My 11-year-old called me to wish me a happy birthday so I told her the really good news: “I’m just glad my life is almost certainly half over.”
She laughed a bit nervously.
“I don’t mean to sound morbid to you…but I’m 46 now and probably won’t live another 46 years.”
Was this too much to say to her?
“We’re just a tiny spark of light between two darknesses,” I said. “And my spark can now start to flicker. I feel a sense of relief at this.”
The hardest thing about divorce is that my daughter calls me on my birthday. Sometimes I see her on my birthday. Sometimes not.
I’m sad when I think about parenting.
But that’s part of many hard things involved in living life.
Sometimes our bodies are sick. Often our minds are sick. Sometimes we are angry or insecure or sad. Sometimes the people around us are sick.
Sometimes its hard to look at a sun rising and say, “that’s beautiful.”
We are so busy thinking and planning and calculating and anxietating and placating and aching.
We think we want goals. Get a goal, get happy.
Chase the horizon so you can get there and then chase the next one.
It’s sick and bloody the way it all starts. You’re pulled out of another living being and a doctor slaps you and cuts off the one tube that was giving you happiness.
Then a religious leader cuts off part of your penis if you’re a man.
Then, for a longer period than ANY OTHER SPECIES, you have to depend on other people to feed you.
Then there’s all sorts of other daily humiliations involving excreting fluids just to SURVIVE. Not even for fun. Just…get out of me!
Who did this? Why can’t I operate via photosynthesis and then give honey to bees? That seems like a much less disgusting way to live.
Then there’s falling in love. What a drag. What a big drag.
Kissing and worrying and wondering and wishing and then getting more humiliated and ‘it’s ok, there’s always next time’ and then more humiliation.
And that’s after the first divorce.
And money. Money is the big fiction. There’s one thing that Bush and Osama Bin-Laden had in common on 9/11.
It wasn’t religion. It wasn’t country. It wasn’t a liking to the Beatles.
They both had American bank accounts.
Money is the only universal religion. The only thing we all agree on. I can take money and exchange it for stuff anywhere in the world.
And yet, I can never buy my way out of a traffic jam.
Some people hate money. I’ve often been scared I won’t have any.
Often I’ve stayed up all night thinking about money, subtracting, dividing, trying to add. Terrified of green pieces of paper with one eye.
The first written materials were because of money. As opposed to poetry, which largely sucks. Probably the first thing ever written was “Jane owes Bill, X.”
And from that one line blossomed all of the world’s literature, including Snooki’s NYT bestselling novel.
Then mix money with love. Mix that with the mythology of “the goal.” Must…have…a goal! “Success is not an option, it’s an obligation,” says a cartoon on the wall of the AirBnB apartment I’m in.
Ugh. Half over. At least.
Well, my 11-year-old said trying to change the subject, did you have fun?
I did. But when do I not have fun?
When I am around people I don’t like.
Which, after several years of weeding people out is pretty rare for me. I never spend time with people I don’t like.
When I’m sick. But I’m grateful I’m healthy.
Or when I am worried about money. But whenever I catch myself worrying about money I try to replace it for something I’m grateful for.
I’m very grateful for my 11 year old. And I’m grateful Jorge gave me that shirt this morning at breakfast. I’m grateful for all the messages on my wall today.
Gratitude doesn’t fill your bank account. It never will. And it won’t pay your rent or buy you food.
But that’s ok. It does more important stuff for you. Try it and see. It’s the sixth sense.
It lets you see the sunset, taste the food, laugh at the joke, love your daughter. Appreciate every subtlety in the life around you. It the bridge between magic and your mind.
And, at the very least, you won’t be worried about money when you are grateful for the shirt you are wearing. Thank you, Jorge.
What are you going to do the rest of the day, Mollie asked me?
I’m going to read and write. I’m going to hang out with Claudia. I’m going to maybe take a walk while the sun sets and then sleep.
And then when I wake up, my precious little baby, you will be one more day closer to the day you cry at my funeral.