An hour and a half ago (as of the exact moment I am writing this sentence—an hour and 27 minutes, to be somewhat precise), I turned 39 years of age. I entered my 40th year on this plane of existence, in this life.
I had planned a pondering on [tag]Charles Darwin[/tag], since my favorite historical happening that shares my birthday is Darwin’s embarkation upon his five-year journey aboard HMS Beagle, a trip which begetted the world “[tag]The Origin of Species[/tag]” and controversy that persists to this day—despite an overwhelming mountain of observable, quantifiable evidence to support the idea of evolution. But William Gibson’s blog pointed me to someone who already offered some insightful commentary on Darwin and the modern world, so I’ll just let that slide. What the hell; it’s my [tag]birthday[/tag], and what better excuse to slack? Not that I need an excuse to do that …
Besides, I think at this age self-reflection is only natural on one’s b-day, particularly when it falls at this time of year, and one has been spending the holidays with family, both old and young. So Darwin will keep for another time.
As usual on birthdays, I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday—it’s really just an arbitrary designation after all. I wasn’t born self aware, at least not to the point that I retained any memories (not ones I can readily access, anyway). So really, from my perspective, my life, as it were, began at some hazy indistinct point a couple of years later, where recollection of my first memories begins. Of course, from a purely biological vantage point–and an anti-abortion perspective, but we’re not going to get into that debate just now—my life began nearly ten months earlier, sometime in March of 1968, soon after my conception when the cells of my fetus began dividing and replicating themselves.
“… the cells of my fetus … ” Why does that make laugh out loud? I guess it’s a phrase one doesn’t often have occasion to use very often. “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the cells of my fetus.” But I digress.
Yes, it was nearly 10 months; I was three weeks (thereabouts) late when I was born. I would have been born later, but my mother’s obstetrician was going out town after the holidays, and my mother, tired of being pregnant—who can blame her?–and not wanting to have to deal with a strange doctor, requested him to finally induce labor, to get my lazy ass the hell out of her womb. And here I am.
An aside (off-topic, in modern Internet parlance): in all seriousness, Mom, thanks for bringing me into this world. This is the first Christmas since your death where your absence hasn’t weighed heavily at times. But you are still never far from my thoughts, and in some ways, as I imagined I always would, I still grieve.
Now back to our regularly scheduled topic, already in progress:
And birthdays were always pretty casual affairs in my family–mine especially, as it fell between Xmas and New Years. Everyone forgot my 18th birthday, in fact, including me. This used to bother me when I was a kid, of course, but has worked to my advantage as an adult; no one makes an unwanted fuss, and I like flying under the radar of most people, as it were.
But like most people around this age, I suppose I am more acutely aware of the passage of time, more so than I have been in past years. After all, I’ll never see the median point of the average [tag]lifespan[/tag] of an American male again; it is already more than a year behind me. And I have changed with the times. In years past I probably would have embarked on a grand drunk to mark this annual milestone. These days fear of alcoholic-induced insomnia and a hangover will preclude the consumption of mass quantities this day—damn, I swear just three beers and I have trouble sleeping and I wake up with a headache.
It’s hell to get old.
But in other ways I haven’t changed, and with the backdrop of the holiday and family visits, the ways in which I haven’t changed with the passing of years are highlighted in relief. Namely, I still have no desire for [tag]marriage[/tag] or progeny. I like [tag]kids[/tag], love women, love sex, but have no desire to engage in [tag]matrimony[/tag], holy or otherwise, or pass along my genetic material. Everyone has always told me—some might say warned me—that at some indeterminate point in the future I would feel differently. That as I got older, my mind would change with regard to [tag]children and marriage[/tag]. But it hasn’t. In fact, the opposite is true. As my father observed over the Xmas holiday, I remain, despite my years and his earlier predictions, “footloose and fancy free.”
Key word: free.
I’m not knocking anyone else’s choices, though—more power to those that obey the biological and cultural imperatives. Those life paths are just not for me. And my own choices aren’t the result of some sort of psychological childhood trauma. My parents were married nearly 50 years when my mother died, and it was, by all accounts—and my own observation, naturally–a stable, happy, loving and fulfilling one—so it wasn’t like I wasn’t provided with a good example in my formative years.
I could offer up all sorts of valid, rational arguments—there are too many people on the planet, too many children need adoption, etc. But in the end it comes down to this: it’s just not for me. I have no problem with [tag]monogamy[/tag], I just don’t believe I’m cut out for it in the long run—and I suspect many people are not, many more than are willing to admit it, to themselves or anyone else (much less their spouses—d’oh!). Besides, there is just too much fun to have and too much of the world to see—too much self-enrichment to engage in–to consider sacrificing the next 20 to 30 years of [tag]personal growth[/tag] and [tag]fulfillment[/tag] to stop and raise a family and commit to one spouse in the process.
Furthermore, the older I get, as I consequently become more sensitive to the passage of time, I’m also acutely aware that no matter how long I live, I’ll never read all those books I want to read. I’ll never see all of the world that I want to see. I’ll never get to study and experience all of the things I would like to before I die. I’ll never get to make mad passionate monkey love to all the women I would like—I’ve already fallen far behind on that goal, heh. As a result, the idea of settling down, getting married and starting a family becomes less and less of an option. Indeed, the very idea fills me with dread.
Besides, I’m a light sleeper—I don’t even like sleeping with people I’m sleeping with, so to speak (unfortunately it seems to go with the territory). I’m a happily selfish bastard, when it comes down to it.
But it’s more than just selfishness. Given the above feelings, I don’t think I have any business getting married and having children, even if part of me still wanted too. I used to think that if I fell in love with someone and having a family was important to her, that I’d be okay with it. After all, I do like kids—my niece and nephews are the best, and I always have fun when I hang out with them. They rule. Heck, over the holidays I even drove with my 15-year-old nephew, who just got his temps, because all of the other adults around were too nervous–those pussies. Kidding! They’re just minor wusses. Anyway, I couldn’t help but remember what that was like, being 15 and wanting to drive, and having to pester reluctant adults to indulge me—and how much it sucked–so rather than be a hypocrite, I happily volunteered.
But now I’m pretty sure I was bullshitting myself with the idea that it would be okay if I met someone who wanted a family. I’d eventually be miserable, she would be miserable, and the kids would be miserable—not to mention screwed up in the head for years, after we all ended up in the news, I imagine. I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone—the kids or their mother. I may be self-centered, but I’m not a dick; I follow the Buddha’s Golden Rule.
I think I’m much more suited to the weird-but-cool-guy uncle role. The siblings have the [tag]biological imperative[/tag] taken care of; the family name will go on, as will my forbears’ [tag]genes[/tag]; no need for my gametes to step up. So I remain footloose and fancy free as I enter my fortieth year.
Why, then the world’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
Consider yourselves warned.