SO, the world at large has now had 35 years to live and deal with my greatness.
I was born into a world of WAR - Just 6 weeks after Saigon fell, my youth was peppered with pop cultural references to the war, both in news stories and just from living in a rural setting mere miles from a highly productive military base. In my life I also recall the situation in Grenada, the nightly updates of the Russians in Afghanistan ( how'd that work out - going into Afghanistan to force a different way of life on those folks? Hmmm. ) , The Balkan Conflict, the fall of the Soviet Empire and all of the fighting that was nightly on the networks, the first Gulf War, so clean and antiseptic, yet feeling like failure shortly there after with a "no fly zone" and little else to show for it, and of course the current conflicts. Pepper in the ever present Israeli - PLO fight in the Gaza, the active IRA of the eighties and here recently the resurgence of Pirates, yes, Pirates on the open water, and I just wonder: WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE TRYING TO DO AS A PEOPLE BESIDES KILL EACH OTHER?
I grew up listening to the music that was new when my parents were kids - Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Janis Joplin, Credence Clearwater Revival - and kinda skipped the whole 80's early pop shit. Then Grunge and from somewhere I got interested in old Outlaw country - Willie, Walylon, Merle. Now in the second half of my fourth decade I find the "yacht rock" ( search it on youtube for a treat ) to be what draws me. So now I listen to Metallica one minute, and Loggins and Messina the next. Must be the chaotic influence of growing up with so much war.
I have broken all the rules, both he real, and the "unwritten". Have I done things to my body the law said were wrong? Sure. Have I slipped and erred, blinded by greed, or desire, or the illusion of being "smarter than others"? Of Course. Did I get caught and pay the punishment? Every damn time. I am a firm believer now as an older man that nothing you can do can remain hidden forever. So just be good, do no harm unto others and live your own life. I admit this is hard for me to do. There is a little bit of con man in every person I think, and mine really wants to get out and show sometimes, but I am trying to keep that little fucker in check.
I tried to think and decide what has been the most historical event in my life - and there are so many. I remember the first Space Shuttle flight. I remember the Pope being shot - and later ( and more impressive to me in fact ) forgiving his shooter. I recall the WACO tragedy and the raidon the Weaver Compound. Then there was the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the introduction of women to the Citidel. And of course the amazing election of President Obama, breaking an over 200 year race barrier. But I think, on a global scale, the most important historical event will be judged as the events on September 11. Not from any patriotic viewpoint, but from the sense that so small a group (19 men ) could wreck so much havoc. Sadly, while I was whipped up in the patriotic furor that immediately followed, like many Americans I now feel as if the cause and fighting have been hijacked and are now done without regard for the original catalyst that started it.
On a much more personal scale, I have now been married for 17 years - pretty much half my life. And each day tips the scales to married longer than not. I am so amazed with my Sweetums - hard times, mean times, hurt times, good times, great times - we have been through them all. And will do so until one of us has the blessed duty of laying the other one to rest. I hope it's me that goes first - I'll never know how to live without her. Selfish I know, but sincere none the less.
I have fathered 3 sons. They are growing more every day, and I look forward to their being men. I do not care to guess how their lives will turn out - those are their chapters to write. I just want them to always know I loved them.
I have lost friends to the world already - some whose faces are with me daily. I can only hope, if I were to die today, that others would remember me the same. Is that vain, to want to be remembered? I think perhaps a little - but all the world is vanity. I seem to remember hearing that somewhere before.
I have made my amends to the world for those I have wronged in friendship and love. I have paid my personal penance for them. If they cannot forgive, then let the burden of sorrow be theirs, my mind and heart a free.
I have never been a good athlete - much less a great one. I ran awkwardly, even as a child, well before two traumatic leg injuries to my left side, so I cannot blame those incidents. I had such a shitty golf game that I quit several times before finally getting so fed up I walked off a course id round and sold my clubs. I can bowl fairly well, but then most middle aged beer swillers can, too. I simply never had that drive to improve, to practice, to learn form or techniques. But inwardly I am often ashamed of my lack of athleticism. It's kinda weird if you don't understand it I guess.
I always enjoyed the work of a kitchen. I had an apprenticeship in a Bed and Breakfast under a Chef when I was just out of school, and was fired. ( To this day I do not know why - except one of the server's best friends was doing my job the night I showed up and was canned. Who knows - I know I did nothing wrong in that instance ) Anyway - I was young, I was scared, and I took the first job I could find - going to work in construction. Now I have dirt in my veins, and it has been good to me, but I would be lying if I said that a single day passes when I do ot wish I was in a kitchen, one way or another. I very seriously mourn the loss that work. And am sad knowing that I'll never quit what I am doing ( it pays the bills ) and follow a dream. And when I can follow it, and my kids are grown and gone, I'll be too old to make any kind of impact. Sad indeed. As a result, I pretty much worship anyone in the culinary field - they are doing what I want - kind of a hero like worship.
And I think this is enough for now. Thank you to all of you who offered me kind words on this my 35th birthday, and I remind you :
Have fun kids. It's a mean mother fucker of a world out there right now - look out for one another.
The Hillbilly Philosopher