RokStories, self improvement — July 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

You Can Call Me Al


A man walks down the street
He says why am I soft in the middle now
Why am I soft in the middle
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo-opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard

Bonedigger Bonedigger

— Paul Simon “You Can Call Me Al”

Its the only lines I can ever remember from that song (other than the chorus, of course.) It was a poignant observation on mid-life, and although I was very far from that point in my life the first time I heard those words (I was 11 when the song debuted), I understood what they meant.

The most striking thing about the song isn’t the current state of the man’s life, or his beer belly. No, the most striking thing is that he’s not really sure how he got there. And that’s sort of how I think we all feel as we approach mid-life. Even those of us that are pretty happy with where we are. We take note of the little things that bother us (like being soft in the middle), and we wonder “How did I get here?”

How is that George Clooney is pushing 50 and looks that good, while someone like Adam Sandler is 5 years younger, and looks, well, more or less what I will probably look like in ten years if I continue down this path?  The answer is easy. Planning.

I am amazingly happy with my life. But I am not where I thought I would be ten years ago.  That’s a lie. Ten years ago, I didn’t give any thought to where I was going to be today.  That’s how we all get here. Its only been in the last two or three years that I have given any thought to where I want to be in the future.

Now that I see the problem, I have to do something about it. When I was blissfully ignorant of my own choice to trot down the path of mediocrity, I could claim to only passively cause my fate. But now that I fully understand the implications of doing nothing to set and achieve goals for the future, to do otherwise would be to willfully chose mediocrity.

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