An Exercise in Fearing

Okay, Jim. So be it.

You have to believe you’re alright. That you’re supposed to be here now. Now imagine – you’re on a plane. You don’t remember where you left from or where you’re going, only that you used to have a life that was very different than this. A flight attendant approaches you, asks if you’d like a drink. “No,” you say, but he just keeps on standing there, waiting for you to say something different, waiting like he’s disappointed in you for not choosing a soda, or a beer. For living a little. For being in the moment. But this—what you think the flight attendant thinks—is your fear. This is what you fear people think about you, but you have no proof. You shake your head at the flight attendant, “no,” you say, again, and he smirks a little then walks away.

Why do I tell you this? Why not tell you this?

So as you sit in the seat on this plane heading to an unknown place, you wish, for a moment, for the return of your old life. I want my life back, you say to yourself. But then you try to recall what it was like in said “life” and realize that it wasn’t much of a “life” at all but more like an game of middle school dodgeball you were trying to avoid by faking a bad knee or “forgetting” your gym pants. Suddenly you’re thirsty. You didn’t have any more of a life then than you do now, but you don’t realize this. Not yet. How could you? You’re old. You’re fifty-two. The flight attendant is nowhere to be seen, and your mouth is dry. Fifty-two, Jim. Did you think anyone could stay bitter for so long? Last year, when I was twenty-four, I made a promise to myself that I’d never again put my life on hold. But this year, now that I’m twenty-five, I realize that I have no idea what that even means. This has nothing to do with you though.

You’ve made no mistakes. You were only dreaming when you said you wanted out. I don’t blame you. I don’t think I do at least. It’s just a shame how it seems we develop blind spots to the good things in life the older we get. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?