Just Making It Up As I Go Along.

Posted by admin on June 16, 2011 in Life Lessons |
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As I was sitting here thinking about what to write about today, I thought, Hey, I’ll just make it up as I go along.” And it suddenly it hit me that I think I’ve been doing this all my life.

When asked what I do for a living, I always say, “I sit at home, make stuff up and people send me checks.” It’s an odd way to make a living, really. I don’t have a tangible product or service that you can hold in your hand. Whatever pours out of my head and onto a piece of paper (well, a computer screen these days) is what my entire livelihood is based on.

I guess not much has changed. When I was wee lad, I would sit at home and make stuff up. I was the only one on my street that was my age. I was at the tail-end of the Baby Boomers on NE 28th St. The nearest friend was Alan Eades, one busy street over, and Mike Culver who lived at the bottom of the hill by Kennydale Elementary.

As such, I was left to play on my own most of the time. By the time I was 10, my next oldest brother was 14 and he was already head long into girls and electronics. What use was he?

This was fine with me. I was blessed with a very robust imagination and play time was filled with endless adventures and explorations, not only of the world around me, but of my own mind.

Back then, I could actually inject myself into the play, being right there with the soldiers who were on the march into enemy territory on the playroom floor. In our woods, which occupied the back half of the yard, I could kill an entire day fighting invisible enemies, tossing pine cone grenades to “soften them up a bit” before blazing into the fray with my ever present Mattel tommy gun.

When it came to building stuff, I had all the Tonka construction equipment a kid could want, thanks in part to three older brothers who had outgrown theirs. I couldn’t settle for dirt roads. Mine were actual concrete, which I would regularly break up, set up a detour and rebuild with my ever present wheelbarrow of cement.

I was never really alone. I had myself and that danged imagination of mine that could take me anywhere, any time, to be anything I wanted to be.

In school, making it up as I went along became RobZerrvations. I started them in high school and in college I perfected the craft of being an hour away from deadline, not having a clue what to write, only to sit down at the typewriter and write whatever came out of my head. First draft, that was it. Off it went to press.

Even though many years have passed since and I’ve gone through the many stages of my life, I am still just making it up as I go along. I’m not referring to the things I make or dream up, either. I’m talking about my life.

A couple days ago I posted the quote, “If you live a predictable life you risk living an ordinary one. Only by choosing an unpredictable life can it become extraordinary.”

Mine has certainly been unpredictable. Here I am, sitting by the beach, writing this column. Who would have thought 10 and certainly 20 years ago that I would have this great view of the beach, let alone still be writing for a living or ending up in Florida for that matter?

I know a lot of people who have been planning for their Golden Years since they were in their 20s. That’s all fine and good. But for me it’s totally off target. I don’t have the luxury of a big retirement package or even a lot of bucks in the bank. Following your own stars and doing what you “like” instead of what you “have to” has a price attached to it. And it can be a hefty one. Every dime I’ve earned has gone back into the business at various times, so retirement isn’t an option for me.

That would freak out a lot of my friends. But there’s no guarantee I am ever going to be in my 70s, 80s or even 90s. I’d have to be really full of myself to think that any moment beyond right now is guaranteed. I can’t even guarantee tomorrow. So how full of myself would I be to think that I can plan for a day that’s 20 or 30 days down the road. One that may never come. That’s pretty narcissistic.

My father was 57 when he died. My brother, 24. People around me are dropping dead all the time, never reaching their Golden years and all the money they saved and all the things they sacrificed in their youth to get that pile of cash was for naught.

They were so busy keeping an eye on the finish line that they forgot to enjoy the run through the beautiful countryside. Unfortunately for us, the finish line is constantly moving. The end of the race could be a long ways off. Or it could be just around the bend. We never have the luxury of knowing when the race is done before it is.

I know only one thing. Life is damned short. I’ve wasted a lot of my youth on such nonsense, selling my soul for a promotion that never came, a job that was never really secure and relationships that sucked the very life out of me because I was too scared to call it quits.

I am proud to say that I have finally taken my hands off the wheel. I’m simply going to continue to make it up as I go along. I think really, deep down, that’s our only choice. Life has a funny way of slapping you silly every time you try to do something you’re not meant to do. Control is merely an illusion.

Yet for some reason we continue to choose to swim upstream against the current because we think we’ll get somewhere eventually. We don’t, of course. Instead, we just ge tired and worn out.

Me? I think I’m just going to hop up on the old inner tube and let the river of life take me wherever I’m meant to go. It’s a much more pleasant journey, that’s for sure.

Out on the Treasure Coast, trying to think about what I’m going to make up today,

– Robb

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