"Hear 'em singing happy birthday. Better think about that wish I make. This year gone by ain't been a piece of cake. " - Jimmy Buffett; "Trip Around the Sun."
Remember when you were a kid, and 40 seem so old? It's suddenly doesn't anymore. Because when I woke up this morning I was. although to be honest, 40 doesn't bother me. I hated turning 30. I kicked and I screamed to lose my 20s. But as I look back, my 20s were a lot of fun, but a complete waste of a decade. My 30s were very productive in a number of ways. I had three kids. Wrote two books. One actually sold a few copies. And finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up, or at least, if.
So now I'm 40. I don't feel any different. I don't really feel older, and sadly not much wiser. But I'm cool with 40. Even in my 20s I had a sneaking suspicion that I would be a late bloomer. So I've always welcome the idea of 40. And now that I'm there, I still feel the same way. mind you I've only been here for a few hours, but that's far 48 so bad. And I intend for it to be not only productive, but fruitful. In fact, universe, if you're listening I demand it.
But I couldn't turn 40 without acknowledging one of my favorite songs. It's a tune I've loved you since I was a teenager, so very far from the age within the title. Somehow I still connected with it. Particularly the line, "yes I am a pirate, 200 years too late." It sounds pretentious, I know, but part of me has felt that way even since I was a kid. As if I somehow was born too late, and missed some era where I might've thrived. Yes I just read that and know how it sounds. But it's true. I guess every little boy fantasize that one time or another of being a pirate. Of course I'm talking about the romanticized, gentlemen pirates of lore. The ones we see in Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World. Which to be honest is probably where it comes from for me. That was the first Disney ride I ever went on. My imagination was immediately ensnared, and they've never let go. I believe those are the same kind of pirates that Mr. Buffett sings about as well. Fun-loving, rum swilling rascals who are bad, but not too bad. Who live only for the freedom that I ship at sea gives, answering to no one but a democratic captain and Poseidon. Whoops, sorry Disney fans. I meant King Triton.
I believe that's why we become writers. Writer or rockstar is about as close as you can come to being a pirate these days. And rock stars are the only ones who can dress the part and get away with it. I'm not a half bad singer, but I'm also not built like Mick Jagger. So pirate with a pen it is.
Of course now we all know the reality of piracy. There was very little gentleman about any of them they were horrible throat slitting monsters, much more like the Pirates that exist today, as we see in movies like Captain Phillips. Nothing romantic. Nothing anyone would write a song about. Well, maybe a band like Slayer. Certainly not a bleach blonde beach bum famous for crooning about margaritas.
Still, "A Pirate Looks at Forty" is one of my top five favorite songs of all time. It always moves me. I always connect with it. As I got older and joined the workforce, a new line stood out the me. "My occupational hazard being my occupation's just not around. "
Pretty much the first moment I ever sat inside a cubicle I realized my soul was never meant to sit inside a cubicle. But it took me half my 20s and almost all my 30s to break out of the box. I'm still in a box of sorts, but at least it has windows and a door and it's much bigger. But yes even now I stare out the window every day and picture the horizon line. Distant shores I still long visit, and buried treasures to find. To be honest with you all, I had hoped at one time Ears of Steel might be my ship. My freedom.
We didn't quite get there, but it was a lovely cruise. I could just sit with my head in my hands feeling stranded on a sandbar. But what a waste of my 40s that would be. As another song by Mr. Buffett says "I've got boats to build."
No pirate worth his salt ever gave up just because the first boat he commandeered sank or ran aground. Or the first chest he dug up wasn't overflowing with gold doubloons as he might've dreamt. He simply sails on looking for the next vessel to plunder, remembering all the while to enjoy the journey, drink the rum, spend a few days in Tortuga, and know when it's time to pull out, so-to speak! I meant from port, dirties!
So on this birthday I say thank you to all my loyal crew who hung in there with me since this journey began. The next adventure will be a little different, but I believe it will still be fun. my Facebook feed is overflowing with birthday wishes, and I'm deeply touched. And of course thank you to Jimmy Buffet, for being the architect of much of my own songline, and always showing me that there's so much more fun & adventure to be had on the other side of 40!
On we sail . . .