In the middle of the Flaming Lips documentary, The Fearless Freaks, the lead singer of the band, Wayne Coyne, takes the camera crew into a Thai restaurant in Oklahoma City that was once a Long John Silvers. Back when the band was starting out, Wayne earned money to support himself between music tours by working as a fry cook at that restaurant. One night, robbers held up the Long John Silver’s at gunpoint (Wayne playfully reenacts the robbery using the 10 year old kids of the current restaurant owner).
Wayne was forced to lie on the ground with a gun pointed at the back of his head. Coyne thought, “…[so] this is really how you die… one minute you’re just cooking up someone’s order of French fries and the next minute you’re laying on the floor and they blow your brains out. There’s no music, there’s no significance… it’s just random”.
Like taxes, death is the only other certainty but I don’t know where I’ll be… or with whom… when I go. But that’s tomorrow’s problem. Right now is the only thing I know.
And right now, I turn 30 on August 8th. Yes, three fucking decades. Consider this entry as my 30th anniversary issue.
For me, 30 years is a lifetime, so as I approach the arbitrary date, I’m left with the self-reflective question: How do I quantify a lifetime?
In other words, if I were to exit this world tomorrow, randomly, on the floor of a Long John Silver’s… how would I measure my 30 years?
For most of humanity’s existence on this earth, reaching the age of 30 was a miracle in itself. So I guess if I take that point of view… I’m a walking fucking miracle. Hmm, feels a bit over the top considering there are billions of people on earth at this moment.
Another approach would be the 90’s musical Rent’s methodology of measuring my years in “Seasons of Love”. How clever. If that were the case my life would be several Russians winters on the planet Pluto. Thanks Rent.
Then there’s Jay-Z who says “30 is the new 20”… So what the fuck does that mean? No one knows Jay-Z… nobody…
Well how about measuring a lifetime in terms of progress, like a map? Where am I now compared to where I wanted to be?
Well, that’s not fair! Just like the human body morphs, my goals and destinations changed as I grew up. My perspective changed and so did the “plan”. Otherwise I’d be on Mars or the Moon right now or time traveling back to 1955 to save my parents… wait a minute…
But what if I quantify my 30 years in terms of progress towards immortality? Immortality like the type sought after by great kings and queens of history?
Shit. Haven’t invaded any countries. Haven’t written a book. Haven’t started a company or shattered the course of the history with my presence. I can see Alexander the Great right now dismissively shaking his head at me. Yeah, fuck off Alexander.
But wait George Eliot has something to say… Yes Mrs. “Eliot” (Evans)?
In Middlemarch it says, “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs”.
Ah! Immortality through a “hidden life”? Essentially cloning yourself by getting married, raising children and living a normal life well? You succeed by giving the next generation as best of a chance as possible… basically meaning, you get a good job so you can put your kids in a great school, live in a safe neighborhood, etc!
Yes! So, how do my 30 years rate towards achieving a decent “normal” life!?
Negative Ghostrider. That’s a negative.
Nietzsche would be proud.
I haven’t done shit. 30 years… and nothing.
Hmm… Cat Stevens is raising his hand. What do you want, Mr. Stevens?
In Father and Son he says, “It’s not time to make a change, just sit down, take it slowly, you’re still young, that’s your fault, there’s so much you have to go through”.
Okay Mr. Stevens or Mr. Yusuf Islam or whoever the hell you are now. I’ll sit down and accept my nothingness. Fine. Right here on this tree stump… just like the old man at the end of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”. Yes yes, I’m calm now.
Sitting by myself…
But wait… The Old Man in The Giving Tree wasn’t by himself! He had the tree: A “giving tree”-- a friend that was always there for him when he needed things. A tree that offered company in the end… Wait… You mean… what about Family and Friends, Mrs. Tree?
Ah! How do I measure my 30 years in terms of family and friends?
I’m fucking rich, bitches.
I have wonderful, interesting, talented, intelligent and kind friends, not to mention a supportive and caring family. As Notorious B.I.G. would say, “I’m filthy fuckin rich”.
One of the consequences of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is that time varies depending on your perspective. I think the same applies to human life. I’m sure an 80 year-old would tell me I’m young and I’ve got a lifetime ahead of me so shut up and stop whining. Or an alternate version of me in the “other world’s theory” in quantum mechanics might literally quantify 30 years completely differently.
So what does that mean? It means it all depends on perspective. And what’s my perspective?
I’m alive. I’m healthy. And according to Einstein and old folks... I’m still relatively young. And I’m rich in intangibles... Okay, these 30 years don’t feel so bad now...
So where do I go from here?
Well… WHO THE FUCK KNOWS.
But happy 30th John… and stay away from Long John Silver’s.
I sound weird, I want to someday be content, just to feel comfortable like everyone else. I want-
A normal life.
Yeah a normal life.
That’s all I want, just that.
No fame and fortune, excitement at every turn?
No I’ve had enough excitement, thank you. I’ll take boring.
It’s weird huh?