Tuesday, March 9, 2010

20,000 days old

My dad is really good at a lot of things. Point to any star in the sky and he can tell you its name and what constellation it's a part of. His advice is constantly sought out in the professional world of commercial real estate development (yeah, I still don't really get what he does for a living) and I would never want to play opposite him in a cutthroat game of Trivial Pursuit.

But where Mike Dev's true calling lies is in writing (sorry Dad, but you were never going to be the next Eric Clapton). Unfortunately, he's too shy and modest to saturate the world with proof of his genius. That's why it's always a treat for me (and the others on his email list) to find a nice little hello in my inbox. Today he turns 20,000 days old and ponders the way we measure our lives (kind of like that Rent song). If one day I can write half as good as this, I'll consider myself lucky. So read below to become a fan of dear old Dad. And if you happen to be out at happy hour later (yeah I meant to get this up much earlier but real life got in the way), toast to his 20,000th day!

In what now seems decades ago (the heck with seems, a decade-and-a-half warrants pluralization), I turned forty in a haze of self-doubt and self-loathing.
At least that’s what I imagined. Martine just thought it was acid reflux. By fifty (fitty?), I may have still had my doubts but, in the interest of reduced carb intake, I was down to well under half a loath.

As I near 55, I realize I‘ve never been comfortable with the typical annual and decennial method for marking time. I was told that years were like milestones we passed on this journey through life, but I didn’t buy it. Because life isn’t like a journey.

It’s like a pinball game.

You pull back the plunger and let the ball fly and suddenly it’s out there on the table, boinging off bumpers, running up ramps, rolling through rollovers, spinning spinners, while you’re maniacally flipping flippers hoping to keep the ball in play as the machine clatters and clangs and the counters click the score into the stratosphere. You’re in the moment, cruising along and then the ball makes like a bullet between the flippers and its gone.

Dead silence. So you try it again. And again. Maybe you get a few bonus balls. And maybe you have to pull out another quarter and start all over (I’m showing my antiquity here - Now all you do is swipe your debit card). So pinball produces giddy excitement and breathless anticipation followed by quiet despair. And then you pay more money. Note the life parallels.

That’s why we should adopt the pinball scoring system. Big numbers, something to be proud of, in an over-the-top, All-American way, unafraid to exceed double, triple, quadruple digits and more.

So what do we count - heartbeats? No, that would be like counting seconds (I’m up over 2 billion heartbeats already, at an average of 72 beats per minute – not counting the ten or twelve times it was racing along at up to 120 BPM for two to three minutes at a clip. Thank you. Thank you. You know who you are). Minutes and hours as well, they flash by too quickly to notice.

But days work. They’re the right unit of measurement. I can easily remember days that changed my life. That day in 1980 when Martine walked down the aisle toward me. The day we brought Caitlin home from the hospital and it first really hit me that she was our responsibility. And the day that Sam made his entry into this world, (an homage a la Alien,), and I followed all the nurses and doctors around until I was sure he was just fine.

Great days. Ones that changed my life for the better. And so many other great days. Like the days I met each of you (who are plowing through this message this morning and regretting the day we met).

I’m 20,000 days old today. That’s a good, round number. A good pinball number. Certainly better than 55 - a wussy, conserving fuel, speed limit kind of number if ever there was one. I’m not counting birthdays anymore.

Thanks for being part of the great days of my life. I hope you have a great day today.


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