My middle-age crisis isn’t buying a sports car. It’s getting weepy and nostalgic.
I find myself pulling off to the side of the road, gazing at rippling ponds and foliage, and saying a bunch of maudlin junk. I duck into corners to hide my tears at seeing young couples with their babies. This isn’t macho stuff.
All my friends are tired of me saying, “I was once that young,” when I describe Chase Long or De’Aisha Browner doing something awesome in sports.
Youth is wasted on the young, they say. Somebody said that, anyway. I never knew how good I had it. I never dreamed that stairs would require me to make a plan, or that I’d arrive at football games when they were still mowing the grass and striping the field so I could park close enough that I wouldn’t need an Uber ride.
I once heard a scientist say that the cells in our bodies die and are replaced by new ones ever so often. Maybe I’m not the same person I was 25 years ago, then. I look like me, and sound like me, and do stupid things like me, but if there’s not one cell in me that was the same as when I was born, am I still that person?
Food for thought.
My nephew Brandon and I are anxiously awaiting the next season of Stranger Things. He explains the story line to me and I babble about what life was like before cell-phones and the internet. At some point he shakes me and wakes me and I resume my lecture. It usually concludes with some very unkind comment about Don Henley.
Folks my age are becoming grandparents. I remember thinking something was amiss when Brett Favre said he was a grandfather while he was still playing. Brett and I are pretty close, and we’ve had similarly triumphant athletic careers. I was telling him the other day that I wasn’t ready to be a grandfather. He told me not to worry. I laughed for a second, then stopped abruptly.
None of this means anything, of course, in the Neitzche sense. My favorite poet, Wallace Stevens, believed that the human mind is the creator of meaning, that it gathers chaos into order and makes it make sense.
I’ll let Wallace have the last word, since Brett and Neitzche I have talked enough.
“Oh blessed rage for order, pale Ramon. The maker’s rage to order words of the sea. Words of the fragrant portals dimly starred, and of ourselves and of our origins.”