T. E. Lawrence was 46 years old when he was killed when he swerved on his motorcycle to avoid two young boys in the road. He flipped over the handlebars and was unable to recover from his injuries. This was of course in 1935. I am of course referring to Lawrence of Arabia. (Not coincidentally the movie with Peter O’Toole was on TCM last night). The thing that made him particularly great to me was that by the age of 29 he had accomplished things most of us think dreams are made of. He was involved in the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in WWI and is widely regarded as a hero. He was an author and let’s face it; an all around adventurer.
I spent a lot of time researching some of this information. I knew some of it from memory but there were some details I was sketchy on. As I spent my time reading about Mr. Lawrence I came to the realization that this piece wasn’t going to be the morbid self-loathing article I had planned. I was going to talk about all the great things Lawrence had accomplished by the time he was my age and compare it to the fact that I’ve done practically nothing with my life.
But that’s crap. I’ve had my adventures. I’ve done quite a number of amazing things. There’s a certain panache missing I’ll admit, but I’ve done some interesting things. By the time I was 19 I had opened a theater company with the help of one of my best friends. (Mind you we barely lasted a year, but we did it). I self published a book of poetry when I was 23. I’ve loved passionately. I’ve seen the sun rise over the lakefront and have danced in patches of the brightest moonlight.
I’ve seen fires burn and bodies in the street. I’ve seen the tragedies and miracles of everyday life. I’ve witnesses the growth of the young people around me and the ravages of old age. I’ve read some of the finest words and had the opportunity to expand my mind on countless subjects. I’ve made friends. I’ve lost friends. I’ve learned from them all.
So things aren’t so bad, other than the fact that my phone will not stop ringing today. I’m sure Lawrence didn’t have to deal with that, but then, it was a different time and I suppose if he were me, he’d be complaining about the same things.