Half way through Life?
You know, wherever you are, in a meaningful sense, you’re at the Beginning!
Everything- even your memories- can only be experienced Now. So whether you spend now thinking of your day, your life, days ahead, the distant past, the far-flung future-it’s still Now, the one moment you have.
Now, a neurological study of the brain I read, years back, pointed out that even “now” is really just a shade in the past, a few microseconds lag in your response. But consciousness is consciousness, isn’t it?
As the sun sets, I notice dark’s just barely come a bit earlier than it did even two weeks ago. Something about the length of the sunlight’s always fascinated me. I think it’s Potential, you know? Of all the things you can go out and do before the sun sets. You could be just as excited about the length of the night: for sleeping, for going out to enjoy an event or possibly meet someone. When I was a kid, summer between school years was longer, and I loved the beginning of summer. Maybe we didn’t have the money or time to spend it traveling or visiting some relative with a great home or playing out a season pass to Six Flags or Disney World or to go skiing on the lake, but at minimum, it was my own time! I’d think of what I wished to think about, and sleep was malleable. In fact, this second week of July, more often than not, was vacation time, so as I noted in a post about my Dad, my family and, uhm, Iron Man, in June, we were usually in a different setting, hopefully doing some cool different things, some camp out and fresh air and family stuff. At minimum, I was wondering off playing pretend in some different setting.
But I was conscious of every change in the passage of the seasons. We lived in the country much of my childhood, and Paw Paw’s garden, as well as our own, also reflected the changes: corn and tomatoes are ready about now, beans need picking. I went outside to play pretend- spent more years than I think is normal just wandering about in the foliage imagining my own stories, my own shows (which sometimes I played out with my watch to keep up with programming time and commercials, developing my own sense of story pacing). I imagined meeting pretty girls and being part of a gang of friends and good times and games. I lived out the commercials and music videos. I comforted myself often with the thought there was still plenty of time, and did I realize it or not, I appreciated the time I had spent in my own treasured world.
Defending the territory of my own little world is a big, big reason I ever try to make a living with my imagination. I value entertaining people- I love my investment in a bit of private time living on to share with others. It’s amazing when someone responds, rejoinding with my musings, stories, songs. Like, wow, that went from my head to theirs and then made it back to mine! I like sending feedback to others when I can for the same purpose: sharing, the creation of yet another new things shared. I love insights. I love Imagination. I love Possibility. I love Now.
I’d considered what to say about a comic book- one I got in embarrassing trouble back in fifth grade for peeking at in Math class- one I was borrowing at the time. It had been printed a year or two before. I was already nostalgic, if you call it that, for the times as a child I would find comics on the magazine or spinner rack, and though I could have very few of them, I would pirate their images and my glancing understanding of their stories to play them out in my back yard. I was keeping a person inside alive, my embodied enthusiasm and energy. I never owned this comic, but it came from a time when a comic book was my very favorite item in the entire world, and right now, since Spider-Man’s just been in a movie where he nearly joined The Avengers, it’s even possible to write about it and share it with an eager audience- maybe even in a book, which builds that career I need to preserve that Self I carried inside against all temptation and logic otherwise.
I had my topic and a strong memory and several points of connection from which to write. But first, I had to nap.
Before I fell asleep, I had the thought that I may well be already halfway through this lifetime- and that’s if it’s a fairly long-lived one! Our mystic reading years ago interested me in imagining a lifetime of hundreds of years- and with the changes as yet unforeseen, who knows just how long a life will grow to be? But it’s just as I put it in the lyrics of our song “Dear Future” nearly ten years ago: “With nine hundred years left, to savor your treasures- there’s guarantees for nothing but today!” So here we are. Today. Now.
I thought how, fortunately, if I’m halfway through life, I’m only one-third of the way of spending it, in all hopefulness, with Angela Dawn. Greedy for money, not so much, but experience? It’s most of what I really have and most of what I really want. Potential- the cheery idea that we have still plenty of time, possibly even most of our time yet, to love each other and appreciate each other’s company-is an emotional comfort against worry. So is not thinking at all. When, instead of going out to swim or take up some other summer leisure, I was push-mowing the lawn at my Mom’s after work, I simply resigned myself to the present- to the task at hand. Sure enough, when Anj came out to relieve me of the mowing a few minutes, I had a seat on the porch I always mean to clean, and looked out onto the yard I always think of as a place I could go have much more recreational fun than I ever really do- freshly cut, open, Potential. The root of that word is “potens”- power- and Potential is powerful indeed. I relished the particular cool of the evenings of late, some twenty degrees or so below the high of today. The breeze has its own peculiar sensory conversation with mind, body and soul. I didn’t envy anyone else their friends, family and summer fun, for those moments. I treasured the time I’d spent bonding with that plot of land, chopping away with Anj on that lawn.
I await my partner, artist Joe Phillips, and his new outline preserving our ideas staked out thus far in pursuit of a more unique and light-hearted version of Hero Duty, the strip we’re creating for IDW Publishing. Naturally I hope it’s just the start, halfway through life, in turning a life of daydreams into a reality of continuing creation and sharing. That's to say nothing of friendships I've known, and ones I can't even foresee! Somehow it makes me feel like summer’s just begun. I look forward to beginning my new podcast series and eventually, a video series for YouTube, starting with a conversation with a real, honest-to-Gosh comics creator and friend, Dave Kraft, who entertained me many, many times as a child even when I didn’t realize he was yet again the uncredited writer of my coloring book or Pez comic, and of course when I knew it was him, too, writing my back issue of The Defenders or The Savage She-Hulk. I look forward to recording songs I’m playing with our friend Steve McMahon, and his wife Claudia, who shared her recognition of that conversation the breeze brings to our feelings while she listened to me clumsily tinker out the chords to “Why Can’t We Sail Away?”- where the sea breeze “blows your name.”
It feels like I shouldn’t give up- and what, wait to die? Just like that urge that kept me getting back up to mow a lawn whose completion seemed closer to possibility, it feels like if I just keep at it, the books and songs and comics career forge profits of all sorts- become cartoons and TV shows and even movies! There may yet be a family. More friends- I mean, these I have came from their lives to mine, and I didn’t even know these people existed years ago, when my friends were my family. I still have the enthusiastic support of Bali, the biggest fan we ever had and the person who made martial arts and comics fun and interactive. We may even see each other again. I’ve had to let go of cherished people and move on from other times, and yet, every day, when I set aside worry and exhaustion, ideas await. No amount of possibilities that fell apart ever terminated hope...joy...Potential. Whatever your age, I wish to evoke that in you, in anything I do.
To wonder too often how long one has to live is truly to think too much on a thing yet undiscovered. Its single value is to enhance the present so that we use the best of our past. To make the best of our future.