Originally, this was going to be written in the hungover remains of a Sunday afternoon. In the aftermath to a planned celebration and wake for my 20s filled with good whiskey, company, and with a new story to tell. Alas, I have instead found myself staring at a positive Covid test on my desk, and dealing with an internal temperature that is perfectly suited for a feverish introspection on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s of the last 30 years.
Oddly fitting actually. Even looking back at the amount of shit I’ve managed to compact into the last decade is akin to a fever dream of its own volition. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a lucky bloke to have seen so much of this planet and met some of the craziest carnival characters that you’d ever hope to meet for three lifetimes over. Nothing good ever lasts forever, and while my 20s had their fair share of heartbreaks, disappointments, losses, and loose ends – if I had to do it all again, there wouldn’t be much I would change. Except for that one time.
This is a little stream-of-consciousness-y because I really haven’t processed it all myself. Everyone keeps telling me that “This is the milestone”, “This is the big one”, “OhHhHh enjoy it while it lasts” in varying levels of optimism. Some say it with a little more regret in between breaths, and others don’t seem to believe it at all. I can’t help but think that my thirties could be a movie that doesn’t quite live up to the hype, though I’m hoping it’s more Dark Knight Rises than Godfather III.
Most people seem to have an idea of it by this point, or at least they project a version of themselves that has one. But let’s rip a few bandaids, I’m not in any realistic position to be a property owner in this decade, in this city anyway. It could occur, but I’d likely be making the final payment a few years before I get buried in the back of it.
Other strangeness I’ve noticed in the last few years is the number of people who are simply wired a little different. Marriage, kids, the picket fence are all wonderful roads for those with the vehicular access and the desire to travel it. There were a few paramours that may have been the right place/right time sorts. The few romantic endings that could’ve or should’ve been, are now grazing much greener pastures or off the grid in faraway lands. Let’s chalk that up to poor timing… or perhaps very good timing in the case of one.
With that in mind, I guess my main goal for the foreseeable is not to go monumentally bigger and better. Instead I think it will be to try to keep the legs going, keep the ink running, and keep the curiosity aflame. I don’t think it’s so juvenile to imagine a life of remote existence, or one in a different timezone or language. It’s not quite as comfortable, but it doesn’t have to be as rough as it has been in the past either.
The beautiful thing about wandering is there is always a certain place for any pace. This isn’t just some hippie shit, I really did base this ideology on some science(ish).
Time & Barroom Scholars
When I made a living behind bars, people talked. They talked about everything, they talked about everyone. The bartender was the unholy combo of a malfunctioning wishing well and deaf psychiatrist who enabled and nodded along. Across the various bars I worked at I recall a recycled rhetoric that usually spilled from the older patrons, “life passes you by faster as you get older sonny!” – Paraphrased from 7 years of data.
I used to think this was a symptom of alcoholism. I mean, they were in a bar and it was usually the regulars and unappreciated scholars of fermented fantasy that would say it to me, or to themselves, I could never tell.
But I got curious.
I began reading articles about time perception in the brain, the feeling of it moving faster as we age. A concept that has been explored to varying degrees by the smarter people who seem to have similar fears of losing the road ahead. Far as I could tell, our perception of time occurs as ‘in the moment’ or ‘in retrospection’. Basically a fancy way of saying we process things right now, and as they were in memories.
You know that feeling you get when you’ve just done something new, been somewhere new, or spoken to someone new and time seems to have passed by in a flash? Turns out that’s your brain working overtime, encoding those delicious new dalliances and pathways. Passes quick in the moment, but will inevitably leave a lasting impression in retrospection.
You ever have a boring month of repetitive work that has been uninspired and it feels like it drags on forever? But, when you think back it has all been a blur and you think, “shit, it’s May already?!” Yeah, that’s your brain getting bored. No new processes will lead to a much slower in the moment passing, but nothing to show for it when you look back in retrospection.
It’s a strange little dichotomy that to have a life that will feel longer in hindsight, you need to sacrifice the amount of time you have in immediacy by changing up the cards more often. Speaking as someone who is spending his birthday weekend in isolation, a low-grade fever, a fairly recent farewell, with nothing but time on his hands… the thickened memories are certainly more comforting.
The old bastard knew what they were talking about, it can be easy to get trapped in a loop and lose decades if the playing field remains the same.
So, the plan for the next 10, 20, 30 years? No fucking clue. However, when I think back to the last 30 years of my life I’m content. There’s such a beautiful and eclectic mixture of unbelievable stories, tedious everyday’s, random romances, and repressed tragedies that all consolidate into this moment now. It’s hard to imagine letting it all become repetitive, especially when the engine is only just warming up.
So if I get to the age where hindsight is outweighing the mysterious tomorrow and all that remains is a jumbled flash of repetition, I’ll book the trip to Switzerland myself.
That was a joke *cough*… Sorry, the covid is kicking in.