For a minute I pondered writing some bullshit list to commemorate the fact that I have lasted almost four decades without someone killing me, including myself. Perhaps titling it “37 Things I Have Learned From 37 Years of Life” or some other click-bait type headline. I make no qualms about it: I used to do this shit for the sake of, well, I’m not sure why I did it. There was a motive there that I haven’t fully fleshed out. SEO? Acceptance? Self-flagellation? But that’s not me. Not anymore… And I’d be awfully presumptuous to sit here and rant about of list of arbitrary things I’ve learned when, admittedly, I’d be leaving out an entire encyclopedic volume of shit I am largely clueless about. And that’s just the stuff that I KNOW I don’t know. Don’t even get me started on things I DON’T know I don’t know. I actually like the title “Thirty-Seven Years Later”, now that I glance back up at it. It wasn’t constructed for SEO purposes, and I couldn’t care less that you clicked on it. It’s authentic in a way that it doesn’t need to be labeled “This is Authentic” in order to be understood as such. That seems to be rare nowadays. I bet if I put “authenticity” in the title of this post, my SEO would be a helluva lot better. People like sizzle so much they forget to eat the steak. Not me. Not anymore. At this point, thirty-seven years later, I am content with who I am and where I am. I don’t have to tell you I am authentic any more than I have to tell people I’m the leadership in my clinic. Act accordingly and everyone knows the deal. It took thirty-seven years for me to figure this shit out. 37. I got a harsh reminder, this morning, of exactly what I’m not. This coincidentally happened on my birthday, and while I’ll be the first to admit that I see it as just another arbitrary day, I still do (selfishly) crave a day that can be all about me. Additionally, I like at least one day devoid of bullshit. Alas, you can leave social media, but you can’t escape friends and clients sending you screenshots. I’m not the social media guy anymore. I’m not the guy who makes excuses for shit behavior of “influencers” and I walked away from that because, in being a part of me, it was eroding my soul. Fitness is, by and large, a marketing gaggle, which is fine. Until it isn’t. I won’t get into details. It’s my fucking birthday and I’m entitled to diva-like behavior this one day of the year. What I will say is that, oddly enough, though, this didn’t bother me as much as it SHOULD have. For the same reason I wrote about in “I’m Here Because of You“, I simply had other shit to deal with – employee evaluations, building the clinic schedule for my students. Yeah, it’s my birthday, whatever…I just have too many people counting on me to deal with shit pertaining to my odd and dysfunctional social life. I decided to forgo the express B Train this morning and hop on the local Q. I wanted to slow down a bit and think about this and life and the way things flow along. As much time as I spend in my own head, there are still stones left unturned and often I find myself curious as to my own motivations and reactions. In many respects, I am an odd duck when it comes to interaction with people. While in a leadership capacity, I can be a bit intense. I expect so a lot of people and expect do a lot of myself. In my personal life: not so much. In fact, I have such a low bar that most situations that are extraordinarily hurtful don’t phase me much. The last time I was really bent out of shape for any amount of time was an issue revolving around money CHP didn’t pay me. Really, I don’t know what this means. Clearly I’m not money hungry and the above situation really only dragged on because it was insulting and, well, I have bills to pay. As for the interpersonal issues that fail to bug me? I’m clueless. I can cite mommy issues, but those who are close to me know that I am adamantly against finger pointing, and all about taking personal responsibility. When push comes to shove, one can only assume that this is a defense mechanism to prevent me from over-investing in people. As I am fond of saying: this is a conversation to be had with a professional. I do this often. I mean, having conversations with professionals. Thirty-seven years later I still am, by and large, alone. Notice I didn’t say “lonely”. To be lonely is to realize others are absent. I am alone precisely because I am aware of my own presence…after 37 years. From the time I graduated high-school I was, for all intents and purposes, on my own. This forced me to be dependent on myself and perhaps due to my perceived difficulties as a kid (notice I said perceived, as I question sometimes whether or not I dysfunctionalized something that was actually functional), I learned not to expect all that much. Again, why over-invest in others if you can only count on yourself? I’m not saying this is a positive statement or worldview. It isn’t. And it’s part of the work I do with myself almost incessantly. But it’s not all bad. My circle is small and everyone knows where they stand. Vanessa tells me that I deserve better than some of the stuff I’m given by people, to include friends. Again, I don’t know that I believe this. I don’t know that I deserve anything at all, really, and the Taoist in me is content to believe that things aren’t really happening TO me of FOR me. They are just things. They are just happening. For no one and no thing. Thirty-seven years later I have reached a point where I see the vast majority of people outside of my professional life as entities that come and go. Social media “people” get even worse treatment from me. I see them as non-entities, actually. They are not real, they are words on a screen. I can edit and manipulate them, as they are as insubstantial as the personal skeletons that I pluck out of my closet for the sake of a story. I arrange old bones. When I was younger, friends would tease me for vanishing from parties without so much as goodbye. The reason for my silent departures is that I always felt it something that is pushed on by society. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for when and why I leave. Ditto for forgiveness. We don’t owe each other forgiveness outside of society’s ridiculous demand for it. There are plenty of people that have wronged me that I wish nothing but peace, joy and well-being on…and yet I haven’t necessarily forgiven their transgressions. It’s not a requirement. We are just told it is. After thirty-seven years I understand that people can come and go. Sometimes we walk a path with others for a short while and veer off, not to meet again. Other times we come together for years. If I have learned one thing it is that you need to look at the moments you ARE together and find the joy there. Look back on THAT with wonder and gratitude. Leave out all the rest. So walk with me a while. Or don’t. Stay with me a bit. Or don’t. I’m here thirty-seven years later and I’m sure I’ll be here a few more.