Seven months into being 40-years-old, something extraordinary has happened: I don’t give a crap. Not in a screw the world, I hate everybody kind of way. But I’m really done with sweating the small stuff, worrying about what people think of me and wasting my time on relationships that are dead ends. The great Laura Hayes, one of the original Queens of Comedy, describes this attitude as ‘Fuck it Forty’. This feels accurate. The things I used to stress out about, the people I used to coddle, the petty garbage that would pollute my mind and waste my time- fuck it. This is an incredible freedom and like a major milestone. They should really tell more people about this when they turn forty. Like they should print cards that say, “Happy 40th birthday! Please enjoy not giving a flying fuck!”
During my last play, the effects of “Fuck it Forty” really reared its liberating head. Flaky friends kept calling, emailing and sending text messages promising they’d be coming to my show. Them not showing up or canceling or making a big deal about getting there soon became as dramatic as anything we put on stage. And then when they don’t come there’s all these crazy ass apologies and lame excuses. And people always think you’re going to be mad at them, but here’s the thing, thanks to being forty, I don’t care.
Yes, I love them. Yes, I’d like them to see my shows. But really I don’t care. First of all, there will always be another show. Second of all, we sold out most of our run and had lots of people come, so a few flaky friends who couldn’t get their crap together didn’t sink our production. I love the people I know and want to see them but if they don’t show up, it’s no longer a big deal.I no longer hold stuff against them or try to make them pay for not doing exactly what I want them to do. For a person who spent most of his life worried that you were mad at him or that you hated him or that you were going to leave him, this is indeed an incredible transformation. Maybe its not ‘fuck it’ at all. Maybe its more that after four decades on this planet, the things that are important (my recovery, my relationship, my family, my spiritual life) have risen to the top and the other stuff just isn’t as pressing. Whatever it is, its a welcome shift and worth the number that comes along with it.
Every summer when I was a kid, comic books would have big full-color ads for the new crappy 80’s cartoons. The Smurfs! The Trollkins! The Snorks! The Littles! All essentially the same cartoon and all coming soon to Saturday morning! I’d hang onto whatever comic book it was so I’d know when the new shows were starting. This innocent issue of Betty and Veronica or She-Hulk soon bore the burden of becoming my all-knowing resource and guidepost for Saturday morning entertainment. I would check and recheck the dates almost daily. The anticipation was unbearable and senseless. Like why couldn’t the cartoons start in the summer? Why did we have to wait until fall?
As an addicted person, I’ve spent most of my life screaming at instant gratification to “Hurry the hell up!’ It’s beyond ironic that someone as inpatient as myself waited tables for so many years. Ha! Ha! Universe! Good one! The guy who couldn’t stand waiting in line at the grocery store spent over a decade reassuring hungry customers, “Your order will be right out.” Waiting tables can taught me a lot about patience and understanding. But mainly it taught me that people suck when they haven’t eaten. And in Los Angeles some of them have eaten in decades so you can imagine how crabby they are.Naturally, I again find myself waiting. Not tables, thank God. This blog would be replaced with a suicide note if that was the case.Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the experience and happy I had the work for as long as I did. But being almost 40 and working in some diner still telling people, “Your order will be right out” seems like my personal idea of hell.
The annoying little tickle in the back of my head that’s coming soon and driving me a little bit crazy is the fact that I will be turning 40 at the end of November. Here’s the truth. I’ve been having a 40 freak out. Not in a get myself a 22-year-old boy toy, a convertible and some hair plugs kind of way. But I definitely feel some pressure to get some nagging goals accomplished and to get my proverbial shit together. I mean I’m trying to live some bumper sticker like “Forty is the New 20!” or “Forty & Fierce!” But I actually feel like “Fuck?! Forty?! Really?” The upswing is that a lot of positive things have happened. Some writing goals have been reached, new spiritual practices are in place and I’ve gotten myself a sparkling set of teeth after going through some dental hell earlier this year. Now I just kind of wish 40 would get here. Not because it’s going to be mind-bending in its awfulness or awesomeness. But because I want it to be over. I’m having a big party and some friends and family from out-of-town will be here. It’ll be great and then on December 1st, I’ll just be another 40-year-old who gets to look forward to freaking out about turning 50-coming soon!
And yet the giant cosmic bitch slap of all of this is I really have a lot to enjoy right now.Living in the future makes me miss the incredible things currently happening in my life. From playing fetch with my cat while I drink my coffee to my impending stroll around the farmer’s market, things right here at 957am MST on September 15th, 2012 are pretty damn great. Besides, I need to remember that most of the things that are “coming soon” usually turn out to be not that big of a deal.