The spooky chicks I dated in the ’90s used to tell me that the “Death” card in their Tarot decks wasn’t as ominous as it might’ve appeared. These images, no matter how much they looked like a page torn from William Blake’s dream journal, were meant to indicate “change.”
All these years on, I’m not sure I believe them. Consider how “change” is used in our culture: “Climate change,” for example, is one of those handy euphemisms for “the end of the world as we know it.” Or, “the earth has bipolar disorder,” but in a manner that doesn’t stigmatize when in polite company. But clearly, the earth is manic – in the course of a month in Sonoma County, a lightning storm (mere days after the summer solstice, mind you) started a forest fire, followed by a spate of skin-melting 100-degree days that turned the interior of my car into a pizza oven. And now, it’s overcast on July 19, the very day I’m turning 41.
We used to say, “Change is good,” and generally it is, or at least I’ve chosen to believe it is, since it’s going to happen anyway and ascribing it positive qualities gives me an illusory sense of control. For example, the hair once nearest the coronal sutures of my skull seems to be gone. This is good. Why? Because it’s change and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Those particular patches of hair had long bothered me, in fact, seeing as I’ve always wanted an Eddie Munster-style widow’s peak that started on the top of my head. What 41-year-old guy wouldn’t? It’s like a racing stripe on that “midlife crisis car” I’m not going to buy. Because I am the car – sleeker, faster, conspicuously overpriced and now more aerodynamic.
I’m in denial about age causing this change, so I’m going to blame it on climate change. That hair was seared off from the heat when I opened my pizza-oven-car-door to get a slice of Amy’s Vegan Margherita Pizza off the dashboard.
Yes, I just plugged my wife’s natural and organic foods company – not for household mandated brand-fidelity but because our freezer presently looks like we’re waiting out “World War Z.” This is the result of not understanding how many pizzas come in a “case” and an overzealous use of my wife’s employee discount. We also have a ton of frozen burritos. Consequently, my diet has changed radically these past weeks. I’ve gone from aspiring gourmand to a Jeopardy answer: “Foods most likely to be found in a dorm at UC Santa Cruz.”
I’m embracing the change. Because I have no choice. Or at least that’s my official story. Actually, that’s all crap – the kind of thinking that leads to Vichy France. And so far as I know, Amy’s doesn’t make an escargot pizza (being vegetarian and all), so I should just gut-up and do something about it all, like using the air conditioning to cool-off my in-car cooking experiments.
It seems there is the change we take and the change we make – we can only control one. As my brother’s old roommate Paul said when a panhandler asked for spare change: “Only you can make the change, man.” And, yes, Paul was kind of a dick.
So, today, I’m embracing the change – from 40 to 41, which, means mathematically, I’m back in my prime. In fact, I’m going to start using the Death card as my business card just to prove how awesome this change into prime-time can be. Because, what the hell else am I going to do? As Bowie so aptly put it, “Time may change me but I can’t trace time.”