I’ll be 56 in a little over a month.
That is the first time I’ve seen that in print, and it’s dawned on me that after a half of a century of life you acquire some skills. Some are remarkable, You may have learned your job well, or mastered a musical instrument. Perhaps you have become a great cook; able to bake fabulous cakes and breads so luscious out of the oven that your friends and family love hovering in your kitchen. Maybe you can identify every sports hero from the 1900’s, or have knowledge of music that is unrivaled.
Skill-sets mastered by time.
Unfortunately there are other skills we master as we grow older that are not so revered. There is avoidance, self-indulgence, arrogance, duplicity, and of course, one of my all time number one favorites on the hit chart of life: fear.
Fear of: abandonment, losing your keys, looking like a fool, hurting someone, being hurt, reaching out, rejection, dying, watching a loved one die, having your cell phone battery die, and of course change.
Fear can creep up on you at the oddest times. Sometimes all it takes is one person you care about saying something in the wrong way. Perhaps they point out a flaw or enigma in you or your life It may not be a bad or mean thing, and you may be reacting to the way it’s said. There may be a raised eyebrow with a slight lift of the voice or even no inflection at all; a cold stare and flatness.
I know what you you’re thinking, but it’s what I was raised on by my father. It’s quite good. You’ve got the savory and nut thing going on. It’s like Thai peanut sauce between two pieces of bread.
You have doubts. I can tell. It’s because of fear, and who wouldn’t be afraid of creamy peanut butter and onion sandwiches. It’s different. It’s not jelly. It’s a change.
My life, like anyone my age, has been nothing but a series of changes. Many have been spread across the decades, but in the past four years I amassed a bushel of them, perhaps a peck, I don’t know. This isn’t uncommon. We all have periods of relative calm, and then BAM we have a few years of what-the-hell-did-I-do-wrong-to-deserve-this-shit.
Sometimes there’s a catalyst, but frequently we’ve done nothing. It’s just change, which can eventually lead to greatness, but not always.
What it always does is throw fear and doubt into your life. I don’t care who you are or what you say, you can embrace change all you want, but your first reaction is usually some form of fear and doubt.
Why? Because of human nature? Fight or Flight? Fear of the unknown? There probably all the same thing. What ever it’s called, we have it to some degree in our make up, just as sure as we have marrow in our bones.
So at 56 this is not the life I saw coming, and certainly not the life I had planned, but it’s the life I have, and I am thankful. Many wonderful things have come my way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared as hell. I finally have a place to live. A place that I will once more share with my grown son. I’m interviewing for a new job, and in the last few months have a found a wonderful job on the radio that never, and I mean NEVER, in my wildest fantasy thought I would be able to do, but that I absolutely adore. I’ve ended one phase of my life, and I’m starting another. All of these things, bad and good, have caused me fear and doubt along the way, but for the first time I can see there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
The thing is-and this is the thing-if I’d have looked up more in the past four years I would have seen there were tiny little cells of light, all along the walls, guiding me towards the end,
but I was too busy looking down at my feet, wondering if they were going the right direction.
So today I begin the moving process, I have packed and lost many of my possessions in the past four years (I have packed up either my own personal artifacts or my business total of 7 times in that period). I won’t say this is my last move, but at least, for a time, I will have a place to hang my clothes, sleep at peace and make a sandwich.
One last thing-always, and I mean ALWAYS slice the onion very thin, and make sure to spread a layer of peanut butter on both pieces of bread.
If you take nothing else away from this today, please take that.