Seven months ago, I went through a life altering situation. The person I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with moved out. At 42 (and weeks away from being 43-years old), I was alone.
It was rather shocking, though at first, it was liberating. The tension in the household during the preceding few years had been thick. Living alone allowed me to be myself unabashedly.
A month or two after after the break-up, a friend expressed surprise that I could be so positive about life. Tonight, my friend reiterated her disbelief and added that she thought there had to be a darkness looming in the distance (or beyond public view).
I'm an open book, so I told her the truth: I'm wicked lonely but otherwise very happy in my life. Honest.
I don't think she believed me, which made me doubt myself. So I spent the long bike ride home contemplating my happiness.
Here is my rationale for why I'm a happy dude (and you should be too):
1. LIFE IS TOO FUCKING SHORT TO BE MISERABLE.
No duh. But sometimes it takes a knock on the head to appreciate that.
I lost a dear friend in October 2001 and that changed my life. I renounced ambition and decided to appreciate every single day. I decided I didn't need money, awards, a job title or whatever. I just wanted to enjoy everything around me. Every day.
In January 2012, my dog was diagnosed with a heart condition. The veterinarian said Mookie had maybe six months to live. My grandmother, who was always the moral compass of my life, started going to the hospital a lot that same month. She eventually passed away on October 28 that year.
The fear of losing my dog and the reality of losing my grandmother really, really hit me. I had also turned 40 by then, an age I didn't think I would live to see (reckless youth, blah, blah, blah).
All of the sudden, every single moment of my life felt like bonus overtime.
2. Dude, life is pretty great.
My life is ridiculous. I have no regular sleep pattern, or really any patterns in my life. Every day is different and marvelous.
I've had so many funny moments randomly happen to me ... as we all probably do. I bet most people let those spontaneous episodes pass by (like I did, and probably still do quite frequently). I've been trying to share the stupid little moments with people (virtually and otherwise). They are magic in a bottle.
I run a music magazine. I experience so much talent for free (and sometimes I get a stage view of life, as in the photo at the top of this post). I teach 200 students at once - making jokes, cursing and sometimes even educating along the way. I fucking take my dog to school. That's a great deal. And I'm on a baseball team. Baseball! Not softball. I mean, damn! I love playing baseball.
3. Sometimes, change is good.
Don't get me wrong. I am beyond bitter about the breakup. I harbor some really, really deep, dark emotions. I am wicked angry. I don't understand what happened and likely never will. I've had some awful nightmares over the past few months.
I've spent the past seven months thinking about when/where things went wrong. Man, that is a chain of dominoes you don't want to nudge. All of the sudden, the little fissures from when we first started dating 17 years ago seem like the beginnings of the massive gully we existed in at the end. The more I dug into the past, the more I felt like an idiot for not seeing the end coming, and not stemming it.
But freaking out over that stuff is pointless. Whatever happened can't be reversed. It's over.
I accept it. It's better that we moved on rather than continue to live in pain.
I have a job and a house and good friends, whom I very much enjoy. I'm lucky as all hell. Someday, I hope to not be lonely but finding that life partner is not easy. It takes time. And if it doesn't happen, well, I'll figure something out.
Until then, I'll be over here smiling, taking it all in.