Collision course to catastrophe or keeping it real and rocking?
Sitting and caressing a cup of cocoa, thoughts of life, the universe and how 42 was definitely not the right answer, start creeping into the remaining cells of the grey matter now thinly stretching across the vast empty cavern of my rattly old skull.
And inevitably thoughts turn to the unrelenting passage of time and the advancing of years, and each time a calculation is performed afresh in my head, even though a hundred previous attempts have all ascertained it to be truth beyond any ability of disingenuous number-manipulation to prove otherwise.
The result is always a confirmation that that there are less years ahead of me, then those ticked off the calendar of my inconsequential life history thus far. I’m way beyond the half way mark. I’m over the peak and plunging down towards the two-thirds point.
The brakes are gone, the steering is shot, the suspension’s knackered and Hill Descent Control didn’t even exist when this particular vehicle was assembled.
If it sounds like it all feels a bit out of control, that’s because it is. And yet, I thought the second innings would be easier. Where’s the quiet calm, and contemplative maturity, that we’re automatically supposed to be endowed with, you know, when some of the follicles turn silvery and the rest fall out?
Did I miss a turn back there? Did I pass go and forget to stop and collect my anti-immaturity ointment? Why isn’t my nous in possession of all the answers?
Why is it that, when things go a bit awry, I still look around for an adult, and stand ready to burst into tears if I don’t find one. Yes I know, you’re now picturing me stamping my foot and bawling my eyes out. Pathetic isn’t it? But a realistic vision nonetheless I’m afraid.
Of course I can’t admit this to my family – it’s okay, they don’t read anything I write anyway. Nobody does. Frankly I’m astonished you’re even here.
Naturally, like my own late father, I have to project an aura of know-it-all indomitability, be a pillar of dependable solidity that steadfastly and unwaveringly holds up the weight of our own little world within this world. Of course my dad was the real deal. A proper superhero.
I’m not even a half adequate sidekick. Even the Boy Wonder wouldn’t befriend me.
And that burden on my shoulders? It’s got me stooped over double already, perspiration is burning my eyes, and the legs are wobbling like jelly on a plate left on a washing on its final spin cycle. Plus the back could go any minute!
Meanwhile I’m still trying to figure it all out.
And that there, is both my greatest failure and my biggest advantage. Failure because I’ve been rather slow at this whole conquering-life thing, but an advantage because at least there’s one faculty that is still ticking and thriving.
And that is the desire to learn, develop and adapt.
That’s the beacon right there. The threadbare rope to rescue me.The thing to cling too. The shackle to save me. The chance for redemption.
You see, knowing that you don’t know everything, is the first step to knowing everything, which you never can of course. It thus follows that you cannot complete all the aforementioned steps to knowing everything, which implies that the end cannot be reached, and therefore everything continues indefinitely. And you live forever.
Okay that was a stretch too far for even the most ambitious slingshot, but you get the sentiment.
As for the manic run down the hill? It’s not the brakes you want, it’s the accelerator. It’s like turning into the wave, flying into the wind, charging against the crowd (a favourite pastime of mine) – you need not slow, but build the momentum, to harness the energy and catapult up at the end, that’s where you’ll find the real second innings.
Of course none of this is making any sense to you. Senility’s taken over you’re pondering. He’s lost what little was left of his mind down the back of the sofa, along with his pension fund (a few pennies and an old piece of chewing gum – I haven’t bloody chewed gum in decades!).
But in fact, it’s when you start to believe that you’re a done-it-all, know-it-all, smart-old-git, that you truly start to fail at life. So called seniority of this sort, is a weighty anchor that puts you out of synch with the fast moving times we’re experiencing in the extraordinary 21st century.
Wonder, fascination, curiosity, humbleness are the sparkplugs that’ll keep this old combustion engine redlining at the limit, even whilst most around you are whirring their electric motors fresh from the Temple of Musk.
Not growing up, not knowing it all, still frantically searching for an adult (which mostly goes by the name Google these days) is what keeps things fresh, exciting and young.
So if you do catch my fists balling, my lower lip quivering and my eyes welling up, don’t worry, it just means I’m still in the game. Because I haven’t mastered the game yet.
And here’s hoping I never will.