Love in the Time of Cholera
~Gabriel García Márquez
Today is my 50th birthday.
Or at least by the time I upload this it will be.
I’ve wanted to do a vlog for a while now and when I started this blog one of the things I wanted to do was tell my story. My perspective on events. Get my voice out there. But I’ve always held back a bit. Who was I that I should put my voice out there, and why should anyone care? I also didn’t think that I had a very interesting story to tell or at least I didn’t think I could come up with an interesting story.
This is what I was thinking when I sat down to start writing this blog. As I was contemplating what sort of story I had to tell and whether it would be interesting to anyone else, several thoughts started to race through my mind.
A lot of things have changed in the fifty years I’ve been on this planet. These changes happened to everyone, yet the effects of these changes were different for everyone. A lot of different people have told a lot of interesting stories. These stories, the good ones, and the bad ones, all followed from those changes.
There’s an old saying usually attributed to the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” There have been a lot of very alike and very unhappy families. Especially in 2020. The changes we have seen, though, and the stories that follow don’t just come from this past year. They follow on from the stories and the changes that have followed us throughout our lives.
Over the last half century there have been a lot of changes. When I was born America was still embroiled in the Vietnam War. It was still on the gold standard and hadn’t had to go through the shock of Watergate and the potential impeachment of a president for the first time in over one hundred years. The United Kingdom hadn’t even joined the European Union yet. There wasn’t even a European Union in existence for them to join, let alone break away from. America and the Soviet Union kept the world and the grip of Mutually Assured Destruction and the Cold War seemed as if it would be the status quo.
Cable television was years away and if you wanted to watch a television show you needed to be sitting in front of the television when it aired. That or wait for it to air in a rerun over the summer. Videotaping a show let alone trying to stream one was just a dream. The internet itself still was twenty years away from public use. ARPANET, the predecessor of today’s network, was likewise ten years in the future. There was no world wide web or YouTube. Casey Neistat, Peter McKinnon, and PewDePie wouldn’t even be dreamed about for years. Libraries were the best places to get information and you better understand the Dewey Decimal System and the card catalog if you needed to find something. Googling something on your phone – hell – Goggling something at all wasn’t even something dreamed about in the best sci-fi shows.
Besides the worldwide changes that have remade the landscape – in some senses literally – over the past fifty years, I’ve experienced my share of life changing changes as well.
When I graduated primary school, I wanted to be a lawyer. The end of High School saw me pursuing a career in theater. First as an actor, then as a playwright, technician, and producer. A marriage made me reassess and saw me first go into finance. 9/11 was a watershed moment for all of us and I have done my part by joining the military and going to war.
I’ve become a father and a mentor. My child has gone from a helpless little bundle in my arms to a strong independent person taking their own first steps in a wider world. I’ve managed and led people. Going from the one looking for guidance to the one suggesting a different way to perceive the circumstances in front of you. I discovered the meaning of my father’s words. “The higher up you go the more bosses you have.” I know now I need to give my best to these people because they rely on my words and deserve the best I can provide.
I’ve lived on three different continents and been to a dozen or so countries. Sunrise over the desert and the sunset over the pacific. The full moon over Paris and a crescent moon gracing the skyline of Barcelona. People have been both glorious and hateful, loving and vain, selfless and self-centered. Above all though they have been hopeful.
As I find, hopefully, the first half of my voyage over I wonder at what changes the second half will bring.
My country is – once again – at a point of crisis as what should be a peaceful handover of power illuminates the cracks we still haven’t fully addressed in our society. My present home moves on by itself into a separate future from the rest of the continent of which it is a part. The whole world holds its breath to see how it will cope, how it will come out the other side of a pandemic the like of which no one living today has ever experienced. Will we be stronger and more united or weaker and more fragmented? Or will we discover a third route that will lead to a future unlike any we have imagined?
My life is at another crossing point as a myriad of threads combine and fray in the wider world. My child is moving on. As my old partner moves on, this alters my life and I look eagerly forward to seeing it change. Through all the trials I have faced I have been fortunate enough to come out the other side. The trails have battered but not beaten me. Although tried, I’ve been fortunate to find wonderful people – especially one in particular – to help me. I hope I have been a help to others. I know I am fortunate to have what I do, and I remind myself – probably not as often as I should – of the portion I do have, and my responsibility to share it and provide it to others.