Favorite

The Observer turns 40 

The Observer turned 40 years old over the weekend, a milestone for sure, only a number, but a daunting one. The oldsters in the audience are sure to be wistfully breathing: "Ye Gods! To be 40!" Meanwhile, the youngsters are undoubtedly saying the same thing, only with awe and dread. A middle place, then, somewhere between youngster and oldster. Middle aged? Probably, though you'll never hear us admit it until we're piloting a tennis-ball-footed walker. Nobody likes to say they're in the middle, except those who are getting on toward the end.

The Observer isn't so sure what to think about all this arithmetic. We clearly remember asking Ma on our 10th birthday: "I wonder where I'll be when I'm 40?" The Cubserver and Ma not even being able to fathom where things might be in the faraway age of 2014, not able to even comprehend what color the jetpack in the garage and the robot dog in the back yard of our flying saucer-shaped house might be, not sure what we'd call our mechanical housekeeper. Back in 1984, there was even a chance that we'd be nowhere, nuked to Jubilee by some vodka-tanked Russian premiere, or burned to a crisp by the hole in the ozone layer, whose edges were being constantly nibbled by the fog from a jillion cans of Aquanet and folks who made a religion out of the higher the hair, the closer to God.

Somehow, though, The Observer made it. Ten years old was long ago and far away, my friends. And now, to be here, shipwrecked in this far, jetpackless future, in no more than the length of time it took to fish a mote of summer fluff from our 10-year-old eye. At 40, you realize how quickly it all moves, quicker than a falcon at wing, and that's what fills you with dread in the ebb of the night: How quickly the years will move between now and the inevitable, unknowable end.

If you let those years move so quickly, we suppose. There are ways to slow it down, of course. Life is all memory and anticipation, the past and the future, the present swirling past you always like a stone in the river, so swift of current that the beginning of this sentence will be receding into the past before you hit the period at the end, the future out there somewhere, delicious, pulling you along, making you wonder what damn fool thing Yours Truly will say before we hit the end of this sentence: fire truck, steamboat, papaya, Geronimo. The way to slow it down is just to truly live, which is harder than it sounds. The Observer tries like hell to pull that one off sometimes and doesn't cut the mustard, crashing instead in front of the TV with 57,000 movies or the bottomless Internet (the time-sucking wonders of the future, young sir!), only to look up hours later to realize it's midnight, another irredeemable day quietly slipped over the edge of the world while we stared at reruns of "The Sopranos." We are, as a lot, entirely too interested in the products of the imaginations of other people, and not nearly interested enough in our own. If The Observer is ever in need of an epitaph, let that be it.

And so, The Observer looks at 40: heart of a 19-year-old, memory of a 60-year-old who has just slipped in the bathroom and whacked his head on the toilet, face of a 107-year-old whaling ship captain. The view from this ridge is good, we think, even though it's probably all downhill from here. Or maybe not. That's what makes life both livable and dang near unbearable: the uncertainty of it all. You never see the best year of your life coming, and a lot of people don't recognize it even after it's long gone.

Speaking of gone: Begone, birthday! Let's get back to living without lingering on a number, without all this addition and subtraction, division and solving for Final X. Our 20s were entirely too immature, our 30s entirely too serious. Let this be The Decade of Don't Give a Shit, then, though maybe we should save that one for our 50s. The Decade of Love, maybe. The Decade of Giving Back to Those Who Have Loved Us. The Decade of Keeping On With Keeping On. Sounds like a plan. Somebody remind us to write it down somewhere so we don't forget it.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Snake stories

    The Observer's boss, Uncle Alan, is something of a gentleman farmer on his spread up in Cabot, growing heirloom tomatoes and watermelons and crops of chiggers on property that looks like the perfect farmstead Lenny and George often fantasized about in "Of Mice and Men."
    • Aug 27, 2015
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Watch the trailer for 'Shelter,' the Renaud Bros. new doc on homeless kids in New Orleans

    Check out the trailer for "Shelter," the Renaud Bros. new feature-length documentary about homeless teens navigating life on the streets of New Orleans with the help of Covenant House, the longstanding French Quarter shelter for homeless kids.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in The Observer

  • Memories of Townsend

    Vernon Tucker, musician and former Arkansas Times writer, asked for The Observer space this week to remember Townsend Wolfe. Why not? What follows is memory of early days at the Arts Center.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Weird trivia

    When completed, the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol lawn will be the exact size, shape and weight of the vaguely humming black monolith that appeared at the foot of Conway Sen. Jason Rapert's bed in June 2010 and later elevated his consciousness from apelike semi-sentience to incrementally less apelike semi-sentience.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Resolutions

    No more clinging to material things, unless those material things are life preservers tossed as I go down for the third and final time, the few remaining strands of my once-majestic locks, or the skids of the last helicopter out before the fall of Little Rock.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation