It has been months since I posted something, and even before that last post, my contributions to this blog have been sporadic. And to some extent, uninspired. There was something creeping into my life. It's called ennui.
I knew it was there, but last night as I walked through Boys Town feeling morose and unwanted (I was totally channeling Linda Ronstadt), I overheard a couple gay boys at least half my age chatting behind me: "We're celebrating our six-year anniversary," said one.
Then I read a message from someone I've been texting with and whom I was planning to meet in a couple weeks: "I hope you aren't expecting anything more than conversation when we meet."
And this all leads me to recall a conversation I had earlier in the evening. I was dining at a vegan restaurant in Old Town with a colleague from work. She and I had a wonderful time: the food was excellent, I brought a fabulous wine to share, and our conversation was bright and happy and thrilling. Being the social media fanatics she and I are, we both checked in on FourSquare and we got a special - free desert.
When dinner was over and we examined the desert menu, I suggested the blueberry cheesecake because I thought the blueberries would go well with the remaining wine. My mind was totally in the realm of cheesecake and all that word means to me. So when the cheesecake was delivered to our table, its appearance immediately struck me as odd. And when I tasted it, the texture was not at all what I expected.
I was disappointed. I said as much, noting that it was good, but it was not what I expected at all. My friend gently reminded me that we were dining in a vegan restaurant, so traditional cheesecake would not be served. I said to her, "You know, it's funny how it is most often our expectations about something that create our disappointment, not the thing itself. This cheesecake is really quite fine, but because I had expected something creamy and smooth and decidedly not vegan, I was unhappy."
Yes, our expectations. Not the thing itself. This is so basic Four Noble Truths kind of stuff that I feel like I should cancel my subscription to the Dhamma and quickly find a bed of nails to lie on. It's just as my friend Curt recently said: "We've got to get you out of this rut you're in, Richard."
And that word "rut" was so apropos. I had been in both a mental and sexual rut, honing in on deliciously young men whom I was successfully converting into a series of trysts. It was making me feel adequate because look at me! I'm a 54-year-old man and see this cute 20-something with me? But the trouble has been most 20-somethings aren't ready to settle down into anything long-term; they want to play just as much as I do. And the ones that say they do want something long term, well, have you ever tried having a conversation with someone who is less than half your age? I often can't even find any musical interests that we share in common.
So there it is - ennui staring me in the face. And it's because I've been spending a lot of time on the outside of me. I've been kicking my ass in a good way at the gym, losing weight and toning up. I've started attending a yoga class that has really helped my flexibility and my overall sense of health. And while I have been chanting and meditating, it's not as regular as I feel it should be. And frankly, I haven't read any Dhamma since ...
My friend Curt is right. I need to find a way out of this rut of endlessly pursuing younger men with whom I have nothing in common other than an overactive libido. Because that day will come when I no longer got it going on. Maybe it's because of my stroke earlier in the year. You'd never know just by looking at me that I had one. But there may be a thought nugget inside my mind that is telling me to live it up as much as I can because I may not be so lucky with the next one. It's as though I'm Jack Nicholson in "Five Easy Pieces" when he attempts to reconcile his relationship with his father who's been incapacitated by a devastating stroke.
So there it is. There it is, really, for all of us. Because in some manner, we are all creating our own disappointment with everything, our own dissatisfaction, and we're doing it via our expectations.