Man Out of Time
Living My Life as if it's Real
Where does the time go? I wonder where the time goes. Joni Mitchell sang those words on a fade out. The song was “Chinese Café,” about the mysteries and secrets of time past. And it is going on as a loop with me. On 1/1/23, I will, dear reader, turn 50. Now this shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Many have done it before and many will after, but I cannot deny the overwhelming feeling of being tapped on the shoulder. I was recently in a cold, dead sleep, and someone interrupted my dream and told me, “You know you’re turning 50 soon, right?”
It was a drag to wake up like this, but that guy—it was a guy—was trying to tell me something. Work now for the night will come when no man can work. Am I quoting Jesus? Jesus! But he had a point. There was no electricity in Bronze Age Judea. Jesus never made it to 50, unless you believe that he made it much further, and I get to work with the lights on. But the point wasn’t just about sundown. There will be a time when the sun does not come back up, at least not for me. I am thinking of it because it means closing time is coming.
And I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
Which you can't reveal to the Ears of Youth
Except to say it isn't worth a dime
Leonard Cohen wrote that at 60—just a crazy kid with a dream. I have been told that turning 50 isn’t such a big deal, because it will be easy to pretend I’m in my 40s. It may look easy, but it won’t feel easy. There will still that guy interrupting my dream reminding me of my actuarial odds.
At 50, I can be a Wilbury. I can be Walter White. I can become Heisenberg and discover just how much desperation can bring out in me. There will be time to murder and create.
Will I give up childish things? Will I stop wasting my time? Or will I need to waste my time sometimes. Especially since one discovers when one is not trying. I had this idea of acquiring wisdom on my way to the exit sign, but what does that mean? Here’s what it meant to Franz Kafka: “All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already.”
Now that could be a way of saying, “What’s the point?” Or it could mean, that there are endless variations. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, spake Didion. When I wake myself up to be reminded of my impending birthday—HURRY UP, PLEASE IT’S TIME—there is an inner superego asking me, “How does this look?”