Who I am in 2018

I was out for a drive the other day with my dog Bailey in the passenger seat. The top was down on my little convertible, and the sun was blasting us. I’m pretty sure we were both smiling. Then I realized – I’m that middle-aged guy that we’ve all seen at one time or another in a convertible with a dog. My smile turned to self-judgement. Is this really me? How’d I become that guy?

I have relied on identities all my life. I’m “this” or I’m “that,” and then my behavior and actions followed.

When did all this start? Middle school, when everything else starts. I remember first identifying as an artist – because I loved to draw and was really good at it. Then in high school, the next logical step for me was to become a somewhat angst-ridden tortured artist. After that, it was an easy segue into a ‘partier.’ I excelled at that identity into my early twenties, when it was quickly followed by a phase where I identified as a 12-stepper. Then I met Sandy, and I became a husband and an instant dad. Early in our marriage, I went through my struggling artist phase (different than tortured), then suddenly, I was a successful syndicated cartoonist. From there, I transitioned into a business owner, then an empty nester, then a caretaker and finally, a widower.

I identified strongly with all these phases of my life. The transitions were sometimes abrupt. Some overlapped for several years. Now, with my wife gone and kids out of the house – I’m left with the question, who am I really? Underneath all the titles and personas.

Am I that guy who buys a big house east of I-35 and chills? Or am I that guy who downsizes into a condo downtown and becomes an art patron? Or maybe I’m a writer? Hang on, I think we can all agree I’m not a writer.

So 2018 starts a new chapter. I’m feeling healed and ready for what’s next. And if you see Bailey and me riding around with the top down – no need to judge. I already have.

Dave Miller February 2018

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