The Forty-Something Philosophy

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The Forty-Something Philosophy

The discussion began, as many have the last few weeks, with my oldest daughter.  It’s what used to be the empty, quiet time in the house, the twins in bed, the middle daughter either beating on her guitar and wailing away at her angst-ridden singer-songwriter tomes or headphones in zoning out the world.

“How long do you think you’ll be able to stay here in the house,” was the question?
“Not sure.  We have a lease.  Hoping the rent stays about the same.  Beyond that, though, I’m not sure we’ll stay once your sister graduates.  We won’t be able to afford it.”
“Will you move back to the Midwest?”
“Nah. Doubt it.  Change is okay.  Major changes we’ve had too many of lately.”

This made her think.

The possibilities were there: move to another suburb, closer to her aunt.  That’s a very distinct possibility, though it means a whole new high school and a whole new school system for the boys.  That will be determined by how well Middle School goes, I suppose.

But the conversation then moved to topics that seem to be filling up my social media feeds lately.

So many people are trying to put philosophies together with each decade in which they live.  The latest, being bandied about and sent to me innumerable times, is from an op-ed writer with the New York Times.  For the record, I think her article’s clever and her advice is sound.

I do take issue with trying to relate to a woman who lives in France and says she has luncheons with “someone in the fashion industry” as if that’s a regular occurrence.  I get it…this isn’t an article aimed at me (a guy) but then . . . it still keeps getting forwarded, posted, and inundating my news feeds.  It’s not like I can ignore it.

For the record, by the way, I love jazz.  I’m as happy listening to Miles Davis as I am having The Black Keys running in my head.  The line that’s supposed to be a funny throwaway line bugs me . . . which apparently is a violation of one of the tenets of the forty-somethings the author posits earlier in the article, I think.

But I digress…

One of the forty-something philosophies…which was also a thirty-something one, I’m sure…stated that nobody really knows what they’re doing.  There are no adults and they’re all winging it. She’s absolutely right.

I also have to say…I knew this years ago.  I haven’t known what I was doing as a parent, as an adult, as anything really for years.  The idea that I’m about to become 45 staggers me simply because mentally I don’t feel that.  Emotionally I certainly don’t feel it.  It’s only when I get up and my back hurts from 25 years of carrying cameras around or when I look up and see there’s just about as much grey hair as black that I realize…yeah.  You’re turning 45 this year.

But this brings me back to the discussion with the oldest child.  We talked about what happens after the last two – her brothers – leave the house.  It’s a tribute, I think, to my kids’ thoughts about what they, their siblings and their father can do that she didn’t flinch with my thoughts.
“I think your sister believes I’m kidding.  Part of me, though, is thinking about grabbing my gear and going on tour.”
My daughter didn’t flinch.  She simply stated: “you could.  You have the skills and there’s nothing holding you back.”

The picture up there, taken by my daughter, is me recording demos for a new record I hope to record.  I hear the scoffs and see the looks . . . so many think it’s an indulgence, a hobby.  Most look at it like my trying to act younger.  It’s not an act.

Going back to the jazz references…Miles Davis said once he chose musicians when he watched how they acted when they grabbed their instruments.  There were some, he said, he could tell just merged with it.  The instrument was like part of their body and they were most comfortable when it was there with them.  It sounds strange…but that’s me.  The guitars I have fit me like and extension of my arm.  I play a lot, though not as much as I wanted over the holidays.

The things that the pseudo-philosophers have been pummeling my social media feeds with are things I already knew.  I became a journalist when others thought it was a whim.  I became a writer when others thought it was silly.

I was always a musician.

No.  I can’t claim I’ve ever had lunch with a fashion magnate.


I did, however, once spend an evening with a King.  Sure, it’s blues, not jazz, but they’re like brothers or cousins.  One lends itself to the other and vice-versa.

Three years ago, when I had just hit the age that these philosophers are bemoaning and begrudging, my life turned upside down when my life passed away.  Since then I realized that life was not the breaths we take between beats it’s the experiences we create among the people that matter.  It’s spending an evening with the King and writing about the time you met that gorgeous blonde and she came home with you to your amazement.
It’s about the discussions of life you have with your daughter while sitting on the couch.

The philosophy isn’t about the decade of thirty-forty-fifty-something.  People who tell you that you cannot do something aren’t worth your time.  In reality the philosophy is living.

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