Photo: The Old Man and the Sea
Well, it's now February 2019, and on the last day of this month, I will be 50 years old. I am not saying this to solicit birthday wishes and presents (cash would be quite handy, thanks) but because 50 seems like a pretty big deal.
When I turned 40, I was quite depressed about it, mainly because I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I was only half way through an Open University degree (I graduated at 41), I was completely agoraphobic (and in counselling for it) and hadn't drawn a thing for a few years. Now, approaching 50, while I am not at all successful (or even earning minimum wage) I am drawing and enjoying drawing more than I ever have, I’ve had a book published and have a couple of projects on the go that I am excited about. I feel like I am just getting going and am not that depressed about 50 at all. As I said, though, it seems like a big deal.
According to modern estimates of life-expectancy, I must be nearly one third of the way through my life by now and I feel like I should at least do something to mark the occasion. I haven’t had a birthday party since my 30th, didn’t have a stag do before I got married, and think I will regret not doing something for 50.
As my wife will also be 50 later this year, and in April we will have been together for 25 years, it’s a big year for anniversaries. We have talked about having a joint party in the garden in the summer, and maybe we will do that, but we were both pretty low on other ideas. After someone suggested it, we sat down a couple of weeks ago and tried to write a list of 50 things we want to do over the next year (25 things each). My wife came up with quite a lot of things that she wants to do, and we have already booked a canal holiday in Wales in July, which was something she wanted to do. As for me, I’ve got almost nothing. My list so far consists of just six things:
1) Get a tattoo.
2) Go to a metal gig.
3) Maybe become a vegan or something.
4) Go to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
5) Learn a language.
6) Learn to play a musical instrument.
Realistically, other than going to the Lakes Festival, which I can’t really afford but would like to do anyway (although I still question the wisdom of holding a comics convention in a lake), none of these things are going to happen. I’d like the tattoo but can’t decide what to get (something that makes me look like a bad ass, rather than someone with a bad ass) and my wife hates them. I’d also like to go to a metal gig but I don’t have anyone to go with and would probably hate it anyway, as I’m not a big fan of crowds. And while I already don’t eat much meat (but do eat quite a lot of fish and diary) and would like to try being a vegan, I think I would struggle to find things I can eat, as nuts, seeds, lentils, etc., usually upset my stomach. It’s also very unlikely that I will learn a language now, unless I have to flee Brexit Britain, or to play a musical instrument, as my time would probably be better spent writing and drawing (I think I will have to write a separate blog post explaining why I wanted to learn to play an instrument).
Attempting to write down 25 things I want to do has made me realise that I am either incredibly boring or just very content. Really, although I may have a reputation as a bit of a misery (if I have a reputation at all), I think I am a fairly easy-going, easily-pleased person. I like drawing, writing, comics, heavy metal (I will blog about my metal mid-life crisis another time), spending time with my wife and our dogs, beer, and watching TV. That may sound extremely boring to a lot of people but I think people who are constantly dissatisfied are pretty boring. I am not at all satisfied with the state of politics at the moment, and the world generally, and think it’s highly likely that we are all doomed, but apart from these external factors that I can’t do very much about, the only things missing from my life are money (I am so broke) and a calorie-controlled diet. For the most part, I’m pretty happy – I’m happily married, have a nice place to live, and am healthier than I’ve been in years – and trying to write down 25 things I want to do and realising that there isn't much I want to do has just caused me unnecessary anxiety. I still want to do something to mark my 50th birthday, as I do regret not celebrating my 40th, my stag night, etc., and am open to suggestions, but really I just want to spend the years I have left before I die of an obesity- / apocalypse-related illness focusing on the things I already know I like doing.