Hi, Folks. I don’t normally talk about personal stuff, and I’ll post (or not post) this based on whether I believe it would illuminate matters for others in their own lives. Sort of in the same vein that I believe that it is important for people to talk about depression, bring it out into the open for the good of everyone, and not hide it behind the curtains.
I’m glad to say that I’m not depressed. I’m doing great. I’m keeping busy, my health has been good (if you overlook this stupid cold that I’ve been dealing with for the last few days), my day job persists, and I have as much illustration work to do as I want or feel I can take on. No complaints.
About a week ago, Benita and I went to a showing of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” at the Murat Theater. It’s amazing to me how well this movie holds up over the years (37 years, +/-). After the show, William Shatner came out and did a short, personal show and then a Q n A session with the audience.
I’ve always loved William (“Call me Bill”) Shatner, and am a lifelong fan, and I’m glad to report that at 88 he is incredibly dynamic and a force of nature unto himself. He seemingly has as many projects in the air as ever, and has a full slate of acting, writing, producing, and horse-related projects in the air. (He is passionate about horses and riding.)
Something occurred to me as I watched and listened. Shatner was much older, but he did not act as if he had missed his opportunities or his life was over. He was engaged with the world head on, and where he is in life is where he is. He has gained weight, and joked about it, and tossed around a lot of age-related jokes, but he in no way seemed in mourning for the handsome young man he had been. That was then, and this is now.
That got me to thinking. I have lived in ongoing embarrassment over my current state. I have very much mourned the loss of my long, beautiful hair, my youth, my flexibility, and I’m very troubled by my weight gain, and I guess what amounts to the loss of myself in my own mind.
Now I have to wonder, does it have to be this way? Should I be ashamed to run into people I knew earlier in life, or family? Should I have to make excuses for what I have become? Could I be looking at the whole thing wrong?
Maybe I am. I’m someone else now, someone in his fifties. I am not the good looking young guy that turned heads and got all the attention. I’ve been there, and I’ve done that, but now I’m at a different stage. Is that really all that bad? Should perhaps I engage in the now and the current me? Given the choices of living in sadness at the loss, and living in the full now, there seems to be only one right answer.
So, here I am. I’m 54. I’m overweight (like most people my age), I’m bald, and I’m certainly not standing out in a crowd or turning heads. I get by based on personality, humor, skills, and the authority granted by lots of experience and past achievements. There are more people than ever that look to me as an example, and who actually listen to what I have to say. I actively mentor several excellent young people, and passively provide an example and sounding board to many, many more. One thing I hear is “you are the only person who gets me,” or “you are the only person here who makes any sense.” The one that really gets me though is when someone says something along the lines of “you are the only person who ever took me seriously as ___,” or “your are the only person who told me it’s OK to be ___.”
As you probably know, my philosophy is one of building people up, not tearing them. I’ve talked about this in more detail at other times, so I’m not going to repeat it all here. But, if I can save a life from the negative voices and self-doubt, and inspire people to become who they should become, then maybe that’s worth it. I would love to be young and attractive and cool again, but that’s not an option. So, I think that I should embrace who I’ve become, and put aside shame and loss.
Food for thought and personal reflection, I think.