February 1, 2022
I was just thinking – this is probably the happiest I’ve ever been. It is certainly the most comfortable I’ve ever been in my own skin. My mind is totally blown that I am 65 years old. How can this be? I still feel, mentally anyway, like a 15 year old. Lol. But when I look in the mirror, I just see me, the 65 completed revolutions around the sun doing what they do to a human. But it’s still me. I can’t imagine anyone different in that mirror. I can look me in the eye and say, “You’re doing good”. I’ve never spent the night in a hospital bed, never had cancer or a stroke or a heart attack. I have the same number of teeth as I had last birthday; the only thing I’ve lost in the past 365 days is 20 pounds of fat. And some more hair, but I’m over that. The long, gorgeous curly hair of my youth is but a fond memory. I tried dying my hair 15 years ago and it looked comically absurd. I have gray hair. I love it. It’s simply a symbol of lessons learned, memories made, life lived. I can still walk four miles without falling down, still have a libido, and I spend most of my days doing what I love.
Speaking of love, I’ve been so blessed. At 65 I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever had, two souls completely intertwined, peas in a pod, soul mates, partners, best friends, lovers. When Nickie and I were first dating (yes, you can find love at 58 years old), one of her best friends warned me that “Nickie is clingy”. First of all, what a shit friend, but, more importantly, Nickie and I were inseparable from Day 1 and, seven years later, we still are. If she’s “clingy”, I’ll sign up for that again and again and again.
I’ve had two successful business careers. One was filled with fun and excitement and incredible perks. The other actually earns me money; enough so that I can own a nice house and be generous to my beloved children and beautiful grandson, and spoil my wife, have all the pretty guitars I want, and an incredible horse, and a bucket list that gets smaller and smaller. I’ve lived for three years in the Holy Land, travelled to England and Poland and France and Italy. If this damned pandemic ever chills the fuck out, I have money put aside to go to Spain and France (for the fifth time). In fact, the only real limitations I have are that I can’t go up on the roof anymore or climb trees.
Maybe most importantly of all, I’ve stop denying my major health issues. I’ve battled depression for decades, yet never really sought help – until a couple of months ago. Depression is a disease. If I had diabetes or cancer, would I keep it a secret? Of course not. I’d get help. And I have. The medication seems to be working. I’m not angry at everything anymore; I’ve stopped driving like an asshole, stopped picking fights with cashiers and waitresses, stopped getting into arguments on social media, stopped immersing myself in politics and fear of the future, fear of everything that could happen. There’s no time for those things. They are pure negativity.
And I’ll say something out loud that I’ve never ever said before, kept as a deep dark secret, locked away never to see the light of day. For the past 35 years, since 1987, I’ve had narcolepsy. I’ve denied it, fought through it, been held prisoner by it. It has informed nearly every aspect of my life. But it is part of who I am, part of what defines the way I live my life. I don’t know what caused it and it’ll never be cured, but it hasn’t prevented me from living this wonderful, incredible life. And you know what – after all these decades of living with this, I finally joined a support group just this week, and after reading dozens and dozens of stories, I realized just how blessed I’ve been. So many of “my people”, in fact pretty much everyone who has shared their stories in this group, have it much worse than I do. So many are crippled, and slaves to pharmaceuticals, trapped in their own bodies, unable to enjoy even little things. My symptoms are very mild in comparison. I have very few limitations. I’ve travelled the world, thrived in businesses, found my soul mate – someone who accepts me exactly as I am and truly loves me. Blessed indeed.
With age comes wisdom. I wouldn’t trade my birthdate for anything. I am who I am and I’m comfortable with me. In fact, really for the first time in my life, I truly love me. I’m a good egg. Lol.
A friend recently posed the question, “if you could restart your life at six years old or get ten million dollars in cash, which would you pick?” Shit, gimme the ten mil, bruh. First thing I’d do is give half of it away. No one needs that much money, especially when so many people I care about struggle from day to day. I’ve already been six, and every age between that and 65. I am shaped by all of the experiences I’ve had, and what an amazing journey it has been so far. I have zero regrets. NONE! Regrets are delusional. They imply that if I’d done something differently, I’d be in a better place. Well, that’s simply ridiculous. If I’d done things differently, I’d just as likely been in a worse place. If only I’d practiced harder, and become the rock star I dreamed of becoming, I could have been in the copter with Stevie Ray, or gotten AIDS or gotten robbed, ripped off, kidnapped. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
And where am I at 65? I’ve been blessed to put myself in a position where I can do what I want to do every day. And what I want to do is love my Sweet Beautiful Nickie, and tell my family and cherished friends that I love them, and play the guitar and write stories and cuddle a big, beautiful 1,200 pound beast, and water my dozens of pretty plants, and go walk four miles and make plans for our next trip to Europe, or just sit on the couch and take a nap in the middle of the day. Life is good. Today is good.
Happy Birthday, Joel. I love you ❤️