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Ladder to No Where

April 7, 2011

I’ve been saying that I’m 40 for the past three years now.  It isn’t what you think, I’m still not 40, but I became concerned when I started seeing how other people handled themselves when they turn into this number.  I thought it would be helpful for my psyche to get used to hearing my mouth say the number.   No one has ever said, “Nuh-uh!” or “”Wow, really?”  In fact, the only person who said anything was my dad, and that was only because he kept track of his age by adding 30 to whatever I was, so when he suddenly thought he was 70, he busted out a calculator. 

Now in my third year of 40, I think I have some wisdom.  Nothing I would encase in a cookie mind you, but there are some nuggets in there.  One of the things I learned the hard way (because is there another way?), is that once your realize you’re not on a good path, it’s important to find your way off of it as close to now as possible.  Of course, there is a difference between being on an unhealthy path and having a bad week or even month. 

I stayed on mine for ten years.  Can you imagine?  Ten years!  I got myself stuck starting up a ladder that when I could finally see where it was leading, I no longer wanted to reach the top.  But instead of going back down and starting on a new one, I just stopped climbing, staying where I was.   After all, at least I was up a ways, right?  I may not have been happy, but staying put seemed smarter than starting all over again. 

Then one day, the general manager said in a sales meeting,

“If I’ve gotta be a hill billy, I’ll be a hill billy.  If I gotta be a hippie, I’ll be a hippie.  Hell, I’ll be a nazi if I gotta be a nazi, but I’m gonna walk out of there with my money.” 

At the time it was funny.  But then I started to correlate it with other quotes from general managers I had worked under.  One who, at my farewell happy hour, only said,

“Well, thank you for making me some money.” 

And yet another GM I worked under told his sales staff, 

“I have these pants custom-made so that the pockets go all the way down to my ankles.  That way I have room for all the money you people make me.”

I guess ABC Saturday Morning’s “School House Rock” was right, three is a magic number, because it finally occurred to me that not only did none of them care a piece about me or my needs, but like sexual partners, they seemed to have sucked a portion of my spirit with every one I took.  

I’m finally on a path of restoration, and it feels great, even if it did take turning 40 to do it.   If you are also stuck, please heed the advice written here.  There was a time in everyone’s life when uncertainty was the most certain thing about every situation we undertook, but we marched through anyway and came out better on the other side.  This is still true.  Change will always feel awful, until it’s actually done.  Think back on your own timeline, and tell me I’m wrong.

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