Friday, May 27, 2011

What's Become Of Me?

I'm not sure why I've been reflecting on my middle-aged self lately. Maybe the mid-life crisis is starting (oh my wife will be so lucky!) or maybe it's just that I look back at my life so far and then look at my daughter, recognizing that she has all of that to go yet.

I look at her at the age of 2-1/2 and it boggles my mind that she will some day be in her 20s, out of the house and living on her own. Possibly in a different city than her parents or even a different country. Hopefully I'm the kind of parent who will encourage her to do all the things I should have done when I was younger. Like strap on a backpack and travel the world. The last thing I want to be is stifling to my kid the way my mother was to me. Her life should be about her, not me.

I suppose I have hopes that she'll be doing more with herself than I was in my 20s. Don't get me wrong, I had a ton of fun in those years and I think I really found myself. But I spent a lot of time chasing a career as a theatre artist that, let's face it, I was amazingly mediocre at and had no real business thinking that it was what I could do with my life. Despite some decent success in my college theatre days I really should have figured out a lot sooner that I was never going to succeed in it. Would have saved me a lot of disappointed feelings over the years.

So I do hope that my daughter doesn't end up chasing a dream all through her 20s that she's just going to give up a quit in her mid-30s. Hopefully she has a lot of her mother, the doctor, in her. Maybe just a touch of me so she's not only working hard all the time and is having some fun. 80% Mom, 20% Da would be a decent mix.

Of course, trying to guess how my daughter's life will turn out is about the same as trying to beat the house in Vegas. It ain't gonna happen. Hell, trying to figure out how my own life will turn out is impossible. So many stages of my life I never saw coming.

I ended up living in Seattle at the age of 23. When I was 22 I had no idea that would happen. Seriously, even a year earlier I didn't see that coming. Being married and having a kid is a complete shock to me. I never saw myself having a kid. Lots of parents are the types who have been dreaming about the day they'd have kids since they were kids themselves. I got excited about being a dad about, oh, maybe a week before my wife gave birth. (Honestly, I think this makes me a better parent, not having a lifetime of expectations about what raising kids would/should be like). Scared shitless is what I was feeling the rest of the time.

So many things I never saw coming, like giving lectures and workshops to medical school faculty in Taiwan. I never even imagined visiting Taiwan and it turned out to be one of my favorite places. Living in New York, being on a game show, talking to Peter Buck in a bar in NYC, meeting a random Buddhist guy from Australia in an Indian restaurant in Cambodia and having a full night of grand conversation, the same thing happening with a singer-songwriter from Manchester in a bar in NYC.......

Life really can be a series of unexpected curve balls. And that's a good thing. Better that then how much of my extended family has lived their lives - living in the same town where they were born, never seeing any other place in the world beyond the Midwestern United States.

I was trying to look at my life the other day through the eyes of the 25-year-old me. A weird exercise if ever there was one.

I was giddy when we found an apartment that was right across from the Whole Foods, which made it my favorite apartment ever. Sleeping late on Saturday means getting to stay in bed to all of 8:00 (at 25, 8:00am was fucking early). Having post-it notes all over a computer monitor at work to remind me of things to do. Actually having a job that involves a desk and a computer. I wear ties to work. Daycare. Diapers. Parent-teacher conferences (yes, we've already had one of these). Hanging around playgrounds.

It dawned on me that the 25-year-old me would think the 40-year-old me was a big old loser.

But what does that slacker hippy stoner know? That dumbshit thought that buying a $50 bong with his credit card (without having the money to pay the bill) was the coolest thing ever.