by Shelt Garner
As I approach the milestone age of 50, I find myself dwelling, and even wallowing in, my own mortality. It’s clear that I have a limited number of time on this mortal coil and if I don’t do something of note soon then this is, well, is it. I will be only vaguely known for a failed expat magazine in Seoul.
I will leave material world unremembered and unloved.
So, I find myself trying to prioritize my time. I think that’s something that people my age do a lot, which is why it’s so difficult for us to date people younger than we are. When you’re in your 30s, it still doesn’t really register that you’re mortal and you could drop of a heart attack or a stroke at any moment.
I continue to want to get into fashion photography. But — and this is pretty deep — I’ve reached an age where the context of any success will be that I “was a success late in life.” It’s not like I have a career that lead any outsider to think, “Well, it’s obviously he would be a successful fashion photographer.”
All I have a hunch that I have a natural eye for beauty and, given the proper equipment, that I have a pretty good shot of becoming a photographer of note. Even though that is, obviously I am old. That’s probably the most jarring things about reaching my age — it slipped up on me. “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans,” is how John Lennon put it.
And this is very true.
Or, put another way, even if I get what I want, I won’t get what I want. Everything will be about how old I am and how I “came out of nowhere” to be a successful novelist or fashion photographer or both (hopefully.) I have just wasted way, way, way too much of my time grieving over ROKon Magazine and what happened in Seoul in general.
The key issue is, when such things are happening to you, you don’t really realize what’s going on. If I had a wife or a girlfriend to reflect my personality back to me, then maybe I would snapped out of my self-imposed mental jail a lot sooner.
But, you know, there comes a point when you can only mope about your lot in life for so long. I’m going to have to gird my loins for what is going to happen in my 50s sooner or later. When I’m feeling particularly optimistic, I think about how U.S. Grant was a drunk in the middle of nowhere for much of the 1850s until the Civil War gave him totally unexpected opportunities.
Then I do a gut check and think the only way I’d ever get that level of opportunity would be if, well, the end of the world came in some way — maybe via a Second American Civil War. And I definitely don’t want that. But I do believe there is a greater than zero chance that might happen.
Obviously, the more likely endgame would be autocracy. Then I have to figure out to avoid getting thrown out a helicopter by ICE.
No fate but what we make, as they say.