Saturday, July 14, 2018

Hi Seth This is Rex

So I was dusting the house today and listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Akimbo by Seth Godin. At the end of every episode, Seth does a Q&A where he responds to questions from listeners of the prior podcast. This Q&A session is always preceded by a nice little intro with lots of voices from people saying, “Hi Seth, this is so and so calling from somewhere” with this funky upright bass theme music.

There’s one voice that says, “Hi Seth, this is Rex.” Now, I am a musician and I like to think that I have a good ear. Every time I’ve heard that voice say hi Seth this is Rex, it takes me  back to the early 80s when I was a summer camp counselor at a YMCA camp in Ohio. One of the senior counselors was a guy named Rex Julian about four years older than me and a incredibly nice guy. He was one of the people who introduced me to Christianity in a different way than I had experienced before and I ended up having a 15-year run connecting to my spirituality in a very  intense way before settling on becoming a hopeful agnostic which I have been for the last 20 or so years.

That musical ear of mine quickly convinced me that the Rex on Seth‘s podcast was my Rex, my friend from almost 40 years ago. So I did  that magical thing that is possible because Interwebs and I started looking — first on Facebook, where I quickly found a page that was almost certainly his — went to Ohio University (check); about four years older than me (check); then I saw a fuzzy picture of a somewhat chunkier version than the Rex I remember, but a deeper look left no doubt. It was Rex!

Then I saw my first clue of a possible negative: his last post with in 2011.  OK, no problem. Lots of people abandon Facebook after some bad experiences. So looked for him on LinkedIn using some of the clothes I got in from his Facebook profile. I found some possibilities, but nothing that was absolutely him.

So I googled. First hit: Ugh! An obituary. Same pic as on his Facebook profile. Dead in 2011 at 51.

RIP Rex Allen Julian

When you hit your 50s, it seems to be the decade of life disappointments — or more specifically perhaps, death disappointments. The folks you know from your past — your peers, your classmates, the people your age — they all start dying off. It’s not like everyone’s dying; it’s just that dying in your 50s in an era where life expectancy is in the 70s and 80s is pretty much by definition a tragedy. If feels very close to home. It feels like a sucker punch. Or, as the guys can relate, when you see a player take a line drive straight to the groin Can you reflexively wince in solidarity.

This is probably a big component of the mid-life crisis phenomenon. You see folks you know and can relate to dying too young and you ask yourself, “What have I been doing with my life?”

So how do you handle this particular chapter of life? Are you just working to get younger friends? Keeping your head down? Wallowing in loss? 

For my part, I’m trying to do more things I’ve been wanting to do and fewer things that feel like obligations. I’ve recently quit the day job and have gone into business with my wife so that we can have more time to do things that aren’t just for a job. We’re starting to work on reducing our spending so that we don’t have to make as much as we have historically needed. 

And I’ve been giving more time to creating. You’ll be seeing on this blog in the coming weeks information about a Kickstarter campaign I will be doing  for a CD project that goes with my musical. I also may start blogging more — in part because that was the episode of Seth’s podcast that talked about communicating more and blogging more and giving more.

Be well. Make a difference — even if you can’t quite tell it will stick.