What to do when you’re past your prime

Everybody’s got a prime, that peak period when you’re at your best, you do your best, everything just turns up roses all the time, and hey, isn’t that great? The only problem is that primes come and go, and not only don’t they tell you when they’re coming, they don’t tell you when they’re going neither. For some people it’s pretty clear, like athletes. Chances are their primes are gonna be around their mid to late twenties. If they’re professionals they know to cash in then, sign the multi-year deals before it’s too late. But for the rest of us mere mortals, how do you know? And then, even worse, what do you do when it’s over? Everybody knows somebody who peaked in high school. You don’t feel sorry for that stupid fat slob because they had it good when you had it worst, but your time is gonna come and go too, bud, so don’t be gloating too hard. I guess there are people who have multiple primes, like a prime in one area, then a prime in another. Lucky bastards. Most of us only go around once in life and we gotta grab for all the gusto we can get, or was that a beer or cigarette tv commercial from the sixties and didn’t I just date myself? tv cigarette commercials had their prime too, I suppose, though beer just keeps on going and going. I’ve been thinking about this lately because it seems to me I passed my writing prime a couple of years back, and now what? Nothing I’ve written since measures up to what I was writing before, during that six or seven year period when I scribbled down a bunch of stuff I still kind of like. Maybe the secret is forgetfulness. Maybe the secret is time. Maybe if I forget the stuff I wrote and enough time goes by then I can start all over again and think I’m hot shit once again. That’s something no professional athlete can do. If your prime mainly exists inside your own mind (like it does for a true writer of fiction) you can regenerate that prime feeling any old time you want. Just wash the old crap right out of your head. When the going gets tough, go the other way.

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3 thoughts on “What to do when you’re past your prime

  1. I think it’s natural for us to imagine our prime is always some time in the past, no matter how old we are, that we’ve already peaked and didn’t realise it, and darn it’s too late now to make a difference about anything! When I read my stuff I can’t help thinking I was writing better ten years ago than I am now, that my ideas were better and my head not so muddled up by life. I don’t know – better to let others judge that one and me not to give a damn about it. I’m certainly a lot uglier now. I suppose the answer to both is to stop looking in the mirror and just to keep going, because there has to be some reason for us living three score years and ten, when the world stops expecting anything from us once we hit twenty five. Keep going, Tom, even if it’s only out of spite, and I’ll do the same! 🙂

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