My name is M.A.D. Hagan, and I was born and raised in California. Even though I’ve lived most of my life in the Golden State, the land of movie stars and $3,807.23 per gallon gas, countless farms and pothole-filled roads that resemble the Western Front’s “no man’s land”, and an amazingly diverse, melting-pot population and junkies, I’ve also lived in other places.
Life has a way of providing each of us with a bunch of choices, opportunities, or a seemingly endless series of forks in the road. Where your life takes you, the adventures you have, your trials and tribulations, your triumphs and defeats, everything that happens to you or the things you do, or the things that will happen to you or the things that you will do, has its foundation in those life choices. Do I join the military or the circus? Do I try to go to college or become a phone sex operator? Do I eat a healthy-ish meal of rice cakes smothered in strawberry jam, or consume an entire box of Fruit Loops?
I call these life choices, “Sporks In The Road.”
Sometimes these life choices bring you to a Waffle House in the Florida Panhandle at 2:37am, shoveling down smothered & covered hash browns with syrup and chili (and of course a waffle on top, we’re not savages) in order to soothe your troubled innards, burning and burbling with too much rum, cheap beer, and destroyed inhibitions. You do this while giggling at the drunken characters that always frequent every Waffle House in Anytown, USA until you realize you were merely gazing and giggling at your own hazy reflection in the restaurant’s window panes, which are already moist from Florida’s inhumane humidity and your own drool.
Like I said, Sporks In The Road.
If you think about it, all of us live out our lives and make our choices, choosing directions on that flimsy, plastic tine on the Spork In The Road in front of us, leading us to a life of interesting and great experiences, even if we don’t see it that way. I think we’ve been conditioned to never feel satisfied in life, that we have to be wealthy, famous, rockstar athlete CEOs with 2.7 trillion Instagram followers in order to not be a failure. Well…that’s bullshit.
If you’re feeling like your life has sucked, that you haven’t been super-duper successful, and that the Magic Wand of Wealth, Happiness, and Free Tacos (™ ) never bonked you on the forehead, then perhaps you just need a little perspective. Allow me to use myself as an example.
I’m not rich, not famous (don’t want to be), and I have less than a hundred Instagram followers. However, I’ve lived a life where my choices, my seemingly random direction changes, my feelings of restlessness, have led me to a lot of interesting and amusing experiences. I’ve always felt like I was just bumbling along in life, just getting by. But in retrospect, my life has contained so many unique, yet different things.
-I went pub-crawling in Dublin with the local Irish. And survived.
-I went mountain biking in Panama to explore an old Spanish fortress, and saw the Panama Canal too. It’s rusty.
-I accidentally stumbled into the red light district in Frankfurt (seriously, it was an accident…I just stumbled in…I didn’t know where I was…stop laughing), and was accosted by a gauntlet of German street pimps. Those fuckers are aggressive. And sexy.
-I am a pretty good musician. I’ve played guitar for over two decades. Even though I started playing mainly to learn my favorite Megadeth and Metallica songs, my musical tastes have since greatly expanded. This includes Irish traditional & Celtic music, classic rock, flamenco, and big band swing music. And not country.
-I served eight years in the US Navy, got involved in the intelligence community, and earned a top secret clearance. With this experience, and newly gained knowledge, I can confidently tell you, assure you, that positively 100%, there are absolutely no grey aliens in the government. Stay away from those conspiracy sites.
-I once drove from Pensacola, FL to Sacramento, CA in two and half days. I did this by making myself as Caffeinated As All Fuck (Caffeinated As All Fuck is defined as “enough caffeine to make a water buffalo’s heart explode”). Afterwards, I slept for twelve hours. I will never do that again.
-I have eaten at a Waffle House in the Florida Panhandle while drunk at 2:37am. And survived.
-The Navy sent me to Monterey, CA to attend the prestigious Defense Language Institute (DLI) where I would learn a foreign language quickly. During the 18 months I spent there, the languages I learned were Bullshit, Alcohol Consumption, and Arabic.
-I lived in Bahrain for a year, working as a command investigator for the US Navy base there. What was that like, you ask? Well, it was so hot and humid there it was like walking into Jabba the Hutt’s taint.
-I have climbed on Mayan Pyramids in Belize where another tourist asked, in utter disbelief, why an escalator was not installed on the pyramid. I’m serious.
-I was once married for a decade, in what became the longest relationship of my life. But that is another story.
I listed all of those things to give examples of how, if you put events in your life into proper perspective, it can make you realize that life is amazing. Go wherever your life choices take you. My mother, at age 20, decided she wanted a family, and raised me and my brother. One of her joys in life has been seeing us grow into the people we became, that we grew up to be healthy and happy.
If you don’t think your life was that interesting because you’ve only been raising your family, what about the time that you laughed your ass off when one of your kids coated the family dog in a bag of flour, and the dog then ran off into the neighbor’s yard during their Sunday football barbeque, leaving a white, dusty cloud in its wake, and causing the neighbors to sneeze uncontrollably? Or when your kids used permanent markers to draw beards (and maybe a penis) on their faces the morning of school picture day? Or how proud you felt when your child became an adult?
It’s all about perspective. When you look back at all the directions you took, the tines you chose for each Spork In The Road of your life, you realize that life is pretty amazing. Try to always enjoy where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going. Learn from your mistakes and the bad things that happened, and appreciate all the good things that happened. So here’s to all of you, especially if you’re reading this while on your phone at 3:00am, may all the choices in your Sporks In The Road of life lead you to happiness and free tacos.