Apologies for the radio silence. I promise I’m not dead. In fact, I’ve never felt more alive. Aside from so many people passing away, even more being sick, and the supermarket shortages, I think this is awesome! I’m one of those persons who’s been practicing social distancing for his entire life.
Spring break was the second week in March, and during that time, the administration decided to close the campus and transition all classes to an online format for the rest of the semester. My homework assignments are already completed online, so the only issue was my lectures. Every week, I had a task of taking a couple of my PowerPoint presentations, and recording narrations for each of them. I had a few assignments I had to grade manually, and I had to convert some of my exams to an online format. I was in my element. I’d wake up whenever I felt like it, fix a hearty breakfast, complete my “to do” list for the day, then spend the rest of my day doing whatever I wish. Sometimes, I’d read on my back patio with my cats stalking about the yard and occasionally wanting head scratches. Other evenings, I’d pull my cars out of my garage and get some exercise. After doing one or other (or both) of the aforementioned, I’d fix some dinner, followed by playing Rocket League or watching Hulu.
I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s emotional distress from the isolation, but this is easy mode to me. I had to spend two-and-a-half years living with my cantankerous, garbage hoarding father in rural South Georgia during the recession. He only had DSL lite, too. That was just enough internet speed to login to Facebook and see all my friends not being unemployed losers, but not enough to distract myself with YouTube. Without a paycheck, I had very little money for any other form of recreation. There were times I would start buffering a video, go do my workout for an hour in the driveway, then comeback to indulge what meager escape I was allowed. Sometimes, my laptop would go to sleep, and I’d have to wait another hour to buffer a 20-minute video; very expletive inducing under those circumstances. Now, I have my own clean, orderly place without the difficult housemate, and enough data for as much entertainment as I like, along with a steady paycheck. While my grocery stores are experiencing some shortages and have had to implement rationing of some goods (for example, 1 carton of eggs per customer), I live in a semirural area, so my supermarkets get more than enough for me to cook whatever I’d like, but none of the lines to enter that wrap around the building. I love my job, but I’m wondering if I should seek out a full time telecommute position in the near future.
Things seem to be resuming a degree of normalcy. My gym reopened on Friday, and my campus is only closed until April 30th, so this week will be my last of this extended “vacation.” Summer classes might have to be taught online; a final decision is yet to be made, but I doubt the faculty we’ll be allowed to continue telecommuting.
I’ve had plenty of time to reflect as well. Maybe the additional time is the cause of the following, but it probably was inevitable. I think I’ve hit my midlife crisis. It’ll be a pretty introspective one. While others like to distract themselves from their problems or existential crises, I’m the type who likes to lean into it. I’m similar to my dad in that regards, but I think I do in a healthy manner. My dad wanted to dwell on the problem and be miserable for as long as possible. I like to let the ordeal wash over me as a means of getting passed it. “The only way out is through,” as someone else once put it. Whereas other guys hit their midlife crises and buy flashy cars they don’t need and, possibly, can’t afford, or spend a robust amount of money in some other vain attempt to recapture their youths, I’d rather spend time in quiet meditation on the subject. A much better approach, in my opinion.
My students are the other, more instrumental, factor that’s likely caused it. Most of them are young. Some are high school students taking dual enrollment classes, but the majority are in that early twenties range. I talk to them about their future plans and their aspirations, and I’m forced to face that my greatest opportunities have likely passed me by. I’ll never get to be an FBI agent, or work for Interpol to take down human traffickers or illegal arms dealers. I’ll never be some multi-millionaire executive manager of a business. I’ll probably never get married, and if I do, I’ve already missed out on the experience of being married while in my twenties, when the physical attraction is intoxicating and you just can’t get enough of each other. I’m definitely not going to be able to move around the world and live in exotic and interesting places. I can travel, sure, but that’s not the same as living in those places for period of time. I’m settled now. I don’t even have a lot of stuff, but I still don’t want to pack it up while going through the hassle of organizing a new living arrangement. My cats didn’t appreciate moving 70 miles down the road. I can’t imagine how they’d take moving to another state or country.
Anyways, I see my students going on to the phase of their lives where they have those choices, and it forces me to think about opportunities missed, chances not taken, things that never will be. It definitely creates a desire to turn back the clock and get a do-over. All that said, my final conclusion is that I wouldn’t take that do-over if offered. This is the tradeoff. When you’re young, you have possibilities along with the passion and energy to make them a reality. You hit your late thirties and forties, and if you’ve made good choices, you have comfort and convenience. I have my own place. I’ve paid off all my debt. I have a significant amount of my paycheck left each month for saving and spending as I see fit. I wouldn’t want to give those things up. I can’t because it’s not possible, so it’s good that I wouldn’t, but even if I could, I like the perks that come from that expended time.
If a supernatural being offered me to the chance to rewind to 22 years of age, I’d politely decline. Actually, no, I’d try to bargain. Let me remain 38 with all its aforementioned accoutrements, but just let me have my right knee and left shoulder from prior to 30 and my hairline from when I was 17. I’d guarantee that they’d never be taken for granted.