During my trip with the boys, I introduced them to a couple of old television programs from when I was their age, The A-Team and Airwolf. Maybe you don't remember them, or have no idea what it is I'm talking about (I included clips below for reference), but for me, as a little boy these shows were pure gold. So when I found them on DVD I couldn't resist the chance to indulge in a few hours of childhood nostalgia. I watched a few episode of each before turning them off. They were crap. Lousy acting, contrived plots, lame stunts, stock footage used over and over, I felt let down.
Where was the glee in imagining myself fabricating wacky impromptu weaponry to thwart the bad guys like The A-Team, or the thrill from dreaming about flying a high-tech helicopter on secret missions like they did in Airwolf? I distinctly remember sitting in front of the TV as a kid, mezmorized by every episode and wanting desperately to be these characters. I wanted to be adventurous. I wanted to be intriguing. In short, I wanted to be 30.
You might be thinking how randomly odd that sounds, but to me, being in your 30's was ideal for some reason. People in their 20's seemed too young and lacking in worldly experience, while being in your 40's was, well, too old. The years lived between these two spans seemed just right, and I couldn't wait till the day when I reached nirvana. By then, I figured, my life would be near perfect with me doing something exciting and at the top of my game.
Today I turned 37. My life is nothing like what I imagined, and sometimes it feels like the only game I am playing is survival. Even then, it's more a matter of keeping up than being on top of it. True, there are many things for me to be thankful for, my marriage, my kids, my health, and I truly am grateful for them. Yet, this is not the swashbuckling life of adventure I saw for myself. As a kid there were no dreams about growing up to be a sales manager or VP of purchasing. How do you play that at recess?
Now, with only three years left before being considered too old, I'm just a struggling writer waiting for the kids to get home so I can give them snacks and listen to how they learned about addition and the letter "Y." Yes, I realize, I'm throwing a pity party instead of a birthday party, but sometimes you just have to put these things out there because that's who we all are, human and frail. There's no sin in admitting to it; the transgression only comes from denying it.
I was glad to see the boys exhibiting that same excitement I used to have for those television shows, but there was also a bitter-sweetness that it brought on. I thought it ironic that in reaching my 30's, the years have stolen from me the very naiveness that once fueled my goal of getting to this point in life. At 37, I'm in a very strange place with little certainty of where I'm going and even less of an identity to hold onto. It's exactly the opposite of everything I though it would be. Maybe I just tuned into the wrong channel.