the eras of adulthoodedness, or something……

I had this brainflash today. Ok, so it actually wasn’t so much a “flash” as a minor twinge of a thought. Apologies aside, here’s what I was thinking…It occured to me that I’ve had distinct eras within my adult life. For instance, from the age of about 26 to somewhere around 30 was the era in which shit happened to me that was utterly and completely beyond my control. My father died of a heart attack, my long-term relationship disintegrated in a veil of tears because my significant other mentally imploded (And no, I’m not one of those tedious men who tells everyone that every ex-girlfriend they’ve ever had was a “psycho.” This woman genuinely and legitimately became mentally unstable to the point where it was impossible to continue the relationship.), my mentor at work retired and I ended up working for someone who didn’t like me, my sister’s marriage disintegrated (dragging me into the midst of more nastiness than I care to relate), my mother suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that nearly killed her, two of my friends died in horrific accidents, I contracted a case of bronchial pneumonia that put me out of commission for nearly a half a year, etc.

The end result of four or five years of continual shit like this going on in my life was pretty interesting. By the time I turned 31 I was pretty much invincible. Nothing, and I mean nothing, phased me. If I’d contracted Ebola I’d have just shrugged and said, “oh well, I’ll deal with it.” I’m not kidding. Nothing bothered me. I’d guess it’s something like the mental equivalent of spending years training to be a world class boxer. If someone throws a punch at you in a bar you just laugh and say, “dude, go bother someone else.”

In contrast, the last few years of my life, as I’ve started to examine them, would be classified as the era in which I did things to, ultimately, just make trouble for myself. The latest of these is pretty petty and insignificant. One night last week, as I was getting out of my car, I dropped the faceplate to my car stereo out of the back of my bag. I heard the thing clatter to the ground behind me, and I sort of knew what had happened, but I never so much as turned to look back and see what I’d dropped. Replacing the faceplate cost me over $100. In a word, this was stupid. And this is rather typical of the sorts of damage I’ve done to myself in the last few years. Nothing really major or traumatic, just a long string of mildly annoying/expensive mistakes that taken together leave me standing around feeling like a jerk most of the time.

Another example – A few months ago I joined a gym. I did it because I got sick of being out of shape, and because I got a small warning from my doctor about my cholesterol count (isn’t getting older great?). My primary mission in joining this particular gym was to do it specifically so I could go swimming. They have a really nice Olympic-sized pool that’s not too busy, and swimming 40 or 50 laps a few times a week has done wonders for how I’m feeling. Of course, being a man I couldn’t just swim. Oh no. It was inevitable that I’d gravitate towards the weight room. I’ve always felt sort of puny in terms of upper body strength. Ever since I was a kid I could run and jump and do just about anything with my legs I wanted to, but doing a pull-up or a push-up was pretty much out of the question. So, naturally I wander into the weight room (specifically the circuit training room) and end up playing with the machines. The first time I went in there I actually did a full circuit. That’s three sets on all ten machines. And since I’m stupid I put way too much weight on each machine. For two full weeks afterward I felt like I’d just been taken off of some medieval torture device.

So basically, from my mid-twenties to my early 30s I was invincible. Shit happened to me, and most of it was pretty dreadful. But I weathered the storm, dealt with whatever came my way pretty well and moved on. Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I’m just an idiot. I may still be invincible. It’s entirely possible. But there’s no way I’d know because my cognitive powers have turned to mush. I drop expensive things in the street and don’t pick them up. I walk into a weight room and give myself muscle strains over three-quarters of my body. It’s a good thing I don’t drink anymore. In this particular era of my life entering a bar could be life-threatening.

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