Friday, October 16, 2009

Eleven years at a time…

Wow. Forty-four. Really?

Even as I write this, forty-four years ago I was coming out “the shute”… As I look back, the one thing that strikes me is how unlikely it all is and how I should never presume to know how it’ll turn out.

When I was just a quarter as old as I am now, I had no inkling I’d live this long. When I was eleven, I didn’t know I’d end up a writer or an actor. I had dreams. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” but I had no idea what it meant to write or act… just as I had no idea what it meant to grieve or to love…

At half my age, I had very clear ideas. At 22, I knew what I’d be, how I’d do it, where I’d end up… the lot. And I was wrong about nearly all of it. I was sure I’d never act again, that my first novel would sell, that my first wife and I would be together forever, and so on. If you counted up the misconceptions of my life, I’m sure they’d add up to at least 22 but the biggest one would be that I knew anything about my life.

Just one quarter of a lifetime ago, at 33, things were quite the opposite. Nothing was sure. Things were falling apart in my marriage, I’d become so discouraged in my writing that I was hardly moving forward, and though I had a house and a new car I never really felt sure.

At 44, so much is the same even as so much is different. I can sympathize with my 33 year old self because things still don’t feel very sure, an unfortunate side-effect of my divorce. It’s taken half my life to learn that when you think you know everything, that’s when you don’t. I’ll make no wagers as to where my life will be at 88, should I live that long, because I know things could change as much between then and now as they have in the first half (or more) of my life. Fortunately, I’m blessed with still retaining that eleven year old’s dreams of “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”

There are some real surprises for me this morning. At 44, I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. I am more the person I had hoped to be at eleven than the person I was sure I’d end up as at 33. Somewhere, hope returned. And the comedy in my saying that may not be obvious to you, the reader. What you don’t know if that I had an absolutely awful interview yesterday. One of the highlights of the meeting with four execs, interviewing for a job planning strategies for e-commerce, was the one guy who saw on my resume that I’d done some technical writing and decided not to read any further than that one line. “You’re just a technical writer. You don’t know anything about any of this,” he told me, repeatedly, refusing to listen when I explained the rest of my resume to him. Things look pretty grim right now but that’s just right now. They’ve been better and they’ll be better still… at least, I hope so.

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