So, I’ve had a lot of things happen over the past several months. Oddly, most of the ‘bad’ things really haven’t happened to me (in my personal life)…..it’s just stuff in my professional life etc. Last week, I testified in a divorce proceeding (that was also a custody situation as well) for a long-time friend/co-worker. The whole business lasted ALL DAY. I was so exhausted when I got home……it was a beating. This, after spending quite a few-dozen-hours on the phone with said friend over the past few months (not complaining…..just takes a lot out of you)……in the lead-up to this giant event. You know, maybe I would have NEVER wanted to be an attorney…..that stuff is rough, man. It was such a sad, painful event…….but in the end, my friend ended up with custody and they’re divorced…..it’s over. He gets child support, too…….not a lot, but it’ll help.
I work in Texas. Child Protective Services is really in the news these days around these parts. We read lots of things (positive AND negative) about families and children in the press since an (apparent) need for more spending in that department is present.
This is silly…..but I just feel grateful for all the good things my Mom did for me when I was a kid. I really miss her…..she died many years ago. But I just really miss her and wish I could hug her and tell her ‘thank you’ today for all the great stuff she did for me while I was growing up. The music lessons, the money for school trips, the clothes, the cooking, the shopping, the doctor/dentist/orthodontist visits, church, weekends, hugs, laughter, an attentive ear…….and so much more. Thank you, Mom. I miss you every day. When you were alive, I thanked you…..several times……but I just wish I could do so VERY LOUDLY today, right here where I am.
First, a teeny bit of back story……..I am really into haunts! I love going to haunted attractions, etc. Long story short, I invested in a VERY GOOD custom made mask for my son this Halloween season…….creepy doll/zombie kinda-thing…..trust me…..creepy. So, the other day, my daughter decides to stage a ‘clown sighting’ in our yard…..with him wearing said mask, hiding behind a big trash can……and she videos it from her room, while feigning shock and fear. She sent it out (via Snapchat) to her peeps. No biggie, right? So, her friends were a little freaked out and that’s about it.
But, later I tried to counsel her (maybe not as well as I should have) about fanning internet-based mass hysteria. The internet is FILLED with hysteria……most things going ‘viral’ is nothing more than an example of that very thing (not always, just most of the time). I like to say, ‘On the internet, he who is most offended gets the most attention.’ Later, she was asking me about the ‘clown sightings’ phenomenon. She really hadn’t heard much about it, and I knew it’d been bubbling over about the preceding 10 days or so. So, I told her about the Bermuda Triangle thing. Where the researchers took about 5 random spots on the map, and just drew triangles……and guess what? There were loads of ships/planes that’d gone down inside EACH and every one of those areas!
Yes, there may be an uptick in ‘clown’ sightings. Possibly, one factor (I believe) is the modern prevalence of excellent clown masks! One can put on/take off a mask within just a few seconds…….”Look, I’m a creepy clown. Oooooo, now I’m not!” But, people see weird and creepy things ALL THE TIME! In the 70’s, it was UFO’s. In the 80’s it was Satanic ritual sites deep in the woods. I ran across a pretty cool article today on CNN with some pretty cool stuff…..give it a read!
I generally don’t get too carried away here in terms of mental health stuff, but I thought I’d toss this into the ether as it might help someone out there. I could make this a REALLLLLL-LLLLLLYYYYY long post but I’m busy and not in the mood to do that right now.
This summer, while away on vacation, I had some time to do a little thinking about a few things…..to take stock of where I am and what I’m doing in my life. I’m in my mid-40’s (and sliding rapidly toward my LATE 40’s!)…..so these kinds of thing tend to happen around this time in a person’s life.
I make my living in the field of social services, which as anyone knows DOESN’T tend to reward workers in a large monetary sense of the word! A good number of years back, I spent some time in healthcare administration….and made EXCELLENT money, but it was VERY stressful on me and my family. Here’s the critical thing: I had several flavors of superiors (‘Senior V.P.’s’ blah-blah-blah….you get the idea). I generally DID NOT feel like I was cut out to climb the ladder and become one of those types of corporate talking-head type guys…..fine, great, groovy. In my self-talk, I might say: ‘I’m just not that type of guy.’ …….and hey, that’s perfectly fine. HOWEVER, during my ‘epiphany’ I came to realize that, in very subtle ways, I’d been insulting myself for NOT TRYING TO BE one of those kinds of guys. I’d been tormenting (so-to-speak) myself for not being one of those conquer-the-universe type guys! On one side of my brain, I knew what I was/wasn’t…..but on the other side of my brain, I spent a lot of time calling myself a ‘loser’ etc. That’s really twisted……..and so strange to me that I was just ‘deaf’ to that. To continue this thought further, I’ve often been a ‘You’re OK, I’m not OK’ kind of person. I lean toward…..’Everyone else is on a cruise’……’Everyone else is getting promoted’…..’Everyone else is getting a raise’ in my mind……..all the while, ignoring the people who’re failing/struggling left-and-right!
So, here’s the deal: Life is hard……..FOR EVERYONE! That neighbor of yours, who’s always doing great…….he isn’t……….trust me on that. Everyone you know is struggling, and clawing and huffing and puffing their way through the day JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. One of those guys I know (I respected him, and still do today)……he experienced HUGE amounts of success in a company I worked for. Then, one day, his wife couldn’t pick up a dish. He took her to the hospital, right during the midst of his perfect life and his perfect kids (each of whom belonged on a magazine cover)….and his amazing house and his incredible salary…….to learn she had a massive brain tumor. She died 18 months later, at 42…..and his world got turned upside down….his beautiful, sweet, intelligent wife, who adored him and their kids. I don’t glory or revel in that….I care about that guy……but life didn’t hand him perfection……’cause it NEVER promised that it would to begin with. No one gets perfection…..no one.
Many people, even those in their 20’s are known to say, ‘Man, I’m getting old!’ or the old chestnut, ‘Man, getting old sucks.’ But I’ll tell you what’s been on my mind here lately: The realization that I seriously AM getting older. I’m not quite in my ‘late 40’s’ just yet. But I am at that place where a lot of people find themselves…….haven’t remotely achieved the degree of career success I’d hoped for, don’t have nearly the money in the bank I’d hoped for, my marriage is so-so, my life is way too busily wrapped up in a mixture of tedious logistics and boring drivel. My business card has ‘social worker’ printed on it, but ‘guy who types numbers in little blocks displayed on a computer monitor’ is what it should read.
I honestly don’t feel like I’m in a mid-life crisis (I got that out of the way YEARS ago). I just can’t believe I have so FEW YEARS left to live. In my working life, I’ve tasted of both success and failure (as most have)…..but I’ve sort of flopped down in some sort of gray zone nestled between the two……and, in a manner of speaking, that’s OK with me. ‘Settling down’ is good for child-rearing years and I’m nuts about my kids. Work-wise, my wife is actually going through a much more painful spot that I am…..and I’m perfectly fine just grinding it out for a while so she can re-gain her footing, I really am.
It’s just hard realizing that I’m not that incredible anymore–notably, I probably never was, but for a while I THOUGHT I was (as most young people do)! I mean, I’ll nearly be an ‘old man’ in about 20 years…….20 years!!! How can I be 20 years away from being almost-old?! Geez, I’m rambling. To be continued……….
This post has been a long time coming!! I’m tired and busy right now, so I need to make it brief. I’ve spent too much time thinking my life is ‘small’……..many mechanisms of modern life can contribute to that type of mindset. There’s been a lot of dialogue about that very thing lately; ‘Everyone’s life is great and mine isn’t……..just look at Facebook and you’ll see!” Poppycock, I say.
I have a great life. I have two amazing kids. I have a (fairly) loving wife. I have a good job and a good home in a good neighborhood. I have a smart brain and a good education. I help others who have a hard time helping themselves.
I can exert very little control over what mean people do to nice people who own a pizzeria in Indiana. I can do very little to impact human trafficking in Cambodia. I doubt that I can do a lot this week to effect polar ice caps or radiation leakage somewhere. Nope I don’t own anything that floats. But, I can do something and I do do MANY things to help the world while living a full life. No, my life isn’t amazing. It isn’t filled with supermodels and high performance motorcycles (and whatever other stupid material thing that wont come to mind right now!) But I have good people and good co-workers and good neighbors and good fellow church-members in my life…..and that’s good. My life is good and I want to keep giving GOOD back to the world. I’m OK….I’m really, really OK…..and that’s great. Heck, that’s a long way from a ‘small life’!
Remember all the good in your life. Entropy resides all around us. Drink in today’s good stuff….because it won’t last forever!
In the U.S., we’re allegedly past the Great Recession now. I suppose, by-and-large, my family’s finances are better than they were 18 mos. ago. My wife and I have been through some dark, dark, DARK TIMES as far as money is concerned. We are (I guess) the average American middle-class family (although, “average” and “middle-class” are ‘moving targets’ when it comes to definitions these days). There’s been a lot said and written about personal finance over the past 5 years or so.
Personally-speaking…….I have gone through such a metamorphosis about how I think about my money. I literally cant stop myself from laughing whenever I think about how the words “happiness” and “money” used to be linked in my personal world-view. I didn’t even know it was so severe until it started to change…..and change it has. I don’t at all believe that I’m in any position to give anyone advice, except to say, “If you want to know how to do it all wrong…..then look at how we did it.”
Two final thoughs while I’m waxing on about the Almighty Dollar:
Stupid Debt will destroy you. Most of how we get into debt in America is via Stupid Debt. Generally, so long as its a small house and you have a nice, polite, tidy little mortgage (with a stable interest rate)……a house is Smart Debt. Other than that, though, Stupid Debt will be your ruin…….take my word for it.
If you’re buying to make yourself happy…….you’ll NEVER BE ABLE TO BUY ENOUGH to reach that point……..never.