Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

30 August 2010

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

I recently posted about a motorcycle trip my friend Jacob and I took to Key West. It generated a response from another blogger, a guy also named Bob who I admire greatly. He wrote: “Sometimes I think you have the life I would have if I didn't have this one . . .”

This is a very odd thing to say, considering that I am so unsatisfied with my own life. Notice that I said unsatisfied not dissatisfied. There's a difference.

I know it must seem fun: flying helicopters and riding motorcycles and living a pretty free and easy lifestyle. And it is. But I have to admit that it leaves something to be desired. I just don’t know what. There is an emptiness...something missing. Lately, it’s been bothering me. A lot.

Back when I worked for Petroleum Helicopters I worked a week-on/week-off schedule. I had a motorcycle then, too. Often, I'd get home from work, strap my bags onto the Sportster and take off for a couple of days, roaming around, just traveling and seeing if I could get into some trouble. (I couldn't. It seems I am the most boring motorcyclist to ever come down the 'pike.)

Arriving home after one such "adventure" (heh), my mom phoned. After hearing of my trip she said...and I shit you not, this is exactly what she said, "Bobby, when are you going to stop having all this fun, settle down and get married?"

I let the crickets chirp for a while before replying. I finally said, "That's about right, huh? STOP having fun and get married."

She quickly backpedaled. "Ooooh, that's not what I meant," she said, genuinely chagrined. "Your father and I had lots of fun after we got married...just in a different way than when we were single."

Perhaps. Didn't look like it from where I stood, but I wasn't about to argue with her.

That was almost twenty years ago, amazingly. And not much has changed with me. I’m about to turn 56 years old. And you know what? I haven't really done anything with my life. Yeah, I’ve had a fun career, but there is more to life than work, no? And anyway, it is not our work that defines us. So, what does?

I have no family – not married, probably never will be. Honestly, I'm not even in the market for a relationship. I like living alone - which even I realize is messed-up. No kids. Good God, no kids! Some of us are just not parent material, and I’m one of them.

One of the women at work just had a beautiful baby girl. She brought the child in recently. All the other women in the place were going ga-ga over it - holding it, kissing it, loving on it – doing all that motherly stuff. When Jenny finally offered the baby to me I was, like, “Uhhhhhh no thanks. I…really…don’t…you know… “ I had no desire to hold her baby but at the same time I did not want to offend her. So I said I had a bad cold and went off, fake-coughing down the hall in another direction.

So it’s not that I long for a wife and kids and all that crap. I know that ain't me.

So what do I want out of life? For as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to be was a pilot. And I have achieved my childhood dream. I should be happy, right? So how come I’m not? Why do I feel like there’s something…else…I should be doing? Maybe childhood dreams aren't all they're cracked up to be. Problem: It’s getting late. There isn’t much time left to figure it out.

Deeper thinkers than I have pondered the question of “What is life?” George Harrison for instance, he wrote a song about it. And I just wonder if this is just all there is? We live each day: We work, we play, we laugh, we love…we do all the mundane things that get us by. And eventually we die. I'm doing it; my dad did it - as did his father as well, probably (I never knew him). His father’s father too, I’d imagine. The cycle repeats.

I hope my friend Bob is not unsatisfied. From his blog, he seems to have a wonderful life, full of happiness and joy and fulfillment. His incredible posts are so much fun to read. They always bring a smile - and sometimes a tear. I won't go so far as to say I wish I had his life, but I will admit that is surely doesn't seem like a bad one. When it's over, he will have nothing to be ashamed of and indeed, quite a lot to be proud of! I, on the other hand, will have a hard time answering St. Peter when he asks, quizzically tapping his clipboard with his pen, "Sooooooo...ahhhhh, what DID you do for humanity while you were down there? We really...ahhhh...have no record of you here."

This is not one of those “I’m so depressed I want to kill myself” posts. I actually like my life and am having a pretty good time. It’s just that you get to a point where you go, “What was I supposed to do again?” Because more and more I get the feeling that what I am doing isn’t it. I think I missed the assignment.

As usual.


Debby said...

You may not be cut out to be a parent, or even a husband for that matter, but you are cut out to want to do something for others. We all are. We were designed that way. We all want to matter, to make a difference. So decide where you want to make a difference. Then make one. Go on now. Get going. (And yes, you can ride your motorcycle there...)

Bob Barbanes said...

I hear what you're saying, Deb. My friend Jacob used to have a quote on his Facebook page that said, "If you want to do God's work, just go. Do something. God will direct you." And I thought, "That's about right! Don't wait for instructions first, they may be a long time coming."

The hard part, of course, is chucking everything and going somewhere else to do something else. We all have bills and responsibilities, and I'm not so impulsive that I can just pull up and go. Plus, I like it here.

The introspection continues...

Debby said...

God did not stick you where you wouldn't matter, Bob. It doesn't have to be some huge humanitarian effort that causes people to utter the name "Bob Barbanes" in the same awed tones as they say 'Mother Theresa'. Just make a deal. Every day, you will do something nice for somebody else. Just one thing. Eh. Maybe two... Get out there. Get started. You will find that it opens doors - within AND without. You will see the way to go. It will come clear.

You're one of those fellows that can't do a trip without an itinerary, aren't you? :^D

Bob said...

Interesting thoughts, Bob, and I appreciate your nod toward me. You're right, I do have a great life and I am most thankful.

Debby said what I was thinking. There's plenty of good things to do, and I don't see why you would have to leave where you are to do them.

And by the way, you give us all a great gift with your humorous and informative blog posts. I always look forward to them and read them with a smile. And yep, at times I envy you. I think that's just human nature.