I've been listening to a lot of Shawn Mullins lately. To many of you, Shawn Mullins was a one-hit-wonder, spawned in the North Georgia mountains and chasing the tails of the Indigo Girls and R.E.M. But for me, he was more than that. He was the voice of my college and 20-something years. When I was a freshman at North Georgia College, he was a senior and playing gigs at the bar across the street from our campus. I bought his cassette tape, "Everchanging World" in the college bookstore and played it until it wore out (my fellow Lewis Hall dorm mates were probably tired of listening to it). During my sophomore year, he released his first CD, "Better Days" and I still dust it off and listen to it when the mood strikes.
For the past month, Shawn's many albums have been on repeat in my car, my iPod, and in my head when I'm trying to fall asleep. I don't think it's that I'm trying to recapture 20-years-ago but rather trying to understand me 20 years ago. How 20-year-old me slowly morphed into 41-year-old me.
(I have to make an admission here. A quick aside. We all talk about our lives being "short" and "blink of an eye" is thrown around. Sometimes, though, I feel like these 41 years have taken forever to pass by.)
This song, from Shawn's album that included the one-hit "Lullaby", is one of my favorites. It's called "Twin Rocks, Oregon." Just take five minutes and listen. It's totally SFW:
The message of this song, about finding yourself, has been at the forefront of my mind for the last month. I've been aware of my mortality for longer than I can remember, but it's only since having kids (and last month's health scare) that I'm now hyper aware of my eventual end. Will my children be OK without me? Will they mourn me and be at my wake? Will they take the lessons I've taught them and teach their own children? Will the world still turn and the sun still rise and set?
Yes. Of course... I hope.
I don't know the definite answers. I'm never meant to know. But, I do know this. When I finally leave this earthly plane, my children will know that I was comfortable in my own skin. They will know that after all those years, I finally understand who I am and that I really like me. All of my experiences have led me to this point, this dot on my timeline, and I'm happy here. Loving Tyler Dobson, loving three amazing little kids that came from me, being a band nerd, standing up to an adult bully, studying physics, leaving West Virginia, wanting to write erotic fiction, chasing ghosts, all of it. I. Am. Content. And that frees me to no end.
There's a line in the song, "ain't it a blessin' to do what you want to do" that resonates, except I'm going to change it up a bit.
Ain't it a blessin' to be who you want to be?
It is. It truly is.
Today, I'm 41. When I look in the mirror, I see a tired yet beautiful woman who is ready to rock this planet for at least another half-century. And when that day comes, I'm sure I will listen to more Shawn Mullins, the voice of my youth, think of how I got there, and remember that being me is pretty fucking amazing. Ain't that a blessin'?
*For those of you who wish to know, niobium is a chemical element, symbol Nb. It's a metal that can be found in the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. And? It's atomic weight is 41. Insert nerd smiley face here.