never going to happen anyway, and at the age of forty it’s time to put that dream to rest. With age comes perspective, as well as the motivation to read for something other than an English class. In doing so you come across books like Fight Club, where Tyler Durden tells us,
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
That did not resonate with me at all the first time I read the book back in ’98 because I was only twenty six and felt pretty confident I would live forever and have plenty of time to be successful at whatever I decided to do that wasn’t the thing I was doing right then. Last year I read the book again and realized that I was still doing the same thing I hated doing when I was twenty seven. Thirteen years ago. And now I realize that time is not infinite (at least for me) and if I harbor any illusions about not doing the same thing I’ve been doing for the last thirteen years for another thirteen I should probably get my head out and do it now.
Not that I’m complaining about my current job. It’s indoors, involves no heavy lifting, and pays well enough for what I’m asked to do. Still, it’s not what I wanted to be when I was a kid. My brother is a fireman and every kid wants to be a fireman and that wasn’t his dream as a kid and I’m almost certain that most of us are working in jobs right now that they didn’t dress up as on Career Day when they were in the fourth grade. Somewhere along the way we put down our dreams and decided to make money and have nice houses and cars and to put braces on our kid’s teeth and we lose sight of the fact that our lives are ending one minute at a time. But they are, and whatever distractions we create in the meantime will not slow those minutes down one bit.
So, when I was 15 I was an aspiring linebacker for the Oakland Raiders. At 40, I’m an aspiring writer. When I’m 60 I’ll probably be an aspiring cliff diver. I think you should always aspire to be something and that something should be so ridiculous that everyone will line up around the block to tell you how stupid you are for even thinking about trying it. Nursing homes are full of people who are only aspiring to live another day. Or to fit as much Jello in their mouths as possible before the dining room closes. They are aspiring, it’s just that there’s are pretty good chance they’ll succeed without putting forth any effort. Kind of like watching Matlock reruns.
We just threw a big party for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It consisted of family and friends sitting around a church parlor eating cake and drinking punch. Most of the revelers were in walkers and wheelchairs and even though it was a party it felt more like a wake. And if you knew my grandmother even a little it would bother you to no end because it drove me crazy. I remember her as being way younger than her age, fishing with us, playing ball in the park, and generally acting like she was a ten year old- except she could cook us dinner, which was always nice. I think after my grandfather passed she quit aspiring to anything. I hope that doesn’t happen to me. I want to celebrate my 90th birthday by jumping off Everest in a wing suit without a parachute. My wife wants a party in a bowling alley with strippers and bottle rockets. We are two very different people.
I think we all have the potential to be great, it’s just that we let reality get in the way of our dreams. Moses didn’t do anything other than tend sheep and kill overseers until he was in his 90’s. KFC didn’t blow up until Colonel Sanders was in his 80’s. If you have a dream then maybe you should just keep at it until you drop, age and reality be damned.
Somebody get me Al Davis’ phone number.