[I drafted this poem in my journal on August 8 2001, and while I no longer feel the anxieties that plagued me at that time, these words have never really left me. I’ve made some changes, but have retained the majority of that original draft.]
I refuse to be the anti-hero
of a mid-budget Hollywood film
about a mid-life crisis afflicting a man
who’s decided he hasn’t been fulfilled.
I am not sure how I got this offer
but I decline this nomination
for Best Actor
simply because I’m not where I want to be.
I’ve won and I’ve lost.
I have thing I’ve always wanted
and felt joys I never anticipated.
And also found myself in situations
I had always wanted to avoid.
No, I’m not where I want to be.
But I am not The Pretender.
I am not Willie Loman.
My life is not a rejected draft for the script to “American Beauty.”
I refuse to accept the paradigms bestowed on me
by corporate America
by elitist critiques of middle-aged men
by radical critics of the system and its lackeys.
My life is not my credit limit
or my equity
or my bank account.
I refuse to be judged by the
amount of time I play with my kids,
or how frequently I
tell my wife I love her.
This might be just a psych job
to get me through today
without biting somebody’s
(Which isn’t a bad thing, mind you.
The psych job, that is.)
Yet I also see
and it is good to remind myself occasionally
that I need to live
my life for myself.
And I need to figure out
what living for myself means.
Either that, or work on my
for Best Actor
in a mid-budget Hollywood movie
about a man suffering a mid-life crisis.