It's not really Fairyland's fault. I'd actually made my decision days earlier, it's just that Fairyland reassured me that I was doing the right thing.
I spend a lot of time doing two things: interacting with people online and submerging myself into comic books. The two have become interlinked over the last few years of my life.
I have read comics since I was 10 and that won't change. I will always have a robust online life. But I've found recently that I need to pull back on both of those things.
At the moment, I run a web site: Comics Bulletin. It is, as you might surmise, a site about comics. I've been running it for less than a year, but in that time it has become a top priority for me. This is, in part, because I'm neurotic and this is what I do. But the site is also about something I'm passionate about, so it was easy to justify my obsession.
My current priorities in life are as follows:
That last one is in that spot as an aspect of taking care of my son, helping my wife, and being able to afford to write (in a house while fed). The problem is that the site, and by extension comic books themselves, was getting in the way of each of those priorities. That wasn't a big deal with regards to my job as no one really noticed, but it was a very big deal with regards to everything else on that list.
This isn't a post about comics or that site, though. I'm going through one of those times when I realize that what I used to feel was important either no longer is (to me) or can't be, and that there are new things that are replacing them.
Yesterday I deadlifted 195 lbs, which is 60 lbs more than the last time.
The idea of me using any of those words, let alone together in a sentence, is crazy. And yet here I am, a guy with a trainer who lifts weights. Better yet, I look FORWARD to it. I try to squeeze in a visit to my trainer's gym whenever I can.
I started going to strengthen my lower back, which has given me problems for years. I wanted to be able to pick up my son and not worry about being incapacitated for days. I've been going for months now, getting stronger and stronger, my energy level increasing the more I go. I'm doing it for my son, but the impact it's had on me has been huge. It's important to me.
That's not something I would have said even six months ago.
My son's school has a parents group with a representative from each class. His class didn't have one, so I volunteered. I didn't just do it because they needed someone, I did it because I felt like I was the best person for the job: I know the kids in my son's class. I say hi to each of them by name every morning. It takes me a half an hour to drop off my son and part of that involves playing with the all of the kids.
That's important to me now.
A lot of this is to be expected, I guess, but it's a testament to a) how drastically the needs of a child change when they become toddlers and b) how desperately I'll hold on to my past when I feel change coming.
What I have found surprising about my shift in priorities is how liberating it feels.
I honestly don't know why that is. Sure, it's in part because I'm no longer bound to a web site and all that entails. But it's more than that. There's clarity. For as enjoyable as my hobbies have been, they're amorphous; there's no start, no finish, no straight line. I wasn't working towards anything. Now I feel like I am.
Every moment I spend with my son or my wife is working towards building and maintaining our relationships. Every moment I spend writing has the duel purpose of unburdening my soul and creating something I can get published. Every moment I spend at work pays for this life and brings me closer to possibly making more money to pay for this life.
Like I said earlier, I'm still reading comics, just as I'm still reading books and I'm still playing video games. But they're not foremost in my mind anymore, not like they were. So I don't mind leaving the house. I don't mind a spur of the moment trip to the zoo or our inaugural visit to Fairyland. These are all parts of a bigger picture which is suddenly less cloudy than it was before.
The funny thing is that for all the time I've spent trying to stay a kid, by actually growing up I now spend more time playing with toys and watching cartoons than I have in years.