Her name was Mrs. McGibbons, and she was the well-weathered old lady who lived in the first floor apartment where I lived back when I was in my late twenties. She stopped me at her door one summer day - as I was leaving to go play my guitar out at the park or something - and said,
"Paul, you're a slacker."
That was it.
I know these were prophetic words because it was the only thing she ever said to me. I hardly ever saw her, and I am surprised she even knew my name. And this was well before being a slacker became the calling of an entire generation, and could be generally applied to anyone under thirty. And so, some fifteen years later, I have to ask myself, "How did she know?"
I am a slacker.
And I don't think I like it. Well, for one thing, there isn't a whole lot of money in it.
This all is occurring to me at the passing of another birthday, my forty second. I am beginning to dislike birthdays. I suppose it is the forming clouds of the inevitable midlife crisis. It must be. Yesterday I was driving to the mall in the Quad Cities and there was a white Corvette parked at the end of a rural driveway with a for sale sign in the window. I almost stopped to write out a check for it right then and there - to compensate for my perceived failings in the other areas of my life. Of course, one of those failings would be that we only have ten dollars and nineteen cents in our checking account....
But I bring this all up because I find myself at this midpoint of my life (well, I hope it is the midpoint - and not the last week!), without a clue as to what I am supposed to be doing. No grand scheme seems to have formed itself.
(That probably is half the problem. I am waiting for this scheme to unfold itself - while I watch TV or play here at the computer - rather than having a hand in its design myself.)
But yesterday I found myself praying, "Lord, what is it you want me to be doing?"
And I think his answer was, "What I tell you to, dummy!"