I spoke today with a couple of good friends, with whom I was discussing life and work and how things are going, and the conversations turned to the whole topic of "Where did the time go?" You know, now that I'm beginning to think in terms of retirement and what that will mean for me in terms of income and work and... (ominous musical sting) The Future! (The other day I was thinking of the Beatles' song, "When I'm Sixty-four", realizing that when I first heard it 64 seemed eons away. And now... I'm 64!)
Who knows, as Judy Collins once sang, where the time goes? A couple of weeks ago I celebrated 29 years of sobriety and I was, as I usually am on these anniversaries, struck by how quickly the time has passed. It doesn't seem that long ago that I finally had that moment of clarity, the spiritual experience people talk about, that led to me putting down the drink for good. I had known for years that I had a problem with alcohol, as did most everyone I knew, family and friends. And as hard as I tried, I just couldn't stay sober. Then one night it just hit me like a ton of the proverbial bricks: I can't do this any more. I remember saying it out loud. I can't do this... So I polished off whatever it was I was drinking at the time (I think it was one of those Manhattans-in-a-can I was so fond of) and took myself to bed. There's no earthly reason it should have "stuck" that time, but it did. That was my last drink, January 12, 1984. Miracles do happen.
In the meantime I have: been through several courses of therapy, moved to Los Angeles, started a small business, starred in a no-budget independent movie, met and lost a partner to AIDS, traveled to Canada, London, Ireland and the Dominican Republic, moved back from Los Angeles, was reunited with someone I had a crush on who is now my partner of eleven-plus years, was diagnosed with clinical depression, got my Actors Equity card, got acting work and an agent, then wound up working at Drexel University, was diagnosed with bladder cancer, anemia and diverticulosis...oh, and I wrote, produced and directed two shows for the Philly Fringe Festival, went through some Landmark education courses, and got a couple of tattoos. And those are just the highlights.
It has been, as many friends can attest about all our lives, a roller coaster. And every time I think things have smoothed out, that I'm in for some smooth sailing and uneventful times, things change again -- for better or worse, in big ways and small. I've been privileged to know some remarkable people in these 29 years, many of whom I count as friends. And I've been fortunate to have been shown that it all fits together somehow. That as random as things may seem, it's all part of a pattern. The pieces of the puzzle all fall into place. The trouble is, we can't see that until after the fact. When we're in the midst of it all (whatever it all may be) it just seems like a maelstrom that makes no kind of sense, nohow. It's like thinking you've been on bumper cars, then looking back and realizing you've been on a straightaway four-lane highway the whole time.
Apart from the thousand physical "things" that seem to come with aging, my mental and emotional outlooks seem to change from year to year. (Or month to month or week to week, even.) Lately I've been having that vaguely OCD thing I recently wrote about, and this vague anxiousness (not really anxiety) that tends to keep me off-kilter. I guess it's due at least in part to the fact that things will be changing in ways big and small, and fairly soon if the amazingly fast passage of the last 29 years is anything to go by, and I wonder if I'm ready.
Well, maybe not right now. But I trust I will be. I trust that whatever's in store, I'll be taken care of. As my new, favorite philosophy says: Don't worry about tomorrow, God is already there.