Tantrums

Today I was standing in the gas station, getting ready to purchase my diet soda and a breakfast sandwich, when my back pain flared up.

The pain has been a major hindrance to me for some time. Yesterday I left work a few minutes early, skipping out on a team meeting, because it had gotten so bad. It keeps me from playing with my kids much – sitting hunched over a table covered with Legos is as bad as chasing them around the house. It’s already squashed some dreams – I know that I can’t stand long enough to do any acting anymore. I feel like a jerk because I can’t help people move, or help with some chores around the house. The pain is a huge obstacle in my life.

And yet I’m still in denial – I can’t be one of those people who has this kind of disability. I mean, I’m not disabled, after all; some days I can stand without agony or play with the kids without discomfort.

This morning at the gas station, it all kind of hit me at once, along with a nice flare in back pain that came from standing in line too long. I had a fleeting moment there where I wanted to hurl my giant soda at the ground and just storm out, angry at the universe for the hand I’ve been dealt.

I didn’t; the gas station certainly didn’t deserve that.

As I sit here typing my rotator-cuff impingement is radiating pain down to my elbow, and whatever has been intermittently plaguing my shoulder blade for the last year is humming along as well. I can’t go play catch or Frisbee; I can’t jump on a trampoline; I’m loath to visit Disneyland again this December.

So at times I get a passing sensation of despair or anger; this morning it was anger.

The 2nd Half of My Life

This year I’ll turn 39. As I reflect on what I’ve accomplished this far in my life, I have a lot of holes – things I wish I’d done that I didn’t do. And often, it feels like it’s “too late” to do them now.

I’m not sure why that is. A trick our minds play on us to ensure self-defeat, I suppose. But I plan to fight it.

I’m a big “clean slate” kind of guy. I love New Year’s Resolutions. Starts of the week, or the month, or the year – they all feel like a good time to work on myself. So now, I’m going to set up my biggest slate of all.

I’ve decided I’m going to live until I’m 78. Okay, maybe older, but 78 is actually pretty optimistic given my current health – I’m overweight, with high cholesterol, and my father died of a heart attack in his fifties. One calculator I tried said I could expect to live until I’m 70. I’m going to say 78.

That means my life divides neatly in half. I have a fresh, clean slate for the second half, and it starts in a few months. Before I list what I’ll accomplish in that second half, though, let me delineate what I got done in this half:

  • Finished high school and college, despite major depression and losing both parents before I was 14.
  • Served a full-time mission for 2 years in Argentina.
  • Learned to play a few hymns (now forgotten) on the piano.
  • Learned to play the drums.
  • Got married and had 3 kids.
  • Hiked Mt. Timpanogos.
  • Bought a home.
  • Wrote two novelizations for hire.
  • Performed in well over a thousand stage, sketch, and improv shows.
  • Taught myself to program.
  • Built dozens of websites, now earning money on the side.
  • Built and managed Singlesaints.com, which led to multiple marriages for its members.
  • Sold Singlesaints for five figures.
  • Self-published an Amazon best-selling ebook composed of my tweets and cartoons.
  • Went hang-gliding.
  • Learned to front- and back-flip on trampolines.
  • Drew an online comic for more than a year.

Not too shabby – that’s what I can come up with off the top of my head. But there are things I’ve wanted to do and failed to do. This I will rectify in the second half of my life.

  • I will learn to play the piano. I will be able to read music, and serve in the Church by being able sit down and play anything when needed.
  • I will learn to play the guitar. I’ll record songs of my own composing, to share with whomever might be interested.
  • I will write and sell a novel. Hopefully more, but we’ll see. Writing may not turn out to be my cup of tea.
  • I will lose 40 pounds. I will lower my cholesterol.
  • I will pay off my home and all my other debts.
  • I will work with charities that save children from hunger, from slavery, and from whatever other perils befall them.
  • I will have greater charity. I will be more diligent in my pursuit of righteousness.
  • I will love and serve my wife and children better than before.
  • I will meet my grandchildren, and spoil them.
  • I will continue to beat depression.
  • I will overcome shyness and introversion. I will learn people’s names.

We’ll see what else I come up with in the next 39 years. The first portion of my life approaches its end; now is the time for the even better sequel.