Happy Birthday Luke Wilson
What’s seven days between friends?
I am 50 today.
I figured let’s get the big news right out there.
He turns 50 next Tuesday, the 21st.
He’s from Texas.
I’ve been to Texas.
The similarities are frightening.
Actually he’s from Massachussets.
But I understand people from Massachussets.
Fine maybe I don’t.
But I understand people with brothers.
Luke’s brother Owen tried to take his own life.
My friend Steve, who was as close to a brother as a friend gets, did.
“A man of many friends will come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
- Proverbs 18:24
I bumped into Luke once, but I wasn’t in a good place, meaning I wasn’t really happy, so I didn’t say anything. I just nodded when he glanced at me at Peet’s Coffee on Main in Santa Monica, and added half and half to my coffee while he and a friend ordered theirs.
I had just turned 40. Staying at a friends’ house. My dad had passed away. And I was down.
Today I’m 50, and I wish I could tell that 40 year old to lighten up and get busy.
But hold on, I told myself that at 40 and it didn’t work.
Other people did too.
At the time I didn’t see any other way but to dwell. To hang on to disappointment. To hang on to where I wasn’t in life, what I hadn’t accomplished, how far from my dreams I had (seemingly) fallen.
If I got angry enough, I thought, maybe I’ll produce change. Maybe I can change where I’m at. Maybe I can get pissed off enough to get myself on track — closer to any track — anything that makes more sense than this.
Now I see I was right on track.
Not for Luke’s dreams, but for mine.
Oh sure, maybe I wasted a couple years there where I could have buckled down quicker but given my overall health and Grandmother’s full head of hair, would anyone notice? The difference between 40 and 44 for us blondes is pretty negligible.
Plus I feel healthier at 50 than I did at 40.
And more confident.
And more capable to handle adversity.
With where I’m at?
Not completely — but happier with the choices I made and the path I’m on. And more confident to still get to where I want to be.
All that in one decade you say?
I won’t add all the pictures, ok fine just the one above, still so great. But I don’t need to go over the stories of the entire decade. It’s not necessary. What is necessary is to own our lives. Our hand. To own every moment and to honor your heart when it tells you to go. Or to stay.
I’ve gotten better at listening to my heart.
Scratch that — I’ve gotten better at discerning between my heart and a whim, between purpose and a short term itch, between running from something and running to something.
Around 45 I think is when I saw the scary reality of sticking to that wrong path.
I had made two movies about my dad, California naturalist John Olmsted https://vids.kvie.org/video/kvie-viewfinder-story-jug-handle/ and shot one other documentary for a friend, but still I was floating. Sinking probably if I’m honest.
Not because I wasn’t following my heart, but because I wasn’t running towards anything, I was just running.
When I started running towards where my heart was pointing — yes I realize it sounds like a Kacey Musgraves’ song — but for me it was true. When I stopped stalling and went all in on the hand I was given — my unique poker hand, things started making sense.
I went back to taking risks.
The book I just finished talks about this a lot but I’m not even in the mood to brag about it or detail it, it can be purchased at www.aldenolmsted.com — or on Amazon next week.
That’s my deal.
My modus operandi.
Better things happen when I risk.
But it’s not for everyone. I think that’s why I shied away from preaching “risk” as a lifestyle all these years.
It’s — wait for it — Risky.
If we’re back to the poker analogy my hand would most likely be an easy “fold” for most people, but after reaching the wall of reality I got honest. If this was my hand, awesome. I was determined to turn my crazy unique hand into a flush. Maybe not a royal flush but at least a full house.
On Friday I finished my fifth film — fourth documentary and the third film about my dad and his conservation work. It’s called A Wild Independence and is getting a beautiful musical score written as we speak.
But my writing & directing role is done.
How my dad turned an abandoned mining ditch into the first wheelchair nature trail in America is a story. A great story actually!
But this confidence and happiness can’t be dependent on accomplishments — that’s an exhausting strategy no?
Ie.. what if the film wasn’t finished when a birthday milestone rolled around? What if other things are stalling, what if a woman I just became interested in (not many knock my socks off) has a new beau — and it’s not me?
Actually all those things are true.
And what if the movie was supposed to be done — like music and everything done — two weeks ago.
But I’m ok.
Better than ok.
Because I’m on the path.
The good path.
Not your path. Not my dad’s path. Not the path my friends think I should be on.
The path I’m supposed to be on.
How do I know?
Because I don’t waste time wondering if it’s the right path anymore. Sounds a little zen doesn’t it?
So be it.
Because that game is a losing hand.
I’d rather live.
I started writing my next book. It’s a novel that will hopefully become a movie. Telling the story of growing up in NorCal. With friends like Steve.
It’s gonna be good.
Full house good? Yes but I’m not satisfied with a full house.
What beats a full house?
That’s right — four of a kind.
Deal me in.