Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This is 40! Redefining Middle Age

me on my 25 mile run.

So I turned 40 the other day, a big milestone in my life.  Definitely a time of reflection, I can't help look at my life and ask the question, am I where I want to be at 40?  For the most part my answer to the question is an emphatic Hell Yes!  I feel healthier than ever in my life, with my diet dialed in, regular exercise, rest, my art career is pumping along and I love my day job, which is teaching sculpture to college kids.  I feel most of the time, really really good.  I'm not suffering from any health issues, depression or anything like that.  This is not to say things are perfect, actually the biggest progress I've made in the last 20 years is realizing life is never going to be perfect, I'm never going to be perfect and I am never going to do anything perfectly.  What matters, I think, is the spirit with which you do things, that is what people respond to, the spirit of the thing.  Whether it is my art, my running, my efforts at being a good father, husband, teacher, it is the spirit with which I go about these tasks that people respond to and remember.

Me playing the banjo

So earlier this year I was out on a long run and had a thought jump into my head, I want to learn to play the banjo.  I am a big fan of bluegrass music, since my college days in North Carolina, and I just love the driving rhythmic sound that the banjo adds. I've played the guitar on and off (mainly off) since I was 12 years old and so far it really feels like I am building off of this base really nicely.  So I have been playing the banjo now for 3 weeks and I am having a blast.  I don't know what it is about the banjo, but I have gotten so many invitations to play with other people since I posted on my facebook that I am learning the banjo, this never happened with the guitar.  Last week (two weeks into the banjo experiment) I got together with a friend who plays the mandolin and jammed for a couple hours at his house, it was a freakin' blast and I left there totally on fire.  The collaborative energy was flowing and just so inspiring.  I am really glad I did not listen to that little voice in my head telling my not to play with other people after only playing for two weeks.  I am really glad I pushed that ego based voice aside and went into the experience looking to have fun and not so worried about how it made me look.

On my birthday, I woke up early and ran 25 miles (40 km), then I brought my kids to Volta, an art fair where I was having a solo exhibition with Mixed Greens Gallery, and also I had a t-shirt for sale with Imperfect Articles, a company that collaborates with artist to make creative apparel.

me and the kids at my Volta show with Mixed Greens Gallery

 My shirt with Imperfect Articles

That evening I had a vegan potluck.  My friends, some vegetarian, none vegan, were good sports and brought some really delicious food for us to share and my wife made a couple of really amazing dishes and a vegan banana cream pie.  Kind of going back to my last post questioning what would be the most affective/least obnoxious vegan advocacy  I gotta say my vegan potluck birthday party seemed to be a pretty great solution.  I mean what better way to demystify the whole vegan food experience than to ask people to make or find a vegan dish to bring to the party and then have them eat what all the delicious food they brought. 

One of the funniest birthday presents I received was a whole package of "birthday cake" Oreos with the filling removed.  I had a conversation with my friend Julie about how I like Oreos, but hate the filling, and she said she likes the filling but hates the cookies.  I was confused when she gave me a packet of Oreos as a birthday present, but died laughing the next day when my daughter opened the package and was completely confused.

me eating an Oreo
The best Oreo I've ever had

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