But, approaching 40, filling the roles of Dad and Husband, satisfied with my career path, I had the faint idea this was it. This is how it is and how it will be; the road is long and straight. I wasn't particularly chagrined at that idea. I find enough humor and verification in my daily life. The problem is when you set your mind to process only the mundane.
I'm prone to fugues. Anyone who's ever tried to get my attention when I'm "deep" in thought knows this. I'm distracted, unavailable. I'm running down so many scenarios in my head that I can't see a foot in front of me. More often than not, these mental ping pong matches are tinged with worry, about finances, performance at home and at work, tasks not yet begun or completed. And I get so wrapped up in them that I'm not open to new experience.
I wrote the above in my "Year End" post, the point of which was ostensibly that poker has injected a little excitement into my daily routine, has become a muse that has re-invigorated my writing. While that point has validity, I'm wrong. Dead Wrong.
Most people I know, self included, are optimistic sorts. We don't sit around waiting for bad things to happen. We're open to the moment. That, or we always expect everything will remain fine.
The problem with that is one fails to notice those small changes. The big picture remains unchanged, but it slowly gets distorted in the corners of the screen, almost invisible and seemingly insignificant. Untended, however, those small changes tend to multiply and before you know it, everything is blurry and unrecognizable.
It's like smoking. When I take one of my many daily puffs, I don't think about how each of them is shortening my life. We don't often think about death and mortaility until it's staring us in the face. So, with each inhale--instant and personal gratification--the scene changes, subtly, but assuredly.
The part I hate the most up there is, "The road is long and straight." Why would that be something I accept? And furthermore, why would I need something as relatively insignificant as poker to push me off that path into a positive direction?
It's unfathomable to me that I felt comfortable with stasis. I'm talking about my home life here. Like I said, there is joy to be found there. But that's all I was doing, hoping to FIND, instead of proactively SEEKING. No, the only seeking I did was in poker. At home, my effort was lackadaisical, my attention fleeting. The road is long and straight, just put it on cruise control and turn your thoughts elsewhere.
When I light up, I'm not thinking about the end of my life. Death is certain, but I'm unconcerned. It's in the future and the future doesn't need attention now. But it does. And you best pay attention to the present if you don't want your image of life to get blurred.
Furthermore, things die every day. Dreams, hopes, innocence, love. They die because they are not nourished, not preserved, not embraced. And before you know it, there's a void. The place where all these cornerstones of your future have dwelt is empty. And trust me, you never know what's gonna rush in to fill that barren space.
The road is not long and straight. The journey is filled with possibility. You've only need to look into the brush to find it, to point it out, to clutch that new discovery to your breast to send yourself and your loved ones off into unexpected and rewarding directions. And if you find yourself wandering solo? With your individual pursuit trumping all others, leaving your family behind to find their own way?
You might wake up lost. And alone.