Who Is That Man In The Mirror?


I was supposed to be a rock star. I was supposed to be successful. I was supposed to pull my family out of poverty. I was supposed to be the hero. This did not occur, obviously. Instead, I’m still struggling and fighting just to make ends meet, while still attempting to enjoy the basic comforts of living. It was already difficult to begin with. MS has made it even more so.

These days, I barely even recognize the guy I see when I look in the mirror. The guy I see staring back at me isn’t someone I ever thought I would have even come close to turning into. The guy I see in the reflection has short, respectable hair. He is bespectacled. He has protein shakes for breakfast. You would not assume, looking at him, that this man has done anything out of the ordinary in his younger life. He doesn’t socialize all that much. He likes to stay home. He is tired, frustrated, and lacks a feeling of purpose. He is not the man I thought I was destined to become. He seems like a stranger. Yet, there he is in my bathroom, looking me up and down and wondering what he might have done differently to better the situation he is in today.

This might seem, to most, like a simple whine session. Whiny or not, it’s how I feel. I hadn’t planned to do anything but play music professionally, until the day I died. Which, subsequently, I honestly thought would happen sometime while I was in my thirties. Honestly! I never expected to venture much into my  forties, if at all. Let alone head into my late forties! Here I am, though, a week away from forty-six, speeding toward fifty! Which, in itself is not all that disturbing to me………..that is, until I look at my financial situation……and  my current income……….and my health situation………….etc, etc, etc.

A couple of days ago, I was re-watching a movie I hadn’t seen in a long while, and had really enjoyed. Adam Sandler’s ‘The Wedding Singer’. It’s still funny as hell! (Side thought; What the hell happened to him? His movies just aren’t funny any longer!) I mentioned I hadn’t seen it in a long while. It has to be coming close to a couple of decades since I had. Several things hit me quite differently since the last time I watched it. Right at the beginning, for instance, when his fiancee shows up at his residence the day after she stood him up at the altar, she gave a reason why she didn’t want to marry him. She said that she loved the Robbie (Sandler’s character name.) from six years earlier. The lead singer of an aspiring rock band, whom she loved watching perform in his spandex pants. Not the current Robbie. A wedding singer. Ouch! That hurts. He had actually been enjoying his current employ. He had, in fact, knew he was damn good at it. He was known as the best around! This actually set up a hilarious Sanlder-esque reaction from Robbie, who emphatically exclaims that the information would have been good to know before the day after their wedding day. I personally think a lot sooner would be more appropriate, but that’s just opinion.

Now, for the rest of the movie, they follow Robbie as he inadvertently falls for Julia (Drew Barrymore). A server who works with the catering service which handles many of the same events he works.  She is already engaged to a rich asshole of an individual who obviously doesn’t love her. She, in turn, is falling in love with Robbie, as he helps her plan her wedding, since he has so many connections and knowledge due to his career. At one point, Robbie is led to believe that the only reason she is marrying the cad is for financial security. He decides he’s been wrong all his life, helping others by volunteering his time as a music coach for old women, and taking low paying gigs while living in his sister’s basement. He heads to the city to get a ‘real’ job so that he can afford more material things, but fails hilariously. By the end of the film, though, Julia ends up realizing that the man she is engaged to is not what she wants out of a marriage partner. She wants someone who has passion. She wants someone who cares more about spending time with her rather than making money. She wants someone who lives life for love.  Both Robbie and Julia end up following their hearts, and, of course, end up together. They live happily ever after……or so you assume.

What happens in the years to come?

We don’t get to see that. We don’t get to see what happens twenty years down the line. We don’t get to see if they continue to be happy living on a very limited budget. We don’t get to see if they continue to have the good luck of good health, or if they go deep into poverty after one, or both of them, get sick without being able to afford health insurance. We don’t get to see what might happen if they are never able to move above their current income rate. We just assume that the love that they have found is stronger than all of the challenges ahead of them. We are simply thrilled with the fact that Robbie wins Julia’s heart and hand (for good, we assume) on the flight she was taking to Vegas, with the intent to elope with the rich cad who didn’t love her. He wrote her a song. The only currency he had was music, and that’s what won the day.

Now, surprisingly, situations like that aren’t totally fantasy. They happen. The fantasy comes in the form of what our imaginations conjure up representing the ‘happily ever after’. No matter how difficult the film makes of the challenge of the star couple finally getting together, what comes after the roll of the credits is the real test. Making the original decision to choose love over stability is easy in comparison. When you are young and healthy. When everything is fresh and new. Yes! Choose love!………Easy. The real challenge is everything that comes with that decision. It isn’t easy. It isn’t always fun. Both sides of the scenario face struggles.

I know this from experience. Jen and I began our life together when I was making a pretty damn good play at becoming a successful career musician. At the time, I still believed that was the only career path I would ever have in my lifetime. Of course, as you know, this hasn’t come to be. Every day, Jen deals with being the main breadwinner in our lives. Every day, I deal with the guilt that I can’t contribute equally. Every day there is the chance that one of us might wonder what might have been different if we had chosen a different path. Yet, everyday, we continue to chose love. Our love for each other. And don’t be mistaken. It is a choice. Not the loving each other part, but the staying together part. Especially when times are tough. You see, that isn’t what a movie like ‘The Wedding Singer’ ever shows us. Yes, it is difficult to make that first leap following one’s heart. The movies show you that. Rarely do they show us that once you make that first leap, there is another, and another, and another. Most movies let your imagination assume the ‘happily ever after’ comes easily. They let you assume that the hard part is over. The true fact is, it doesn’t necessarily get easier. Sometimes, the leaps keep coming, and continue to be just as difficult each time, each day, each year. The real ‘happily ever after’, isn’t always happy. Sometimes, it’s a fight (often with one’s self). In real life, not the movies, real love learns this.

The simple fact of the matter, is……I am not the same person I was when Jen and I met. Today’s me is so different than the ‘me’ sixteen years ago, I don’t even recognize me. My life is less exciting, more problematic (health wise, at least), and less promising for the future. So far, though, she sticks with me, so I’m very lucky and thankful for that. But, as many MSers will tell you, I do miss ‘me’ often. I had more energy back then. I had more hope back then. I had more focus back then. I had more confidence back then. And I was much more driven.  I just wish I could visit that guy every once in a while, but I believe he might be gone for good. The future is not written as of yet, so I’m not certain. So……………who knows?

Alright. My gibber-jabber is at it’s conclusion for this week. Hope to see you next!

 

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