Time nipping at our heels

Do you ever feel like the protagonist in your favourite books?

Interestingly, I’m drawn to delusional, psychotic or narcissistic males in many cases: American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman is a wealthy, narcissistic, vain Manhattan investment banker who moonlights as a serial killer.

Liar’s Poker is semi-autobiographical account of author Michael Lewis’s time as a bond salesman on Wall Street in the 80s when ‘greed was good’.

And then there’s Death of a Salesman, a play by Arthur Miller fearing Willy Loman. The name befits the character – a 63-year-old travelling salesman from Brooklyn who has lost the youthful verve and camaraderie of his past. His business acumen is still at its peak, but he can no longer leverage his personality to get by.

Time has caught up with him.

I’ve been pondering Willy as I edge towards 60. Still some years away but in the professional world 50, 60 – it doesn’t really matter.

Time is nipping at our heels.

I hear the platitudes – age is just a number, there’s plenty more to achieve, you’re never too old, it’s about your mindset. Blah, blah blah.

Sure, they’re all valid comments, but it also becomes very clear that you don’t have (or perhaps don’t want to commit) 10 years or 15 years or even 12 months to reaching some milestone. Make it snappy. Time is short, we need to get a move on.

Gen Xers like me have been there, done that. We’ve been through social, economic and plenty of tech changes and challenges that have influenced our view of the world.

Unlike the tradition valuing Baby Boomers and the socially progressive Millenials, Gen Xers are pragmatic, self- reliant and skeptical.

Poor Willy Loman pre-dated Gen X and Baby Boomers. He worked at the same company for more than three decades, withstanding a pay cut and then being fired by the son of the guy who had hired him decades prior.

Willy created a fantasy world to cope with his lot, and he tried several times to end his life.

Author Arthur Miller was quoted saying Willys’ story was about hopelessness and mortality: “Willy was trying to write his name on cake made of ice on a hot summer day.”

No one wants to be Willy. To be fair, no one is probably keen on being any of my fictitious favourites.

There’s probably another discussion in why I’m drawn to dodgy New York male characters (husband excluded) but meantime I’ll seek out some sunny, female protagonist-led literature.

I’d love to hear which characters you are drawn to, and why?

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