|A day at the office...|
Yesterday I found myself crawling through an underground tunnel dug out of the sandy clay soil beside the Saigon River in a jungle that was once devastated by US B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War (run-on sentence). It was a surreal moment, not to mention claustrophobic and a little bit frightening (two months ago a westerner took a wrong turn in one of those tunnels and got lost for six hours...I wold have crapped myself). But the experience which culminated with my birthday made me think just how lucky an SOB I really am.
Back when I first graduated college, it was expected of me to enter into a family business that I knew in my gut wasn't for me. This isn't me knocking it. Most people would have jumped at the chance to run a big company and to enjoy all the perks that went with it, like a new car every year, a big house in the suburbs, the nice clothes, the wife's tittie job and tummy tuck, the big TVs, the pool, the backyard cookouts, the vacations in the Bahamas, the trips to Florida...The malls!!!
I saw it as a trap and a slow death. But hey, I've had those things a couple of times in my life and during each instance, I either gave it up or somehow blew it. Correction...I didn't blow it so much as it was like fitting a square peg into the round hole (cliche).
So now I live a simple but somehow (it's) complicated life of writing, playing, traveling, and challenging my body and mind and improving myself even with the creeping up of age and all the little 50K mile check-up stuff that goes along with it (run-on sentence). The parts break down but the spirit is never weak (other than a morning after too much Jamie). You get to be a certain age and the stuff that used to disappoint, sadden, cause anxiety, or just plain piss you off, now just reduces you to shaking your head slowly and whispering, "Whatever..."
Some people will never find happiness before they breathe their last (if they didn't live life to the fullest, it's on them). But although my life is far from perfect, I know that I am one of the lucky ones, precisely because I chose the very path that everyone said I would fail at miserably. And I have, at times, failed miserably, but I've also won a few rounds, thank you very much. Won big. It's just a matter of jabbing. It's inevitable you'll land a few big punches.
So, it's my birthday (again), and after two weeks in South East Asia, I'm tired, I stink, I have to be up at 4:30 am to hop a puddle jump flight to another town in Central Vietnam (maybe the airport will have a Starbucks). I'm working on a couple of new books while I'm here and researching for another. Freespiritedness....it's always scared the hell out of my buddy's wives, which is why I don't enjoy quite the crew I once did. The husbands do what's expected of them or else face the wrath. But my way is exactly how I've always wanted to live my life and it shall remain as such until the end.
IE...Had I done what was expected of me, I would have spent my birthday inside an office, passing around pieces of stale cake to employees who could care less (check out Office Space). I would have been miserable, wondering why I allowed my life to slip away. Instead, I spent the Bday on a jungle island in the middle of the Mekong Delta. My guides surprised me with a cake which we devoured after eating a whole fish, head and all, washed down with Saigon beer. Could life get any better?
It's been a rough, but wonderful year. Unexpected blows to the gut which weren't deserved but, well, whatever... (and what goes around...again, cliche). I'm truly looking forward to a new year and all the adventures and sweet exhaustion it will bring. Listen, the grass is never greener on the other side of the street (verging on cliche, but I'm making a point here). It's only grass. I've got my work, my health, my kids, and the rest of my life. It's for me and me alone to script. And hey, all my old pals and girlfriends, you're always welcome to come along on the adventure. Or not...
I guess you could say, I'm one of the lucky ones.