Monday, September 11, 2017

Who Am I?

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be Superman. I mean, what could be better than that? Even the Fortress of Solitude seemed very appealing to my naive imagination.

But it would have required moving to another planet with less gravity and a different colored sun, and that seemed impractical. Batman, being an ordinary man, was much more within reach, but I learned that he had a gym in the Bat Cave and worked out a lot.

A little later, I wanted to be the Beatles. Anyone one of them would do, but I think John was the preferred choice. I spent hours strumming on badminton rackets and drumming on overturned wastebaskets to prepare for this.

At about the same time, I wanted to be James Bond. I guess I was a confirmed Anglophile. Why not both? I could be a secret agent who is also an international rock star. That was the perfect cover.

Of course, back then, I thought the idea of supervillains bent on destroying the world was just fiction.

After that, the ambitions became more mundane: astronaut, genius, groundbreaking psychologist. (Somehow, sports star never made it onto my list.)

I started to realize that it’s not who you are, but what you do that counts. (Boy, was I dumb!) Then I didn’t want to be someone else. I just wanted to be like them. I wanted to write like James Joyce (though I had never finished one of his books.) I wanted to be a multimillionaire cartoonist like Charles Schulz. (I had read all of his books.) I wanted to be a great actor, like Laurence Olivier or Dustin Hoffman. And I wanted to be a great artist, like Picasso but less weird.

By the end of high school, I got into the whole universe thing and wanted to be a physicist. Once I got to college, though, I saw that the theater people were having much better parties than the physics people. Plus, there are way more famous actors than physicists.

After college, I moved back in with my parents, which convinced me it was time to get a job of some kind. At the time, it was very easy for a theater major with a tiny bit of computer programming to get a job as a software developer. (Still is, I think.) So, that was that.

Software development was great fun at first. I got to type things that would make tapes spin and stuff appear on the screen. But after a while, I realized I was writing the same things over and over again. Stuff I had done in Fortran now had to be written in Pascal. Or C. Or C++. Or Java. Or PostScript. Or JavaScript. Luckily, I was only 40 years from retirement.

But now, a little more than 4 years into the cancer journey (the currently vogue term for this nightmare), I realize there was only one thing that mattered. Despite all those aspirations, there was only one thing that I had to do. When I assess my life, there is only one question I have to answer.

Did I give enough love?

Sorry. It’s the drugs talking.

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