This I Believe

Glenn - Belvidere, New Jersey
Entered on July 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

On June 24, 2006, I walked out of the rain into the Split Crow Bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia; I was alone. I had never been to Halifax before that day. I have never been back.

I wrote on a bar napkin notes and an outline of essentially what follows, what had been swimming around my head for years. I just felt like writing it down, and it felt like the right place to do it. So I did.

That was 13 months ago.

I’m still around, the notes are still fresh, and the question still unanswered.

I believe a single day will quietly pass for me, unannounced, which will reckon as the zenith, the peak of my life; the day whereby whatever my lifelong achievements ultimately will be would have crested, my potential tapped…the succeeding days the downhill roll of the stone.

For an ambitious man, which I like to believe I am, when I look at my morning reflection, I convince myself that better days, more successful days, always lie ahead, no matter how I measure that success, be it financial, artistic, familial, whatever.

For me, like most I guess, the primary measuring rod is financial.

For an ambitious man without faith, which I am, since I have no belief in some greater purpose in the before, or the after, this self-inflection assumes utmost import, for outside divine providence, my self worth, my own image of accomplishment and legacy, is all I really have in the end, when the lights go out for good.

It’s maddening; how can I truly know with any sense of certainty if my best day has already passed.

Was it yesterday? Last week? Last year?

If so, any future efforts are futile – left only to those who survive me to realize.

And what if my day has passed? What if I could somehow know for sure?

I am 44 years old. Would I be content, armed with that knowledge, to bide my time in relaxed retreat? To live that glory day in my mind for the rest of my days, knowing it would never get better than that.

I don’t know the answer to that question…but I think not.

If I already shot my best shot…that would be pretty damn disappointing.

I would like to think that I could somehow change the day, that’s what an ambitious person should believe, right?

But I truly believe I can’t change it.

The manifestation of that fateful ‘best day’ represents the ultimate obstacle, for there is no cure, no recourse, for that de facto Rubicon.

I can’t move it; I can’t change it.

Prior to walking into the bar, I strolled in the mist along the Halifax Harbour bulkhead; I had it to myself – the dock area was empty in the stormy weather. As I stood at the edge of the water, I saw hundreds of moon jellyfish just below the water’s surface, drifting slowly in rhythym with the tide, pulsing to and fro. I felt an incredible sense of serenity and calmness in witnessing that dance…how nice it would be to simply embrace that adagio, and want nothing more.

But I do want more.

My life has been a mixed bag of success, more than most, I imagine… and mess; more than most, I’m sure.

But life is messy.

It’s funny, if I had it all to trade in, a ‘do-over’, but the do-over would mean my life would certainly spin in some other direction, and I wouldn’t have ended up in Halifax that day in June, 2006, recording these thoughts, and living the life I’ve had, I wouldn’t take another spin of the wheel. I’d still take the good with all the bad I’ve had, and stick with the cards in my hand.

I don’t believe that…I know that.

As for the Rubicon.

When I get up tomorrow morning and splash my face to greet the day, I’ll believe that my fateful day hasn’t arrived yet; that my clammer to reach the pinnacle, or at least a shelf higher than the one I’m sitting on now, is still worth running.

As of July 23, 2007, I believe my instinct is right, and that my race hasn’t already been run.

But a not-so-subconscious part of me also believes I’m kidding myself; that all that bravado is nothing more than wishful thinking.

I believe my rock is not already in motion…most days. Other days, some days, I see it resting at the bottom of the hill….and it has been sitting there for awhile.

When the latter passes the former, I guess I will have reached relaxed retreat. I don’t believe I want to be there.

I guess others, at some future date, will ultimately know the answer to that question.

And I doubt they’ll care about my rock; they have their own rocks to worry about.