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I’m going to have to tread carefully here, as this can be delicate ground to cover and could easily be misconstrued. So I’d like to say at the forefront that nowhere in the following should it be inferred that I’m unhappy with my life, or with the choices that I’ve made.
My life is not difficult. At all. I’m very much in love with my wife. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to love being a father. None of these points are even remotely in question.
Everyone clear on that? Good. Then let’s continue.
It occurred to me the other day how different the life I’m living is versus the person that I feel like I am. By this, I mean that I left a neighborhood I loved for a spacious house in the safe yet sterile suburbs. I sold my Jeep for a boring but child-friendly SUV, inside which I commute to an office job every day. I’ve gone on the finger for what I used to call “life anchors” like furniture and appliances and…stuff. And, most recently, I’ve sold off the one thing that I’ve spent my whole life pursuing, in the name of fiscal responsibility. I actually expend energy fretting about my health, my taxes, my yard, etc, etc.
I realize that these are all “grown-up” things, and I do understand their necessity. After all, it would be pretty pathetic if, at my age, I was still living the life I had 20 years ago. (Actually it wouldn’t because I’d be dead by now…but that’s a story for another time.)
The problem is, I don’t feel like the guy who leads this life.
Yet somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, I became him. And I don’t know how.
As such I suffer from a bit of cognitive dissonance at times. Mostly because I’ve never liked the people who live like this. I still don’t, despite now being one of them. And so, following that train of thought to its next logical stop, what would that say about how I feel about myself? Actually that one’s easy…
I am still fucking awesome.
The thing is, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time figuring out how to reconcile these new things into the person that I’ve always been. As such, all these varied parts of my life feel like they’re just rattling around in the box of me, rather than acting as parts of a coherent whole.
It’s like I’m…jumbled.
But I’m positive that, with a little time spent in contemplation and careful placement, all of these pieces do fit together. And I can make the guy I never wanted to be, wear the life of the man that I’ve always seen myself as. (And if I can pull that ensemble off with a bit of my trademark sprezzatura, then all the better.)
Now, having said all this, it’s likely that this existential dilemma stems from the radical redefinition of self that’s happening in my brain right now. After all, I’m gaining the “Daddy” moniker, and all that comes packaged with that title, here in about 6 weeks. (It could also be coupled with a slight tincture of mid-life crisis, but I’d rather not think about that possibility right now.)
“Husband.” “Father.” “CIO.” “Suburbanite.” “40-something.”
Sometimes, with all the responsibilities these epithets confer, it’s hard to remember that I’m more than the sum of some titles. Part of me is still that surly, esoteric, anti-establishment, slightly wild and fiercely independent guy that I recognize when I think about who I am.
I’m sure that guy is still in there, glowering at me from a corner. The guy that set out into the world (a few times), with nothing but a bag of clothes on his back and a cocky smile. The guy who danced with wild abandon, ambled his way across Europe, and laughed as rain poured into his convertible at 65 mph. A guy who’s dangled off mountain cliffs, sailed across hurricanes, hiked through deserts, leapt off a 35′ ramp dressed as a chupacabra, and basically led his effortlessly charmed life his way.
Among all the things that I’ve become, and have yet to become, I need to remember to save a little room for that guy.