Thursday, February 3, 2011

Magnum Force

It has been said that age brings wisdom along for the ride with it. Taking stock today - for today is my 44th birthday - I think that as it relates to me the jury remains very much "out" on that issue. Lines embedded ever deeper in the skin around my eyes? Yes. An ever-expanding population of gray hair both on my head and in my beard? Indeed. More and more joints that create the impression of me having come under small-arms fire every time I change from a standing to sitting position and vice versa? Present and accounted for. Increased knowledge? Still on back order. Estimated date of arrival? Unknown.

Truth be told I likely have picked up at least a kernel or two of wisdom as I have ambled along to this point in the road on this journey we call life. Even for an idiot like me it would have been impossible to have not either tripped over it or had some of it drip onto me, given that I have lived my life in close proximity to those who have had much to share. First of course it was Mom, Dad and the Party of Five that I crashed when I arrived as the final piece of the sextet. And for the past two decades it has been Margaret, Suz, Rob and the Pasta Posse that I have picked up along with them. Try as I might to avoid learning anything from any of these sources, given my lack of foot speed and elusiveness it has been impossible.

Years ago - in the 1980's - when Phil Collins was enjoying a remarkable spate of success as a solo artist to the point where it seemed that every third song on the radio was one of his, an interviewer asked him if he had an explanation for his success. Collins, in a moment of absolutely wonderful self-deprecation, responded, "Throw enough shit against the wall and some of it is bound to stick." I smiled when I read it more than two decades ago for the first time. I smiled this morning again thinking about it. His quote is my mantra.

When I was half as old as I am now, I had no idea whether I would live to be the age that I now am. Truth be told - at 22 - I was as apathetic about reaching 44 as I was about reaching 24. At the age I was then I never could have imagined that at the age that I am now I would be married to a woman who candidly is a far better person than I deserve and be a proud parent of two exceptional young adults. At twenty-two, I presumed that life would be simply a solo expedition. I did not know then - how could I have for unlike P Squared I did not know to look for my own shadow to forecast the future - that four years later I would be a soloist no longer. I am one quarter of a quite-Fab Four if I do say so myself. The one and only Billy Shears? Indeed I am.

As I mark Birthday #44 and commence Lap 45 in this race of indeterminate length, I shall do today what I do every year on this day: speak with Mom on the phone and wish her Happy Birthday. This day belongs to her - not to me. I had as little to do with my arrival as I did with my conception, which is to say not a damn thing at all. It was Mom after all who ensured that P Squared and I would not be twin sons of different mothers by ensuring that I arrived on February's third day and not its second. Considering how grotesquely large my head is - and it was quite a bit worse as a child - her abdominal strength turned out to be a blessing for people all over for with my jumbo-sized cranium looming over him, P Squared would have no shot of seeing his shadow.....ever. An American tradition would have been dashed on the rocks of Big Head Island. I always have wished she had been able to hold on until a more temperate time of the year, such as June, but beggars cannot choosers be; right? Anyway, I thank you Mom for your vigilance. In my next lifetime, we can revisit the issue of the first name.

Forty-four years further on up the road. Do I feel lucky? Indeed I do.


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