Monday, March 31, 2014

A Man On Fire

A Man On Fire.  That's been my online profile description ever since I created my online presence several years ago.  It was conceived expediently to convey my core essence without divulging any public information about myself.  As I ponder expanding my profile description, I thought I'd examine my current one more closely.

A Man On Fire was adopted to convey the urgency of my passions.  Those include my passion for writing and my passion for living.  When you're on fire, it's urgent.  The flames burn brighter each passing moment, culmination is unknown.  As the fire grows, so does the urgency.  I hope to exit in a fierce, fiery blaze when the fire finishes with me, something like a Phoenix, I guess.

It wasn't always this way.  I think the fire started shortly after my sister-in-law passed away after valiantly battling cancer.  I always thought she'd prevail, but was forced to reexamine the frailty of life and our time to live it.  I realized how many things I had procrastinated about, or avoided altogether as a result of low confidence.  I decided to change that if I could, without knowing quite how.  I didn't realize yet that I had been set on fire.

I inadvertently became a local activist.  I started a career in real estate alongside my occupation.  I started to learn guitar.  Still unaware, the fire continued to grow.

A life-changing business trip to Vail made me aware.  I returned home with new perspective and for the first time, discovered I was on fire.  My instinct told me to stop, drop and roll to smother the flames, but I didn't.  Instead, I ran.  And I ran hard.

I resurrected my writing passion, leaped headlong into a unique run for local political office, and focused on building more meaningful relationships with everyone I knew.  More family and friends met their end along the way which galvanized my resolve to live life on purpose.  Be positive.  Encourage others.  Make a worthwhile daily difference.  Be more compassionate.  Write. Connect.  Share.  The fire engulfed me.

I turn 50 years old in a few weeks.  Though I'm healthy (except for the raging fire,) I'm aware of the limited time that fire can continue to burn, even if I get the reasonable life expectancy.  I'm as motivated as ever to fan the flames.  Every single day is still a challenge to live up to my self-imposed expectations.  I often fail.  I'm not deterred.  As I said, as long as I go out in a blaze, I've succeeded.

So, despite still being A Man On Fire, I'm likely to revamp my profile description a bit to include some literal explanation of my passions.  My ultimate hope is that as my last spark flickers, it ignites someone else. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Dinosaur Age

Online, appearances can be deceiving.  For example, I'm not new.  In fact, I'm old.  Older than younger.  More than halfway to dead.  Someone recently referred to me as a Renaissance Man.  The Renaissance happened ages ago so I think they were really just cleverly calling me an Old Man.

I should've seen it coming years ago when technologies overlapped and I was in line to purchase some last vinyl records at the record store, when the kid behind me in line asked, "What are those?" I replied, "Records." To which he said in all seriousness, " listen to them once and then throw them away?"

One thing I'm certainly not is new.  I'm pre-PC. I'm pre-digital.  I'm pre-cable TV.  I'm Mr. Analog.  I grew up listening to transistor AM radio, watching 3 channels of black & white TV, talking on a rotary phone tethered to the kitchen wall, and playing vinyl records.  45's, 78's, and 33 1/3's.  I'm far from new.  I am a dinosaur.  But don't expect my extinction anytime soon.  I have adapted.  And I have a context that new people don't.  Dinosaurs once ruled the world.  Perhaps they might again.

I seamlessly listen to mp3's on my iPod, or to cassettes, CD's, and even vinyl LP's.  I play the original Coleco Vision, Atari, and Nintendo game systems I grew up with but can hold my own in any computer generated medieval bloodfest.  I type on a manual Royal typewriter.  That means ribbons, white out that isn't a liquid, and a return that is an actual handle.

While a relative newcomer to social media, I'm battle-hardened from my experiences in various forums, but even more so by in-the-trenches interaction of actual human contact.  All of which pre-date social media like FB or Twitter.  It's somewhat amusing to me to be "advised" or even outright threatened on these new virtual outlets.  It astounds me what people will do or say electronically that they wouldn't dare dream of in-person.  That is not a recipe for survival.  I wonder how long until the evolutionary cycle of social media relegates it to the rotary phone scrap heap and where all the self-important experts with no context will wind up?  At the lightning speed technology advances, the answer may turn up before the end of this post!

No, I'll never quite be new again.  I'm weathered.  I'm seasoned.  I've been through the fire.  Heck, apparently I've been through the Renaissance!  Yes, I am in fact, a dinosaur.  Once a flesh-eating T-Rex, but now just a lumbering, plant-eating Brontosauras.  But have you ever seen the swath a Bronto cuts?  Old just might become the new new.