To paraphrase one of Black Sabbath's worst songs (and there aren't too many), at this time in my life I'm going through changes. I've been trying to identify a catalyst for what appears to be a sudden and totally unexpected burst of personal development (if development is in fact the correct word here) but, aside from a diabetes diagnosis three months ago that has forced my hand to lose weight (26lb and counting), I really cannot work out what it is. All I know is I'm increasingly feeling the need to express myself in ways I have not previously, and that I've become even more acutely aware of the brevity of the average lifespan, so want to ramp things up considerably to cram even more in than I already do, while I can, before it's too late. Maybe it is that simple - that I feel mortal?
Considering my age, some might see this as a midlife crisis. I don't, simply because I am not in crisis. I'm extremely happy with most areas of my life, the only real things of concern or disgruntlement being ongoing health irritations (though I'm feeling great at the moment) and perhaps wanting more from my working life. Otherwise, I'm happier than I've ever been. No, it's definitely not a midlife crisis, but something else entirely.
So, what are these changes? Well, they're not earth-shattering in any way, shape or form, but they are changes nonetheless. For example, yesterday I shaved off the goatee I've had for eighteen years. Susan had never seen me without it, and although I'd said to her a few weeks ago that I would do it 'soon' so she finally could, I had no plan to do it on any given day. I just looked at myself in the mirror yesterday morning and started scraping it off. I left a small clump of whiskers beneath my lower lip, which looks kinda fun, otherwise it's all smooth for the first time since I was 35-years old. Susan stared at me for most of the day, wearing a fascinated smile. No-one in Nanaimo has ever seen me without the goatee, so that's just the start of it, I guess! My face certainly looks very different as a result, a fact that even interested me, as it has changed so much since I was last clean-shaven.
And on Canada Day, when enjoying windswept reverie at the bow of the Coastal Renaissance ferry, returning from Vancouver on a beautiful summer day, I suddenly decided that at the age of 53 I wanted to get some tattoos. In celebration of the day I had a temporary maple leaf tattoo on the right side of my right leg, which looked great, but I was not entertaining a permanent one of that design. It was the word 'today' that would not leave my mind, a word I decided I must get tattooed somewhere on my body so I would see it every day. Why 'today'? It goes back to my current feeling of life being in sharp focus: I cannot do anything about the past and have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but today I can do something about my life; I can seize it and run with it if I want to. That feels very important to me right now.
When I told Susan I wanted to get a tattoo or two, I thought she'd hate the idea. On the contrary, she thought it was great, and asked what I had in mind. When I told her she understood completely, saying I should get ink that meant something to me...like a maple leaf, for example! Wow. That's my girl. I knew as soon as she suggested it that it was another tattoo I should also get. Anyway, I've decided upon three, being 'today', the maple leaf (in exactly the spot the temporary one was) and a song lyric from Joe Strummer that, in the wake of so much serious illness in my life, metaphorically perfectly sums up how I want to approach the rest of my days: I wanna live and I wanna dance awhile.
And, at long last (as it's bewildered everyone aware of my 36 years in the music industry that I haven't) I want to learn an instrument! So, we bought ourselves a lovely Makala MK-T tenor ukulele, as it's as good a place as any to start, no?
I'm sure more changes are coming, and I'm excited to make them when they come. Who knows who I will be after all this subsides, if indeed it does. As things stand I'm really enjoying what is a mild and steady organic reinvention, driven on by some unknown, evidently mischievous force. It's taken me by surprise, but I welcome it and am curious where it is all headed. Wish me luck on this journey!