On the Value of Reading Books, Avoiding the Weather, and Playing Guitar Indoors

This morning, I realized that, in just over two-and-a-half years, I’ll be fifty years old. That thought caused me to stop and ponder. And as many things do these days, it also inspired me to want to take a nap.

Here’s a bit of me-related trivia: Once I reached a certain point in life, I never considered age to be terribly important. I spent my twentieth birthday in the navy, my thirtieth went by without a sound, and forty arrived, left, and barely said a word. But now fifty looms, and suddenly it gives me pause?

This is what really makes me think: Along with being hit by the reality of the passage of time, I also realized I’m long overdue for a mid-life crisis. Not to be an alarmist, but it occurs to me that this could be serious.

Don’t get me wrong. I participated in some dangerous stuff when I was younger. Despite growing up in Alabama, where the only person more reviled than the heretic is the agnostic, I refused to pledge allegiance to either of the state’s deities, Alabama or Auburn. Up until the age of about twenty-five, I rode a motorcycle, even did so in California for a while, demonstrating my manliness by refusing to wear a helmet. I lived in one of the toughest areas in San Diego, though in fairness, being generally averse to weather in all its forms, I spent most of my free time indoors. Also, the band I was in played numerous gigs with Hell’s Angels in attendance–so, you know, I and every other musician on the California coast shared that distinction with Mick Jagger and the Stones–and I even bungee-jumped on my thirtieth birthday.

But all these adventures took place, as careful readers will realize with the aid of a bit of subtraction, A Long Time Ago.

These days, my life is pretty mellow. I still avoid weather when I can manage it, I haven’t flown an airplane in about fifteen years, I quit smoking at about that same time, and although my book collection could probably crush me to death if I somehow ended up pinned beneath it, I don’t think reading qualifies as a dangerous activity. Same thing goes for playing guitar, at least the way I do it now: in the privacy of my own home with no actual bikers present.

As I see it, there are four possibilities as to why I haven’t gone mid-life bonkers, dashing out to shave my head, get a tattoo, start wearing a bandana, or purchase a convertible. One is that I’m actually going to live to be over ninety-four years old and therefore haven’t yet reached my half-life. While that could happen, it’s doubtful. Another option is that, since I don’t have children, I’m bereft of those hyperactive, mucus-producing little treasures who serve as constant reminders of their parents’ progression through the halls of time. Or it could be because I never actually grew up, which, now that I think about it, seems likely. Lastly, the reason I might not have embarked on that last gasping grasp at elusive youth might just be because I’m happy with the life I have now.

I’m going to go with a combination of three and four.


  1. Mike Herndon says:

    Or it could be 5: You avoid math. Or maybe that’s just me. Bring your guitar the next time you’re in Mobile and let me know.

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