In less than a month I will no longer be 50 years old. As we cross into my astrological sign, I can’t help but think about the first 50+ years of my life and reflect. I’ve been pensive lately. Am I where I wanted to be in my life?
I received a box of family photos in the mail today. My aunt and uncle, the keepers of the city side family heritage, came across a stack of photos from various decades and felt I should be the next keeper of these snapshots of memories. There’s quite a few that I don’t really remember, though I’m in the photos smiling. Happy times. A “Jetsons” themed t-shirt from 1992. A small red mustache dusted my lip. I’m smiling, standing in the back of the photo, taller than my mom but shorter than my dad. Looking like one with the coloring of the other. There’s no doubt where I came from.
When I was in my mid to late teens I had dreamed of living in a big city, though I didn’t know what big city it would be. My thoughts often gravitated toward London, because from what I had read in books and magazines and the like, London was much more open to ‘different’ folks like me. Plus, I really loved British pop music. In the late 80s and 1990 I spent a few years living in Boston and by 1992 had moved back to Central New York state. In 1992 I thought I had screwed up my opportunity to live in the big city and had kind of resigned myself to living in Central New York. I was happy but I didn’t feel like I was thriving. I was finding my way again.
And here I am 27 years later living in the third largest city in the United States. And Chicago has been very kind to me.
How we evolve.
As I looked at myself in this photo, with the cheesy mustache dusting my lip and the Jetsons dancing on my shirt, I couldn’t help but remember that while I felt a little resigned, I still felt quite happy. It would be five or so years before I got my first cell phone, we were nearly 10 years from the events of 9/11, and the subsequent after math.
People just seemed happier back then. Is it a sign of my age that I look back at the early 90s and think, “ah, the good old days”? I’m not so naive as to think that time was “the good old days”, as I was still attending too many funerals of friends dying of AIDS and honestly I would never dream of holding hands in public with anyone that I was dating at the time. Yet, there I was, smiling and looking genuinely happy with my dad, my mom, and my sister, who looked genuinely happy as well.
Happiness is such a good feeling.
I glance through the news and watch people on the street and read conversations online: Turmoil. Distraction. Addiction. Complication.
At first I thought, I need to find the happiness. But then I thought better of that, I need to bring the happiness. Pick up the mantle. Take the lead. Amass the troops. Be a positive, unstoppable force.
With less than a month of age 50 left in this life, I need to heed my own advice: don’t sweat the small stuff. Herd our evolution in the direction of a better world.