Monday, August 28, 2006

Dabbling in Mid-Life Crisis

"Those who can, do. Those who can't teach. Those who can't teach, teach PE." - anon.

"Those who have lives, live. Those who don't, blog." - jldude.

"I hate quotations. Just tell me what you know" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The big 40 birthday is fast approaching, so now might be time to take stock. Do a little navel gazing. Or should I skip all that and go straight to Mid-Life Crisis Sports Car? The last few years I'm come to think of myselft as a dilettante, a dabbler, a jack of all trades, master of none, a jumper on of bandwagons Hot and New, a tryer of many things and failer at them all.

Dabbling
As a young lad I wanted to be two things: 1. a writer. 2. Rich. In college I majored in English Literature and sold drugs to support my reading habit. I enrolled in a Masters Program for Creative Writing. I dropped out after one semester. I trained to be a journalist. Got bored.

Went to Japan to teach English (two years). Went to Hong Kong, ended up in journalism. Planned on staying a year, left after six.

I discovered a talent for landing dead-end jobs, some paying quite well, some not. They all led, sooner or later, to a state of discontent. Here then are some of the bandwagons I've hopped on and off:

Bandwagon 1: screenwriting/filmmaking. Robert Rodriguez and Tarentino hit the Big Time. I wanted in. I couldn't afford film school, so I wrote a screenplay, made my own short, submitted to film festivals. Nothing.

Bandwagon 2: Internet companies hit the Big Time. People were getting rich. I wanted in. I invested in tech. Lost my shirt.

Bandwagon 3: Poker. I'm good. But apparently not good enough.

Bandwagon 4: Real Estate. I bought a house. I'm a landlord.

Bandwagon 5: Blogging for meaning and money.

Even in my arts and crafts projects, I jump from medium to medium, from Photoshop to origami to bookmaking to woodworks.

To be fair and charitable to myself, lately I've been thinking, maybe I'm really well-rounded, perhaps even a rensaissance man, a polypath. A seize-the-day and opportunity kind of guy. Yeah, right.

I've been thinking alot about the whole Calling vs. Occupation, Passion vs. Profits debates. Trying to discover what my purpose in life, where's the meaning, trying to find what I really love so I can do that. And make some money, too.

To paraphrase Dostoevsky, if you place a ladder in front of a man, he will climb it. Today he would say if you set a man at the starting line of a rat race, he's gonna stretch before he gonna runs like hell to win. At the risk of mixing my metaphors (mixing metaphors being an occupational hazard of the dilettante), I have been climbing one Dostoevsky ladder after another. Or I've just been ticking off Society's Big Checklist:
  • College, check
  • Love and marriage, check check
  • House, check
  • Money (working on it)
I don't have any answers. I'm pretty sure I don't even have all the questions. I am seeking, fumbling and dabbling toward something, like meaning. Failing that, Death. But isn't this how a mid-crisis begins? Or am I merely jumping on Bandwagon #6? Or is it really as the wise and mocking Huey Lewis said, "This is it."

I do know this much. I'm doing a terrible job of this mid-life crisis. Here's some things I need to stop doing:
  1. Think too much about it.
  2. Read Dostoevsky.
  3. Blog about it.
  4. Listen to Huey Lewis.

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