Obviously I am interested in ways to become a better, more fulfilled, sexier and smarter human being. And this time of year caters to that impulse in a beautiful, shiny way! December and January always bring out the fitness apps and online programs, the moleskin journals for gaining efficiency and insight, and the life centering posters/books/podcast sprees, what have you. But this year was different for me. I got intensely depressed.
I mean really despondent, as in barely keeping my emotional head above water. For two solid days, from waking to sleep, I struggled to yank my brain out of its cycle of thoughts that made me feel progressively more terrible, thoughts that sat in my gut with all the weight of a barrel of molten lead. It felt terrible. It was a week before Christmas, just days before my own birthday. And here is what started it.
If I live to 90 years old, my life is officially half over.
I am now on the downhill run. And all those dreams, intentions, and desires I have carried with me are a hell of a lot more likely to go unfulfilled.
I may never act on stage again. My first love and purpose in life, the only job I have truly felt vital doing and felt truly good at, and there is a real possibility I may never do it again. At least not in the meaningful, changing the world through art kind of way. Art *does* change the world. It simply won’t be being created by me.
I may never go on some of those adventures I have planned, might not ever actually learn to sail even though I live surrounded by water, may never get around to climbing Mt. Rainier although it is in my backyard. I may never give up drinking alcohol and occasionally being a raving asshole because of it, may always give in to my anger and self doubt and petty judgements of other people, and might find myself turning into the kind of bitter old man I have never wanted to be. All because I have unceremoniously passed the halfway point in my life. Truly, if I haven’t done it yet what is the likelihood I am going to force my crappy ankles, beer belly, grumpy heart, and balding head to do those things now?
Yep, I was that kind of depressed. And while to friends and family it most likely seemed a bit absurd or indulgent, it was as dark and real as it gets. The Black Dog had bitten, and the Undertoad was fierce! (bonus points if you name that book!)
Two thoughts pulled me out of what had the potential to be a pretty nice emotional crash & burn.
One was “for fuck’s sake, at least hold it together in front of the boys!” I might have felt like giving in to the black dog, but I would be damned if my sons would see that!
The second thought was this. I may live until I am 90, that is very true. And I might just die in the next few moments. And when I really sat with that thought, pondered what that would actually mean…it was the the happiest thought I had in two days!
I mean, our lives are so very, very short. They are ultimately (taking the long view) of no permanent significance. The meaning must be forged of our lives, with the people we choose to spend our most precious commodity- time. Nobody can confer this on you, it is not a gift you are given- the work is done by being present as often and as much as you can with the people who add meaning to your life just by being in it.
So my resolution is this. No new shit. I will not start a new sport out of the impulse to do something new “before it is too late!” I am going to stick with what I am doing now, kicking and punching people, and trying to not get hit as often in return. I will not drop everything and go back to acting, no matter how many former colleagues I see in a commercial, in a film, or on a hugely popular show about naval investigators in New Orleans. I am going to continue to slowly get better at my job, and maybe make time for a project that scratches that itch, makes me happy, and doesn’t take me away from family for months at a time. I am not going to try for some radical body/mind/soul changing regime of herbal tea enemas, drinking puddle water (whatever the hell that is about…), or swinging from trees in a loincloth.
I am simply going to keep breathing. Breathe, motherfucker.
I will let the people in my life know that I love them as often as I can.
I will keep this in mind- halfway there is still a long, long ways to go.
And breathe, motherfucker. Breathe.
And the cold soaks. Yeah, still going to do those. Because those are pretty bad-ass.