Monday, August 9, 2010

The Wonder

Tomorrow, I will be 40 years old.

At the moment, I am sitting in a Chinese restaurant, by myself, on my last day of my 30s. I ordered from the "Family Value Menu", even though I'm ordering for one (hell, it's a good bargain). I'm not saying this to be depressing; honestly, I'm not depressed. If I was depressed, I'd be eating Arby's at home. The only thing that I am disappointed about is that I just didn't go all out and go to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Now, that's good eating.

Actually, I feel worse for the guy sitting across the restaurant. He's of Spanish descent, I'm guessing, and he's getting a complete hard-sell from this woman regarding investing in a full-service gym. The woman reminds me a lot of someone I worked with at my last job whom I called a bitch to her face. The guy has a bit of a hangdog expression and he's wearing - I kid you not - a sweatshirt with "FBI - Female Body Inspector" on it. The poor sap has no chance.

So, I'm not depressed. The question that I keep asking myself, though, is why am I not depressed? I'm on the cusp of 40; I'm single, and have been for a while; I was let go from my job at a studio that I was at for almost ten years; and, to be honest, there are no immediate prospects on either front. Yet I'm okay. I'm definitely fitter than when I left my job. No longer having asinine marketing executives nipping at my heels and talking behind my back has made me more at peace. Not having a girlfriend has not been ideal, but I have plenty of friends, and meeting the right girl is just a matter of when, not if, to me - I'm a major league hitter driving around a bunch of line drives directly into fielders' gloves; eventually, some of those swats are going to drop for base hits (yeah, self-confidence isn't my issue, I gather).

So, as I said, I'm not depressed. Great. But does it mean that I'm happy? Well, let's not go too far. I am aware of my situation. The truth is, as happens to many men, you realize that something is missing in your life. For me, it's a sense of wonder, and I really, really want it back.

Remember when you were a kid and you could look at something and think it was the most amazing thing in the world? Usually, it wasn't, but that didn't matter. To you, it was. Every time I see my godson get to a new level on a game of Nintendo Wii, you'd think he just saw the entrance to Valhalla. Six year-old kids own the patent on wonder. If you could bottle up the energy from kids seeing something great for the first time, you wouldn't need British Petroleum.

Unfortunately, for me, that feeling is rare. Soon-to-be-40-years of cynicism makes it quite hard to turn that emotion back on. I've come close recently - in Paris, standing in the Pompidou Museum at a wall of Picassos was quite amazing. But I used to get it a lot more, with music, with art, with...well, everything. So, I need to jump-start that feeling again.

It is time to start seeing the world as new again. Immerse myself. By the time I'm writing again at 49 and 364/365 years, I hope to have seen, heard and experienced hundreds and thousands of new and exciting things. What are those things? Still have to figure them out. Any suggestions? Help me get moving. To loosely quote a comic bit in a Queens of the Stone Age song, "I need a saga." Who wants to join me?