Skip to main content

LATE BLOOMERS UNITE

Reading my mother's AARP magazine, I came across a quote by 19th-century painter Katsushika Hokusai. "It was not until after my 70th year that I produced anything of significance."


My, the man sure was a late bloomer. And here I thought I was behind my time. I reached my adult stature at 14, but I have never really made it in the adult world, if you gauge my success by conventional standards (annual income, material possessions). I read recently that floor-side tickets for the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight were going for over $350,000. Such a sum for one measly seat in a 36-minute event (not including undercards)! Ungodly! And I thought about it. This is about twice as much money as I have made in my entire adult life! From my first job waiting tables at 18 until now. That's 24 years!

It turns out Hokusai (and I) are not alone. Van Gogh and Monet also made it later than you probably think. The prophet Mohammed, "unquestionably among the Illumined Ones of earth, who had attained and retained a high degree of cosmic consciousness," didn't have his visions until he was past the age of 40, at which point in life Jesus Christ was long since dead. Rodney Dangerfield didn't get his break until he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show at 46. Aristotle didn't establish his school until he was fifty-three. At 62 Jeff Goldblum will be a father for the first time.

The ridiculous and the sublime, at home together. As it should be.

As a writer my idol for a long time was Gregory McDonald. McD is an Aquarian like me, and author of the hugely popular book Fletch and its many sequels, which spawned a couple films that I for one found rather diverting. Fletch was McDonald's first big hit (although by this time he had penned Running Scared).


The author was 37 at the time the book came out. (Which is rather young compared to other late bloomers in the literary field.) I read most of his books in my late twenties, so to me McDonald seemed old when he made it big. Then my thirties came and went. And now it's my forties and still no success. But in the intervening years my definition of making it has changed. And I submit this: Success as quiet contentment. I look back and think, my how restless I was all that time. I think of the careless ease of a happiness that shines from within. And all the so-called successes who were anything but. The authors who are driven to drink and/or take their lives! Hemingway, for instance. And Thompson, and Chandler, and Williams and O. Henry and Faulkner and Poe. And Stephen King, once upon a time. Would I even want to write a best-seller? I think of all the book tours, and readings, the glad-handing and gabbing, and I get wavy lines. It's all a pain in the neck, really.

Sure I still write, but I do it for me. I write like an ambitious person - without having even a smidgen of ambition. Self-expression is an end in itself. And my idols have changed. No longer the scribes, it's the sages whom I admire. Ramana Maharshi is more my style. The man only owned a walking staff, begging bowl and loin cloth; he alternated between a cave and hallway his entire adult life, and he hardly ever spoke, much less wrote. But he was content. Such is the bliss of Self - provided you can access it. The Self is there for anyone who's interested.

Not many are. Not everyone is like me, I'm aware. Most are action-oriented. We have dreams, and we seek to realize them. To you I say that a wish and its fulfillment are like two sides of a coin. Heads and tails are separated in space, while a desire and its fruition are separated in time. One brings with it the other. But sometimes the wish changes. And sometimes a frustrated desire is its own fulfillment. Rather than carry around the same old dusty piece of nickel, trade it in for a new coin, one of pure gold. Gold is your true nature. It will never tarnish or depreciate (unlike common currency, which is becoming worthless).

Until you realize this, know that if you're a late bloomer who clings tenaciously to your wishes, have faith. Keep doing what you do. But remember, doing anything the same way over and over again expecting a different result is Einstein's definition of insanity. So learn from your mistakes. Reinvent yourself. Be open to experimenting. Again, have faith.

As Abe Lincoln once said, "Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." And he spoke from experience. So fail nobly, my friend. Success is not just basking in glory, but how you deal with defeat. Be Invincible!

Damn if I don't feel better already. Nice chat son!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

EVERYTHING'S INTENTIONAL

There is no such thing as screw-ups.

Case in point. My excellent friend Deej comes over to help me beautify the garden. He immediately dives in, crouching down on his knees and weed whacking with his bare hands. Before I can say yay or nay, he proceeds to remove a huge clump of daisy greens from the oblong patch of Earth adjacent to the driveway. The area instantly looks bare. Like the back of Woody Allen's head. Smoothing out the soil and shaking his head Deej mutters to himself "I fucked it up!" over and over again. We try everything. Planting succulents in the daisy's place. Covering it with rocks. But still the area looks barren. And every time you water it the water trickles down onto the sidewalk in the absence of roots to hold it in place. It's getting dark so we go back inside. The next day I return to the spot with a clear perspective and remove all the other daisies, leaving only rose bushes and the succulents that DJ planted, and depositing 10 bags of m…

SOUL CYCLE

This is not a commentary on the latest fitness fad. Because if it were, the little I'd have to say on the subject would be largely derogatory. I simply cannot see see how crouching in a stuffy, dark, cramped room surrounded by sweat-drenched strangers while expending a lot of energy and going nowhere deserves to be called fun, though aficionados tell me it is (fun). I tell these aficionados that if no pain no gain is your thing, discomfort can be had for a lot cheaper than $50 an hour. Try plucking your nose hairs. What we don't do for the sake of beauty. This endurance heir to the Stairmaster and elliptical is all hype. There's a name for the type who likes to run (or otherwise move) in place. It's called a hamster. 

This reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell, about what living with a woman turns a guy into. You go from a wolf to a sheep to a hamster. After nearly 40 years of married life, my dad has added cockroach to the zoological lineage. Which I'm sure …