First, I feel I should note that I find it amusing in that no matter how old I get, I still manage to find myself regularly among groups of people who want to note how young I am…outside, you know, from my immediate family, where both my kids and my wife like to regularly remind me of how much of an old man I am.
And old man is right, in a lot of ways. The gray hairs keep coming, although I’m still a ways off from the silver head that I fully expected to have by thirty. I regularly injure my back which is, well, it’s just pathetic. I no longer am capable of staying up until midnight regularly, but I have a feeling that may be more related to the exhaustion brought on by two very energetic kids than anything else. And…well, let’s go with a story for the final example.
As you are probably aware, I recently had LASIK to correct my atrociously bad vision. It’s cool. I’m pretty darn happy with it. However, I have yet to do one of the things that one should find most important when suddenly not having to wear glasses all the time (especially considering my eyes are now incredibly light sensitive), get a sweet pair of sunglasses. So, this weekend, during a naptime where I already had some errands to run, I decided to do a bit of sunglasses shopping as well, figuring it might be useful, considering my impending trip to a much more sunny locale. Sunglasses weren’t the only object I was hunting for, and the other consumer prey I had on my mind was proving difficult to locate, so I found myself showing up in many stores that carried darkened lenses. I couldn’t find a single pair that I could declare didn’t look absolutely silly on my face.
I wasn’t all that concerned, as, well, they’re just sunglasses. Yet, I was still feeling somewhat frustrated at how much time I could apparently spend looking for a simple pair of shades that would not make me look like I was trying to be something I’m definitely not (you know, because I’m an old man, not Kanye West). On the drive home, finally having located the other item in my shopping list, I found myself thinking about the sunglasses situation and thinking it was stupid that I would need to be so concerned about how things look. I’m not generally one to care, as I wear a t-shirt and ratty jeans on most days, and really didn’t here, outside of not wanting to give off the wrong impression. I decided right at that moment that I no longer cared what people thought about what I was wearing. It was a firm decision, one that I felt confident standing behind.
Until a couple seconds later when I realized that this is probably the exact thought process that people go through before they end up wearing fanny packs.
I quickly retracted my decision and returned to having some concern about outward appearance.
Old manness…it’s frightening. But what’s most frightening about the whole thing is the issue of responsibility. I’ve never really been all that irresponsible of a person. Sure, I’ve had my moments of irresponsibility, but when looking at the larger picture, instead of those few moments of weakness, I’ve really only had about six months of where I was actually acting irresponsibly. That being said, as one gets older, more and more responsibilities get heaped upon a person for them to feel responsible for. Wife, kids, house, pets, job, money, yard, laundry, blah blah blah. It gets pretty big pretty fast.
Before you know it, you’ve actually reached the point where I consider actual adulthood to begin…where you have too many responsibilities to allow you to actually become irresponsible again. Of course, there’s still the allowance for brief irresponsibleness (as long as you responsibly prepare for it), but the chance to become irresponsible is gone. BAM! You’re an adult!
I’ve found this is where I struggle most with being old. Like I said, I was never one to be all that irresponsible. However, I always toyed with the idea of becoming irresponsible, throwing abandon to the wind and doing something completely stupid. I honestly believe that is one of the things that kept me sane during some of the more troubling portions of my life. When you become an adult, you can’t even toy with them, or run the risk of being, well, a horrible human being, in many cases. When you’re an adult, you, overall, must continue to do what you are expected to do for as long as you’re expected to do it for.
It’s honestly what I believe to be one of the main reasons so many marriages fail, so many people commit suicide, and so many people are on so many drugs to keep them from doing something completely irresponsible. Adulthood can become a trap for many people, a trap that is very difficult to get out of, at least without a great deal of work and planning.
I believe those who are able to succeed at adulthood have one main item in common.
When you’re spending forty hours a week doing the same monotonous stupid tasks, answering the same monotonous stupid answers, and reporting to the same monotonous stupid boss, it can really get to a person…unless they have that light at the end of the tunnel, that plan, that goal, that item that they are trying to reach that makes it all worthwhile. When you’re young, working these same types of jobs, you can always hold the fact in your hand that you could just quit the job and run off to Mexico to live as a bartender in Tijuana because there’s nothing holding you back from doing it, should you decide you hate your job. When you’re old, those things aren’t available anymore. But a goal gives you that same state of mind, that simplistic ideology that at some point things will get better. Because if you don’t believe things will ever get better…well, that’s when you make the irresponsible decisions that you aren’t allowed to make as an adult which can have a lasting negative impact on too many people.
I’m happy to say that I have many goals, and many plans on how to reach them. My job is a requirement right now because it allows me to continue on the path to reach my goals. And when I remind myself of that fact, it’s not nearly as bad (although it’s still pretty darn bad). But then I can go to my happy place where I’ve finally attained that goal and have to start working on building a new goal for myself.
Adulthood…the place where reaching your goals isn’t good enough…because you always have to have a goal…
Anyways, that’s my little bit of pseudo-enlightening/self-reassuring input for the day. I hope you’re all having a wonderful Hump-Day and can break on through to the other side where the goal of Friday shines brightly.
Have fun out there!