Just Beginning

I'm an optimist in spite of the things that have happened to me, and a pessimist because of them. If that sounds complex, imagine what it's like inside my brain. Bad things happen, as they do in life, but I keep going. But I also expect bad things and have a tainted view of myself. I don't think any of us can really see ourselves. Just as a mirror reverses everything, so too can we misperceive the way others see us.

I generally still think of myself as the annoying little nerd with the squeaky voice rambling on about Transformers. And at my very core, that will always be a part of who I am. But I've built around and added to that core over the years, and not everyone outside my brain sees the me that I see. My mom always used to say, “to have friends, you need to be a friend”, which seemed cryptic when I was in single digits. And someone once said something to the effect that in order to be loved, we must first love ourselves. I'm having trouble finding the correct attribution for that one; does anyone know who said it? In any case, I suspect on some levels I don't like myself, which is why I'd be surprised if anyone else did.

I expected a lot of things to go wrong on Wednesday. When I crossed a bridge under perpetual construction, I thought it would finally be the day I'd find myself unable to remain in my narrow lane, and I'd scrape the concrete wall. At lunch, I thought the waves kicked up by a passing boat might shake the pier I was on and topple it, and I'd drown. Waiting to cross the street as cars ran a red light, I imagined stepping out too soon and getting splattered. A brief sharp pain near the site of old surgery was an odd thing to feel again after so many years; I wondered if that was some ominous foreshadowing of problems yet to come. And when I walked out of the gym at night, and noticed guys were working on the corrugated metal security door above the entrance, I imagined the gears snapping and the door crashing down on me in a fit of improbable probability.

But none of these things happened. I survived the day without incident. When I got to my office, two of my coworkers surprised me with cupcakes and Kit Kats, and serenaded me with ”Happy Birthday”. It set the tone for the whole day, so even though I envisioned a lot of terrible things happening to me at various points, I never actually believed that they would. A lot of friends sent me messages throughout the day, an easy enough thing to do in the digital age where computers remind us, but it still meant something to me. My mom made me steak, and I enjoyed ice cream cake with my parents after dinner. I survived 35 years on this planet, and a lot of people seemed to be happy about it, which was good enough for me. I’m still in this thing.

I spend time looking at what people have achieved by my age, what people younger than me have achieved. Once again, I find I need to remind that pessimist wrapped around an optimist wrapped around a pessimist wrapped around Optimus Prime to consider the word “yet” over the word “never”. I don't have the benefit of a FlashForward to tell me what I'm going to accomplish, what good things I might have to anticipate. But I am realizing that, while 35 years of my life are over, 35 or more are only just beginning.

Still, it won't hurt to look both ways twice before crossing the street.


Blogger Lorna said...

First of all, happy birthday.

I know that I have a forgiving nature and a sentimental streak, but I've always liked you.

11/05/2009 5:56 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

Solomon said "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." and Jesus, quoting his Dad said "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Making the loving of yourself a positive comparison, I'm sure.

11/05/2009 9:58 PM  
Blogger b13 said...

35 and still a kid at heart. Happy Birthday. :)

11/06/2009 1:52 PM  

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