Yes, I am a pirate
Two hundred years too late.
The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothin’ to plunder.
I’m an over forty victim of fate;
arriving too late, arriving too late.
Jimmy Buffett, “A Pirate Looks at Forty”
In seven months, I will turn 49. Which means in a year and seven months, I will turn 50. Which really means that in what will seem like about three weeks, I will be 50 years old. That’s how fast everything goes these days. And the older I get the more I come to believe that youth really is wasted on the young.
I have been told many times that life is a marathon, not a sprint. What does that even mean? Life is long? You have to be in really good shape? You have to pace yourself? This doesn’t work for me. And besides, I hate running.
I have also been told that life is a journey, not a destination. That fits me a little better. No running at least. But if life is a journey, then death would, I guess, be a destination. So we are on a journey to death. Well, that’s kind of depressing.
Two years ago this December, our family bought a little ranch just outside of Dublin, Texas, and for the last two years I have participated in an activity that could loosely be referred to as “deer hunting.” I sit in a blind twice a day and watch for deer to come to my feeders. Or not. Mostly not.
I never hunted deer before 2 years ago. But I remember 15 or so years ago I had some buddies I regularly played cards with. They were all big deer hunters. They wore camouflage shirts in the off-season and had those big “Trophy Hunters” stickers on the back windows of their pickup trucks. I used to rib them that they had set up a petting zoo with their feeders and their blinds and one day they show up at the petting zoo with a .45.
Well, this must have gravely upset the karmic balance in the world—like walking around the courthouse the week before a trial talking about how you are going to kick some prosecutor butt. I have now spent so many days in a blind staring at an empty feeder that I want to call those guys and apologize to them. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is the firm belief they would just think I was an idiot all over again.
I wonder, given that the “days hunting” versus “days getting” ratio is so bad, why in the world it even appeals to me. In the city, I think the only thing that could come close to that palpable frustration might be a round of golf. Most times after leaving the blind never having laid eyes on a deer, I am really pissed. I swear I’ll never do it again. But then it gets to be late afternoon, and there I am, in the blind, silently watching while birds carry off the corn I spread on the ground until it gets dark enough for the raccoons to take over.
The truth is I am beset with an affliction that causes me to expect success when failure is the norm. The upshot is that I focus almost entirely on results. And that, I am beginning to realize, is no way to enjoy life.
So my thought is that life is a process, not a result. Everything that is important really kind of is a process. Friendship. Love. Marriage. Relationships. They are all processes. And I spend a hell of a lot more time in the process than realizing the result—if indeed I realize it at all. So the process is the thing. The point of the exercise is the exercise itself. Wow.
Now, when I am sitting in the blind this weekend with my son, I am going to try not to focus so much on results and try to enjoy the process. You might call it a journey without a destination. But, hopefully, not another damned hunt without a deer. (No, really, I’m very zen about this now. Really.)
Everybody have a great holiday and thank you for supporting TCDLA and Voice for the Defense this year.