a self-portrait of the artist
approaching middle age
I turned 40 yesterday — at midnight legally, but literally at around 7 p.m., and yesterday only in the sense that I’ve been trying to get this up since the header date although you
Yes, I’m still having trouble connecting to the Interwebs with any longevity or reliability. For that reason among others, I haven’t published here in almost a month; due to the substandard WiFi, my own lack of energy, and the fact that dealing with the first makes the second all the more aggravating (or vice versa) when there’s a post fully written ready to go online, I attempt to live by a version of Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer”:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Familiar largely due to its use at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, even if you’ve never attended one, it’s a tremendously simple and profound mantra that’s come to mind often during particularly difficult times since I developed a life-altering chronic illness 12 years ago. I referenced that illness and some of its fallout during my first State of the Blog report 9 months ago; this was nearly a bookend to that dispatch making the obvious hiatus in posts official and announcing grand plans to follow — which, as I noted way back in my Welcome post, seems to be one of the blogosphere’s raisons d’être — but since the ETA of future blogs and the new version of this one is still unknown I don’t want to say much about those plans yet. More on that after some further thoughts on the anticlimactic four-oh...
I’ve never bought into 40 as being the hump of a hill one goes over, especially given
the vibrancy of my mother and the longevity of my maternal grandparents. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy with where I find myself at 40, especially with so little to show for my life après 30. Sure, I’d almost certainly be lamenting the books unwritten, the places untraveled-t0, the experiences unhad no matter how the past decade had played out, merely by virtue of human nature, but thanks to my general incapacity those frustrations are compounded, very real, and in some cases very specific — there are particular books, places, and things that would have been produced, visited, and/or accomplished, with failed attempts crumpled up in the cosmic, etheric trash bin as proof.
What seriously makes me feel old is my parents being 65, my surviving grandparents averaging 95, and my sister having three kids. What makes me feel old is the fact that I was in college 20 years ago, and that the next-generation cousin born my senior year just started college herself. What makes me feel old is Madonna and Prince being in their 50s and half the freakin’ Beatles having left this mortal coil. What makes me feel old is so many friends my age being married with children, and those who are younger never having known lives without computers and cable TV.
What makes me feel old, if you see the distinction, isn’t that I’m 40 per se but that I’ve been around for 40 years and seen all the change that those years have brought.
As elders informed me when I was younger, you don’t get any older in your mind; you get older in your face, in your bones, and in the realization that people and things around you are getting older, changing, dying. I’ve lost one set of grandparents and, far too early, my Aunt Ronda and Uncle Leo, whose passing before the birth of more than half of their own beautiful, vibrant grandchildren is proof that life, while holding the potential for extreme joy, is not fair — except in the sense that essentially anything can happen to anyone anytime regardless of how kind or hollow their soul.
Despite my diminished energy and concentration, pain, fatigue, and concomitant desires to just give into those would-be frailties, I do try to, well, do stuff. I’ll get out to attend family dinners, catch a movie, gather to watch a ballgame, or plain-old hang with friends, but not with the frequency, predictability, or consistency one normally expects — which, come to think of it, makes my life a lot like my WiFi connection. I’m back writing and participating in some online communities (by the time you read this, perhaps including Facebook) after several years without a computer; the underbelly of that rainbow is that no period of productivity born of effort or good fortune lasts long enough and they all tease me with inevitably dashed expectations for continued success. Of course, as the birthday snapshot I took with my laptop camera shows, I’m still damned handsome if increasingly white of beard, prominent of widow’s peak, and plump of infamously hereditary neck flesh.
The satisfaction that comes from blogging, especially absent other avenues of publication, is together with my stubbornness the impetus for what should be a return to regular posts at least for a little while — fingers crossed, given that Blogger has now eliminated the option of continuing to use its older composition window and the new one remains buggy to the point where I can only get the old Normal font size or trust that line breaks won’t unpredictably multiply by copying the HTML of an extant post, pasting it into a new one, and then writing over the old text.
I’ve settled on both a WiFi device for the laptop and a new hosting service, I think, whose monthly fees will hopefully be paid for by me finally starting to sell various collectibles online. And posts will dry up again sooner rather than later, since time and effort spent here is taken directly from prepping the other blogs and projects associated with them; I have enough reviews held over from the summer or perfect for the Halloween season that I’m exercising a variation on Niebuhr’s counsel and letting myself back off those other projects to concentrate on as big a last hurrah as possible for Blam’s Blog in its current form. When it relocates to its new home, it shouldn’t be all that different, although it will probably be at once less busy than it’s been at its heights of activity and more consistent in its publication. Or, you know, not. As Livingston & Evans sagely wrote:
Que sera, sera / Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see / Que sera, sera
Related: Welcome • The Slog • Ebert, &c. • Mini-Slog with Meaning • Scrap Medal