Choices, Choices...

My friend Page Evans recently penned a piece in which she described doing something that she really didn't want to do but was afterwards glad she did.

As middle age sneaks up on me, I find myself confronting situations like hers all the time.  To do or not to do?  It is easier to stay at home than it is to fight the crowd, pay the price, and incur the hassle, but which choice makes life more enjoyable?  Depends on your perspective, I suppose.  Because my father died early and I felt that I had gotten a bad deal genetically, I used to be the guy that wanted to do everything.  If there was fun to be had, I wanted to be in the middle of it. I just about wore out my poor wife Shannon with my harebrained schemes and last-minute travel ideas. However, that guy has gone missing.

My perspective has tipped in favor of staying home, being low key, doing the things that require the least. I find that I have to remind myself  that I (we) should go and do while I (we) can because at some point I (we) won't, but my desire to be a part of it all has been pounded by the dual realities of declining vigor and fiscal restraint. This change is not necessarily a bad thing because with it has come the realization that, even with less time now to do all the things I want to do, I do what I want and don't worry that my life is less full because of the things I may miss.

Every year my friends in Virginia ask me if I am going to the Kentucky Derby. Every year I say no.  However, they ask a reasonable question. The Derby is indisputably the one thing for which Kentucky is most famous. I live an hour from Louisville and my wife's family is in the horse business.  Why not be part of the spectacle when the sports world focuses its attention on the Commonwealth for the two minutes and change that it takes to run the race? 

Look at all those people. Agoraphobia alert!
Why not indeed. I suppose I would if my affinity for racing matched my love of pro football.  I mean, who wouldn't go to racing's equivalent of the Super Bowl if it were held every year in your back yard?  Racing, however, baffles me and I am sorry to say that I have never fallen in love with the sport. As for the Derby, standing in a ten-minute line to use the rest room is too much for me. Being jamfu-ed in with 100,000 people for an entire day is too much for me. Sitting for hours in traffic is too much for me.  I have been to the Derby a few times and it was exciting, but not so much so that I feel like I have to go every year.  I went and experienced it and now can check it off on my "Things To Do At Least Once" list. 

I don't know whose list this is but I checked off #5 already.
On the other hand, when six years ago it was announced that the Rolling Stones were going to play a stadium show in Charlottesville, it took me all of two seconds to decide that it was something I wanted to be a part of despite knowing that I would have to drive six hours each way, that traffic would be a hassle, and that the crowds would be enormous.  Same set of issues, completely different outlook.  Since it was something I wanted to do and I am the boss of me, I decided to ask Shannon for permission.  Choices. 
One of aging's benefits has to be the realization that we come to grips with who we are and what makes us happy.  It's okay to slow down.  Staying home has definite appeal. I look forward to working in the yard, or to watching a movie with Shannon and any of our three children who can bear to spend that time with us. I prefer smaller groups, more intimate settings, less noise, less hassle. Now, I am not a hermit and I'll still have the occasional throwback throwdown, but I am less willing to pay the cover charge for such youthful pursuits. Waking up at 5AM with a my head in a vice and a mouth full of sand is not something that interests me any more. Not that often, anyway (I didn't want this article to be devoid of all credibility.)

Okay, may be I do stuff like this every once in a while. 
My Mod Squad uniform.  I think my hair did look like this for
real at some point in my life. 
The older I get the less willing I am to deal with the logistics of "live" anything–concerts, sporting events, worshipping at the 10,000-seat mega churches that appear to be the future of organized religion. Uh-Uh. Heck, even "live" shopping is an unattractive option when you can order online and get free shipping. Maybe I should blame 50-inch High Definition television for my seeming laziness, but for a lot of things the virtual reality of Hi-Def beats the actual reality.  I am open to new experiences but am less inclined to repeat those that don't do it for me.  And that's okay.


  1. Seward, you may think that middle age is creeping up on you. I think it has hit you over the head! I can say that because I share your sentiments in many respects. I never liked crowds, although I took a bus into NYC my freshmen year of college to see Simon and Garfunkle in Central Park (weel worth the trip and somehow managed to get myself back to Port Authority without being molested in any way). I hate shopping (thank you Fed Ex and UPS). I'd rather spend my time outside in the pseudo-wilderness of national and state parks than just about anywhere else (either alone or with my family, as long as they don't talk too much). Mostly, I cherish being home, which is why I spend so much time, energy and money getting it "right." My husband, John, reminded me of Sartre's saying last week, "Hell is other people." (He travels a lot and we both realized a long time ago living in NYC that public transportation, public anything sucks). So, with that said, I am signing off to have a home cooked meal (another subject entirely) with my daughter before we watch whatever movie she has recorded on our rather now antiquated HDTV).

  2. stones were worth it and they had the added bonus of a bomb scare, thru which NO ONE made for the exit! well written Seward! xo, patricia


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