Thursday, August 25, 2016

the sums never add up at all

so i wanted to write something about legacy, and cachet, and what that means to me as a measure of a person.

i guess i've been thinking about it a lot ever since the tragically hip's final concert, and the deaths of david bowie, and prince, and lemmy, and alan rickman, and every other entertainer and artist we've lost in 2016. it's the knowledge that we're all here for one time only - it's not like a video game, where you make a save point and hit reset if you want to start over again - and so you've got one shot to make your life matter. it's about having ambition to be somebody that people miss when you go, and somebody who leaves a mark on the world.

it's easy to be scared that you won't be one of those people.

it's no secret that i miss my twenties a lot, and it's mostly because for me, those years were full of so much possible for the future. i could do fucking anything. i had the chance to decide where i would build my legacy, and i would do it.

but then i kind of didn't? or at least, i haven't yet. and the trouble is that i'm a few years out of my twenties already, and i still don't know where to start, and i'm haunted by the fact that it's already too late for so many paths i could have taken.

for some people, their legacy is their children. and okay, fine; that makes perfect sense. they're the thing that gives you worth -- that confirms your life is meant for something. it was never the path for me, though, and i've known that since i was a teenager. maybe your legacy is your work and your career, but it's not like i've ever had a set career path either. i've got my writing ability, sure, but as a writer, the endgame ambition is always to write a book, but i've never had the inclination, and what would i write about anyway? my years as a hard-drinking rock n' roll party girl? we all knew that girl. it's not a very original story.

for some, their legacy is their art that they create, and that's the exact reason why i've loved musicians for as long as i have. i spent my twenties touring around with rock bands, and they were some of the finest examples of people with cachet that i've ever met in my life. they were also prime examples of what sort of sacrifices it takes, over years and years, to build a legacy. so when people ask me how i can understand those lives outside of the norm as well as i do when i've never lived them myself, i just tell them that i know, because i was there. it's built a lifelong empathy into me for any artist or entertainer who sacrifices a "normal life" in order to do what they love, and that hopefully others will love, too. it's why i've always loved them -- because i've seen the toll it takes, and i was there to listen.

cachet means a lot to me. it's a weird thing to explain, i guess, but i deeply value people with ambition, and people who want to make something out of their lives. i guess maybe i've always hoped it would rub off on me a little, and maybe i could tag along until i determined what i was meant to do. but that never really amounted to much - you can't count on somebody else to save you - and now here i am at 32 years old wondering what's left that i could do for myself, so that i don't keep having the nagging worry that i've been wasting my life.

anyway. i don't mean to be a huge bummer here; my life's good, i have my health, and things are fine. and really, i know this isn't a unique dilemma to have -- i feel like a lot of us struggle with self-worth from time to time. but i get this feeling a lot as fall approaches, because that's also when i turn one year older and get one step closer to my eventual end. and ever since i turned 30, i've started feeling more and more afraid of this time of year, because i know in my heart of hearts that i haven't added up to anything, and so many doors are already closed to me.

so what do you do when you're not sure what to do with your one life, and you can't stop feeling like you're running out of time to make something out of yourself?

exeunt existential thirtysomething crisis.

[ music | brandon flowers, "can't deny my love" ]