Sunday, June 18, 2017

40 Before 40

We spend a lot of time making lists of things we still want to do with our lives. You can find I don't even know how many articles about 30 Things to do Before You Turn 30, or 30 Books to Read Before you Turn 30, or 30 Countries to Visit Before you Turn 30 or whatever. You name it, there is a listicle telling what you need to do before that magical day when you turn 30.

Well, I'm about to leave my thirties for the next rather arbitrary adventure, and I'll be honest here, I've been having a bit of a rough go of it lately. Things were looking a bit grim and scary, and it was looking like I was going to kick off my fourth decade with nary a penny to my name, in desperate need of both a vacation and some new underwear. Thankfully, a lot of the things that were scary and grim sorted themselves out so I am okay for the time being (though always looking for opportunities for improvement). But I haven't quite gotten out of the funk of it. When I look at those lists of things I was supposed to have done by now, there is a lot I still have left to do.

So I think I need to look at it another way. Here is a list of 40 things I did before I turned 40, in no particular order, so I have it. So I know my life has not been wasted or misspent. So I know I have good stories to tell.

  1. I played Hamlet.
  2. I played King Lear.
  3. I was in a play for two years straight (Floss!).
  4. I starred in more than one movie.
  5. I saw the Cubs win the World Series.
  6. I caught Sam Mendes' attention with my very odd laugh.
  7. I traveled to Australia by myself.
  8. I traveled through Europe by myself.
  9. I traveled through Europe with friends.
  10. I saw the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.
  11. I fell in love.
  12. I rode a camel.
  13. I was sold for 80 camels while in Morocco.
  14. I headlined the Elbo Room in Chicago playing songs I wrote with a band I put together.
  15. I took second place in the Cabaret Division at the American Lindy Hop Championships with the Chicago Shag Team.
  16. I got arrested for underage dancing.
  17. I played my violin from memory in church when my pages were out of order.
  18. I got cast in three plays within a month of moving to New York.
  19. I moved to New York.
  20. I made life-long friends.
  21. I gave an epic best man speech at my best friend's wedding.
  22. I met Frank Turner.
  23. I spent a summer in Los Angeles.
  24. I went to Comic Con. Twice.
  25. I bought a car by myself.
  26. I raised the sweetest of all possible sweet cats.
  27. I built hats.
  28. I got my first Shakespearean tattoo done by a lovely Polish man in Dublin, Ireland.
  29. I made a dress out of paper clips and ribbon, and one out of playing cards.
  30. I saw David Tennant play Richard II, saw David Bowie play Fashion, saw Moby, saw Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (together and individually), saw Oingo Boingo, saw Tim Curry in Spamalot, saw Once in London.
  31. I played all of the women in As You Like It (except Rosalind) at the same time.
  32. I turned my year-long experiment with veganism into a 15-year (and counting) lifestyle change.
  33. I broke someone's heart.
  34. I got my heart broken.
  35. I went into the ring at a capea. 
  36. I voted for the first African American president of the United States. Twice.
  37. I wrote and directed a musical for children.
  38. I did a touring puppet show.
  39. I faced my fears of speaking in public and singing in public and interacting with other humans so that I could become and actor and a musician whose videos and music have been seen and heard around the world.
  40. I made people laugh.
Most of this stuff is not the kind of stuff that anyone else would look at and think anything of. It's not a resume that will land me in a hall of fame or win me awards. But I have done a lot with my life - this is by no means an exhaustive list. I'm not done with it, but I haven't been sitting around doing nothing. And considering that I started my life so scared of everything and so painfully shy, the fact that I am who I am now is pretty remarkable.

I'm not going to make a list of the next forty things I have to do before I turn 80. I'm going to see where my life takes me and hope for the best.