Through the Glass Oldly
I was thinking – and that’s sometimes not a good thing.
Anyway, it occurred to me that I spent a great deal of my time in my youth wasting precious time: Chasing girls, hanging out in bars with buddies, skipping classes in college — yet still getting passing grades – dreaming impossible dreams… ridiculous folly.
Although I am certainly not proud of myself for wasting my youth on frivolousness and trivialities, I am proud of myself for one thing: My resourcefulness. Consider this… back in the days when I was a teenager and early twenty-something, I didn’t have the tools of folly and superficiality that the youth of today have.
We didn’t have computers, tablets, smartphones, heck – we were just getting touch tone phones – we didn’t even have to dial the area code before the number if the number was in the same area code.
We did not have Craigslist, Facebook Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or digital cameras everywhere. Our idea of social media was writing on restroom stalls, and posting “wanted” and “for sale” flyers at the corner market.
Yet, still, without all the modern tools that make time-wasting a snap, I still managed to waste a whole lot of the most precious time in a human being’s life – the fleeting moments of youth.
I will say this, the older you get the more easily you can focus in on all the time you wasted in your life.
When in my middle years I looked back on my wild youth with a whimsical heart. You know… if I could only do all that again, oh what fun it would be. Middle age is a time when you’re too young to recognize you’re running out of time, and most of use still physically able to carouse a bit – so we can imagine ourselves brazenly cavorting around enoying the fun and follies of youth.
I am not sure what happens, or eactly when it happens, but the lens though which you view your past becomes, not cloudy as you would expect, not like an old cornea, but clear and easily focused. And when you look back at your life through this lens, it suddenly becomes clear you could have done more, or you could have done better, or your could have taken more time out for the really important things in life. And I don’t mean making money. I mean taking time for your family, your friends, and spending a little more free time helping others, rather that wasting it on futile pursuits. Or Is this just how I look at it?
Is it just me? I don’t know what the past looks like to you. I can’t see with your eyes; I cannot feel with your heart. Do you look through the glass oldly and see your youth as a time you built a foundation for your future, or did you waste a lot of it on things that turned out not to matter much? Folly.
Twenty years ago, had someone offered me a chance to go back and live my youth over again, exactly as I did then, I think I would have jumped at the chance. If someone offered me that same opportunity today, I would look back through the glass oldly and I would certainly say no. The thoughts of myself as a young man, exhaust me. And to be honest, looking through the glass oldly, makes me feel weak, old, powerless and yearning.
But what can I do? I wake up each morning and try very hard to remember to be thankful for the day. I am lucky in that I have work to keep me busy. I have a small business and a partner who puts up with me… thought sometimes I know it must be hard for her. I have two great gown-up kids, who are both successful in their lives. I have wonderful grandchildren. And though I’ve have had some problems with my health, I am feeling great now.
I am very thankful that I’m able to get out and walk a couple of miles every day. It may seem odd to say that I am happy to still be sturdy enough to dig around in the dirt and plant flowers as well as a little garden. I finally got wise… I think!
Now more than ever before, I’m enjoying the simple things. Things like sitting under a shady tree, reading a good book, feeling the summer breeze blowing on my face.
Yes, it smacked me in face pretty hard when I first looked back at my past and my youth through the glass oldly. The feeling hit me hard you know. The disquieting feeling that I am helpless now to reach back and live my youth differently. It’s a helpless feeling and feeling that’s hard to let go of.
But then you realize in your heart you have to let it go. You can’t give yourself to today if you’re spending it looking back at the past through the glass oldly.