Have you ever — to the shock and horror of everyone you know — turned your back on a job you’ve been at for many years to do something completely different with your life?
Did you ever reach a point when you decided “damn the torpedoes and anything or anyone else, I’m going to start saying exactly how I feel — maybe even those things I shouldn’t say?”
Or, have you looked around lately and thought about the fragility of life and how beautiful it is, however fleeting, and just lingered luxuriously in the luck of the moment?
If not, it’s likely because you’re less than 40 years old, but that’s OK, you’ll probably get there, so keep reading, this column is still for you.
Post-40 (which I think most folks consider “midlife” though people are reportedly living much longer than they used to), what you realize is: Time is the most precious thing.
This is why, for example, I recently decided after a 25-year hiatus from the joys of skateboarding that it was well-nigh time I got back in the saddle again. Initially, I have to say this decision did not go over well with my wife and, as it concerns my mom, well, she’s just finding out, um, now.
(So, as you know, mother) I am not completely reckless, and in addition to buying a new skateboard, I also bought a helmet and knee pads, but not, sadly, elbow and wrist pads — both highly recommended safety apparatuses — especially for middle-aged men aiming to get back in the skateboard game.
Now (with the exception of my poor cringing mother), you’re probably jumping ahead savagely (and perhaps gleefully) conjuring up images of me all bandaged up with a fractured clavicle or a broken wrist or elbow, but nope, it wasn’t that bad.
What happened was: On my first foray out of my driveway, I had just mounted the skateboard when having momentarily lost the feng shui of skateboarding — just momentarily, mind you — I fell backward right in front of a young teenager who lives on my street; he was on his hoverboard and happened to be cruising by.
As the young man eyed me sternly and, to his credit (and my ego’s relief), did not laugh in my face, I thought to myself this may be the dorkiest moment I have ever had.
Refusing to acknowledge the shooting spasm of pain or small trickle of blood creeping down my elbow, I immediately popped back up on the board gazing stoically at the brooding teen in a vain attempt to maintain my credibility.
The young man maintained his steely-eyed composure, not even smirking as he and his hoverboard disappeared into his house.
It’s been two weeks now, and the scab on my elbow has almost healed. I’ve also added new elbow and wrist pads to my skateboarding gear. I feel confident enough that I skateboard now whenever I shop locally — it’s simply amazing how many groceries you can stuff into a backpack and still maintain equilibrium on the board.
If I’m honest, I’m not very good; certainly, I’m nowhere near as good as I remember being when I was the same age as my teenage hoverboarding neighbor. But you know what? It’s fun. And that’s why I’m doing it. That’s the only reason why.
By the way, I may be getting older, but isn’t that hoverboarding business just some high-tech way to cheat at skateboarding?
(Stephen Cooper is a former D.C. public defender who worked as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama between 2012 and 2015. He has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States and overseas. He writes full-time and lives in Woodland Hills, California.
Follow him on Twitter @SteveCooperEsq