Younger The Older I Get

All I want to do is rock and roll. That’s all. Lower the windows, turn the dial way up, checklist the things getting smaller in the rearview as I press the pedal to the metal in my marshmallow Corolla and follow 95 North as far as it will take me, lip-syncing every lyric on the way to anywhere the road might go. Map a coastal route by possible minyanim or the shape of the shoreline, ecstatic in the freedom of each moment on the road – sensing awe as close to Gd as ever, attempting some kind of wonderful, seeking any kind of communion, an extended hisbodedut at 75 miles per hour on the edge of the contintent.

Then again, there’s all those other things I want to do. Or need to do. With other people; for other people. Like my wife and kids. Some friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Then again –

All I want to do is chill on a forever young afternoon in late spring by the beach. Really, that’s all. Briny wind carrying sand into my sun bleached hair as I slowly pedal a fat tire cruiser along the broadwalk, seagulls sauntering in wind currents above, the day baking me brown and freckled. I can’t help but squint at the brightness of nothing much to do and nothing much to worry about.

All I want to do is have time to play with time.

What’s with these escapist desires? Are they symptoms of acute, incurable nostalgia? Is this a mid-life crisis?

I am 45 years old. Have been for months now. It’s not difficult to understand how much I’ve changed, one way or another, from my insufferable, adorably self-centered, and dangerously indestructible 20s to now. Marriage, kids, career, crow’s feet. There’s one thing in particular that just doesn’t change, though – and it makes life so much harder than it could (or should?) be. But I still refuse to change it.

I refuse to grow up. I have lust for life rooted in carelessness, selfishness, and creativity. And I love it.

This is not something I want to change. It’s something I want to better accommodate. Because there are those moments in time to be made if you want them. Or need them.

I think we need them. All of us.

I do not deny or avoid adulthood, which includes the responsibilities we all know about and take on with dutiful shifts of less and less self.

Adulthood demands that things get done. And I work on that every day.

Unfortunately, I love procrastinating. Part of me must believe it’s still worth all the pressure I end up working under, otherwise I would have learned otherwise.

Growing up, I was privileged to be able to think I had all the time in the world.

I grew to love wasting time. This got me in a lot of trouble, but to me, it was never a waste.

I grew to love daydreaming. This was a salve to the trouble I got into. It was just another kind of prayer.

Listen, I love staring at the clouds or staring at the horizon while sitting on the beach hearing the surf break across the shoreline in a steady rhythm. And so I find the moments to do so.

I love going for long drives blasting tunes or going for long walks listening to the cadence of my own breath. And so I find the moments to do so.

I love reading for hours with no concerns or drinking buckets of strong, liquid candy Cuban coffee and writing brain drains full of inconsequential details I later give significance with language in context and juxtaposition. And so I find the moments to do so.

And then there are those thousands of moments a day that I just want to say, “The option is on the table.” And then say, “To hell with it!” And then take the option and get in my car and just go. And keep going.

But I don’t.

There are other thousands of moments a day that I just want to take my wife and kids on a cross-country adventure in a rented RV.

But I don’t.

The kid in me still has to listen to the adult.

[sc name="ad-300x600"]

But the adult, he’s fond of that kid. That kid has valid concerns. And he’s good to me.

Listen, I am 45 and I still ask Gd why life is so freaking hard, why we have all of these damn bills to pay, why we have to work our butts off for so little. Is that me the adult or me the kid?

I am 45 and I still thank Gd for every blessing, for every smile, for every lightbulb I see bursting on bright like the birth of a star in the wavy space above a student’s head. Is that me the adult or me the kid?

Listen, I ask Gd, I don’t know how much I have left, but however much it is, I want time. I want more time. I want more time to not waste. I want more time to walk in a forest. I want more time to read all the books. So many books! I want more time to write. I want more time to drink strong whiskey and good beer.

You know, I quit smoking for good 15 years ago, but man, there’s the voice of that reckless putz inside of me that really would love to light up a Camel just for the heck of it, just because being bad even to myself just might feel so good in the face of all the phony bull of the world and some of the people who people it.

I don’t and I won’t, but that kid is fun. Unfocused, immature, but really enthusiastic about causeless rebellion against blind conformity, as if he lives in a madly drawn comic book dystopian universe.

Who but parts of who I am and have been and will forever be am I talking about? To whom but to myself is this love letter written?

To you, too, then. To the kid in you. Because that kid is awesome, too. All the kids. Look at their faces. Look at your faces. Who you were you still are, and she can be let free.

Listen, I still have faith in the goodness of people in the small moments between the rest of the time that I don’t. Don’t you? The innocent versus the cynic, the heart versus the head.

I’m 45. I’m supposed to be over this battle, aren’t I?

But at 45 I apologize easier than ever.

This has taken experience and the wisdom of some years, thank Gd.

At 45 I’m more accepting of others’ and my own faults.

This has taken experience and the wisdom of some years, thank Gd.

At 45 I have learned how to breathe through the crap life sometimes has to offer without suffocating too much on the noxious fumes.

This has taken experience and the wisdom of some years, thank Gd.

But at 45 I still know myself to be 14 sometimes and 22 at others, free from all bounds in my mind, lustful for life at its fullest.

And still, at 45 I am solidly 45: realistic, pragmatic, responsible.

I have a job to do. And promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Because, dammit, if I want those moments of beautiful, childish freedom and exuberance, I have to give them the room to happen by taking care of business first. And that takes work.

But then I can play. And play I will.


Image from