I was going to bed late, had to get up early for work—probably should’ve skipped that cup of coffee—and I was getting old.
Wow, my son turned 15! I am old.
I lay in bed and thought about what I’d accomplished in those 15 years and—the cause for my restlessness—what I’d failed to accomplish.
Only a minute ago I was in film school, rewatching for the 100th time my favorite movie, “The Godfather.” The film was made long before I was born. At the time I was in school, during the mid-‘90s, “The Godfather” was about 25 years old. Old! Lying in bed the other night, I realized the don was now almost another 25 years older.
This has happened to me before—I take a path down a dark alleyway, overanalyzing my time on this planet, what’s passing me by, what I’m leaving behind, my kid no longer a kid, my dreams slipping away, my brand-new puppy now older than me in dog years (he can retire), and my parents’ generation moving into the spot my grandparents’ generation previously occupied. Yeah, it’s a dark path.
But there’s light behind me and I can easily flip a 180 and go for that light. Only, while I’m thinking of doing that, my feet are still taking me into the dark, I’m not turning around, and the safer street with pleasant thoughts is pretty much a glazed donut: long gone.
Because how could I sleep when life’s just sashaying by? My son will be telling me how to teach him to drive a car soon. Didn’t he just learn to ride a bike?
I’m leaving behind career goals, projects I should’ve completed around the house, activities I wanted to do with my son but no longer can because he’s too old . . . Do I need to make changes in my life? At this point, can I make changes?
It’s too late—I was lost in that dark alley, struggling to breathe (anxiety?), nowhere near my exit for sleep (“Siri, open Waze.”). An hour passed since I’d gone to bed and I had four hours till I had to get up for work.
“Work”—reminds me how I recently stepped a few rungs down the creative ladder I was climbing in my career and took a retail job for the cruddy (I mean steady) pay. (Define “recently”: eight years ago.) Wow, eight years! I was supposed to be there a few months while I got my writing together and added some screenplays to my IMDb page. Instead, I’ve become complacent.
Only I never sit. Between my day job, this column, a couple movies, a book a few years ago and another one due out in October, plus all the family stuff at the forefront . . . phew! I need a vacation.
I won’t have more than two days off until after Christmas. Wow, CHRISTMAS! Christmas is practically here! Then it’s 2019! Wow, 2019! Forget my career! I had to get my kid thinking about HIS career! I had to start planning for COLLEGE! I also had to stop thinking with so many CAPs, italics and exclamation points!
But first I needed sleep. Lost another two hours. Whatever I was gonna do, I needed to do it when I was awake. And I was still awake.
Go to sleep. Don’t think about stress. Darn it. Just thought about stress.
But I reeled it in and made a plan to make a plan about my plans the next day after work, which actually calmed my nerves. And as I dozed off, the stress about where I should be in life lifted. The caffeine from the coffee I shouldn’t have had was dissipating.
Maybe the feeling of restlessness would return. For the moment, however, I was comfortable in my skin. Ahhhhhh.(That’s a sigh of relief, not me screaming in agony.)
Seventeen minutes later my alarm went off. Ahhhhh! (There’s the screaming in agony.)
This story appeared in The Acorn Newspapers of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, CA, in August of 2018. You can find other stories like it from Michael Picarella in his book, “Everything Ever After (Confessions of a Family Man),” and at MichaelPicarellaColumn.com.