J. Robert King


The Eternal Adolescent

Sorry.

That’s what I have to say first, for being gone so long. I’m sorry. Since I last wrote on this blog, I’ve starred as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and failed to get even the part of Repo Man 1 in The Full Monty. I’ve also had two novels published–Edge of Desinty, and Death’s Disciples–both of which are fantastic, despite what the critics say. And my next novel proposal was rejected.

So, all of these are reason for not writing, yes? Except that the other reason is a kind of general, free-floating malaise known as middle age. Middle age is when everyone thinks you have the answers, but you know nothing.

What no one wants to admit is that middle age is adolescence all over again. It’s the same awkward, I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing-but-TA-DA phase of existence. It’s the same everybody-expects-so-much-of-me-but-I-just-want-to-sleep experience. Adolescence has acne and middle age has baldness. Adolescence has “Will anyone pay me to do anything, ever?” and middle age has “Will anyone pay me to do anything, ever again?”

Adolescence is eternal. Certainty is transitory.

But I am choosing to celebrate my second adolescence. After all, adolescence is all about finding out who I am and who I am becoming. I need that. I need to become something more than I am. I’m constantly trying to be more. Transformation: That’s adolescence.

And, I would argue, that’s our truest state. If adolescence is that awkward striving to become something more, then every other state is that awkward decision to  cling to something less.

Awkward as it may be, it’s better to transform than to decompose.

I’d rather be the eternal adolescent.

January 23rd, 2011
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2 Responses to “The Eternal Adolescent”

  1. Jarrod Says:

    Congratulations on two further publications I must now keep my eyes out for… And sorry your next proposal was rejected.

    And while I am far away from adolescence, I haven’t quite reached middle-aged – but I think you’re spot on with the not-knowing-what-we’re-doing vibe. It’s universal, and not age-dependant. Some of us just hide or bury that feeling better than others. But fear not, I believe it is our normal state of operation. The answer is to embrace it, which it sounds like you’re having success doing.

    There’s a Taoist or Buddhist saying that I like to tell myself, reminding me to embrace the here and now, regardless of what tempest I might be in:

    If you find yourself falling, dive!

    So good luck with your transformational journey, may peace find you at the end of its path.

  2. Rob King Says:

    Ha! Your diving metaphor is a perfect bit of synchronicity.

    For three weeks before trying out for The Full Monty, I told everyone that I was doing so. I told them so that that I wouldn’t lose my nerve–much as you tell everyone you are about to dive off the high dive so that you feel obliged to climb up and dive.

    I did, and I belly flopped.

    Still, I can hold my head up high. I told my friends I’d go for it, and I did. I found myself falling–and dived, or tried to.

    And, Jarrod, your words of wisdom also remind me of a favorite old Jack Handey quote: “If you fall out of a building, go really limp. That way someone might think you are a dummy and try to catch you because–hey, free dummy!”

    I’m not sure whether I’m diving or going really limp, but one way or another, I’ll make an impression.

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