What it feels like to be me.
These days I am thankful for all of the people who, despite my willfulness or seeming indifference, have pushed me in directions I didn't necessarily want to go. I know that I am mostly what I wanted to be because I have spent so much time in places I didn't want to be. All of those places gave me a more complex life, but none of those places was home. Today, I am home. I am home with my family and I am at peace with myself. But I miss you all, as I usually do knowing finally that you all have your own lives to live; all the small stuff that takes up our time - that I never liked talking about anyway.
I have completed, at long last, the journey that led me to writing. I have not emerged as a writer, per se, but as someone with a sense of how everything fits together. I was fortunate enough to have the kind of youth that put two things together for me, a sense of self and a sense of what I wanted to do for work. So I never had to do much searching for those two things - only to get in touch with people who appreciated them the way I did. I had a headstart with my family who loved and appreciated me for myself, and I was fortunate enough to amble into Xerox who had a clue as to the kind of work I most enjoyed. But what was missing for me during the eight years out of highschool was any sense of how ideas and writing worked in the world and what it meant to know things - how to be worldly I guess. There seemed to be a conversation going on about America, about life with winks and nods and references I only obliquely understood and wanted desperately to live and feel. It was like half-understanding the dialog in a Woody Allen movie. Yes, I thought, I think I'm like that expression and I don't know how to have that conversation with anyone. And so I had to begin writing so at the very least, I could have that conversation with myself.
It took me all of my life thus far to develop that sense of how ideas work in the world, and I no longer feel as if I have to expend any efforts to be philosophical. I have arrived at a comfortable plateau of something akin to wisdom and accomplishment. And while I expect that I would be a bit too self-indulgent, I am at the "I could die happy if I never did anything futher" stage, as far as that goes. I know enough things so that I am no longer a slave to curiosity, not so much dragged behind the wagon in shackles as comfortably sitting in the hay bales.
What lies before me is living and working as ends in themselves, rather as means to the end of achieving enlightenment. I believe I will find a new kind of satisfaction from things I no longer need to put into perspective. I more clearly see the virtue of those simple pursuits. It gives me such great pleasure to be able to give cover to those so dedicated.
As ever, I am a defender. Well, as I have been in fatherhood and as a big brother during the first part of my life. As a young man, I was all about me. But now I am more thoroughly some sort of sheepdog with that kind of inviolable sense of purpose, if not duty. I still like going out beyond the treeline and finding the bears.
I am also a witness - a story teller and an explainer. It is my gift and the one I will give more often and freely. I will do thing in life and in work because I cannot cook. I can't talk about baseball and I can't run for 15 miles, but I can tell stories and talk a blue streak about something I know. I can answer questions and tell you the moral of the tale. I can tell you how it used to be and maybe what it's supposed to be. I can use my words and be a comfort.
I think I am on my way to being a bit more selfless, or perhaps I am just anticipating what little I'll have left for myself in a few years with three kids in college. There's a bit of mystery around that corner but I hope to negotiate it reasonably, if not reasonably well.
That's about it. I wish people I knew didn't die before we had another good meal together, but people die anyway. I feel sad about the fact that there are so many people I have known that I never will see again. I never will know who they really were except for what they seemed to me at the time - when I probably wasn't paying that much attention. I will go on unsatisfied that we didn't have all the transcendent conversations we might have.
Every day gives me another opportunity to fulfill the roles I've accepted. Dad. Architect. Writer, Entrepreneur. I will be more present in the moment and more focused on the now. There will not be so much of the complex implicated future in my occupied present. I will be available. And I intend to use my body up, and use my mind up, and use my life up on my way to my grave - to express it fully and not hold back so that I will make my impact felt while I'm here.
So if you are wishing me a happy birthday today, I say thank you for thinking of me. I'm thinking of your part of me and telling you that my happiness today is part of your doing. It feels pretty good out here at milepost 51.