Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Am I older... better... or just getting started?

I was talking with someone recently who was lamenting the fact that they (we) are getting old. Shortly after that conversation I began to think about getting older. It’s something I rarely do, because, inside of this body I’m often looking out with the eyes of that 19 year old who had no idea what he was going to do in the world.

The fact is, I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I know what I’ve done, done well, done poorly, those things I don’t want to do again and maybe more importantly those things I’d like to repeat as often as possible as long as I’m alive.

Some days I feel like I really don’t know that old guy in the mirror. If I take a minute or two though, I begin to see the laughter that put each of the wrinkles on my face. I remember the great fun and conversations over the cold beers that seem to have taken up residence around my middle. Then I find myself remembering all the spills and thrills that seem to now occupy spots in my back and act up every once in a while so I’ll think of them.

I look at my bald head and remember days when I had hair, and the friends I’ve lost who never had a chance to grow bald or gray.

I remember heartache and heartbreak, falling in love, and out of love, the incredible smells of the Adirondack’s on a cold fall morning, or a warm summer afternoon and how it feels to be in love today!

The sheer joy of driving down country roads in the summer, on the motorcycle or with the top down in one of my old Triumph’s, summer vacations at Old Orchard Beach, the taste of fresh caught Maine lobsters are all things I feel so lucky to have experienced.

I know I’m not as ‘buff’ as I once was (I was probably never as buff as I remember being), but, I’ve earned every badge along the way.

I think there’s a two edged blade in aging. On the outside, and to the world, we’re older, maybe wiser, less impetuous, more mature and certainly more knowledgeable. On the inside however, for me, I’m still a kid. My inner child writing checks my body can not cash, or nearly hits bankruptcy when it does cash them. I still have that wide-eyed wonder at anything new I discover, can spend countless hours discovering all there is to discover about it then falling into a deep, sometimes several day sleep, when I’m done.

Some folks talk about ‘paying the price’… me, I’m thoroughly enjoying the price, of growing old(er). The flaws my body contains are like a roadmap, a photo album, of my travels and experiences. Each change reminding me of those times in the past when someone would say to me “You’ll pay for that when you’re older”… Maybe I am paying the price, today, but I’m truly enjoying being here to make the payments!

5 comments:

Ryan "DS" Dunlap said...

I do have to ask, out of pure curiousity, (and I felt I should comment, since you did me the favor of commenting on mine), did you ever have a period in your life where you thought, "I just can't make it through this, life is kicking me down, and it will never get better"? I don't mean like a week or a few days, but long periods of time, several months or years where you thought that? I have spent many many years believing exactly that, and have recently turned my life around. It seems like you have a positive outlook on life, and I guess my question is, were you always positive, or did you have to change your ways to become positive? I guess I wanna know if its possible, though I think I know the answer already.

Firehawk said...

Bill,

Old Business: Glad you sent something in and took the chance with the writing thing.

Okay, here's my two cents on the subject of aging, time, and the price you pay.

I think that, as times go on, the bad stuff and pain starts to filter through the cracks like sand through your fingers, and though you remember that stuff, it's distant, just a shadow of a shadow. The good times, the times you thought you'd die from laughing, the times when you felt like the luckiest guy on the planet, or when you just felt the peace of standing on a rock somewhere and watching the sun go down on a day well spent--those times stay, and maybe you lose them like that box of old photos in the back of the garage, but you find them again at strange times. You find those times when the wind's been in your face and felt like everything would always be okay, and those memories let you know that, with each year, you're not quite the same as you were, but you're still that person inside somewhere.

Time gets away from you, and yeah, I think it's natural to look back and feel like there's still a young kid in there somewhere. I have an aunt who's 72, and she's younger in attitude and enthisiasm than I've ever been. I just hope I can figure out how to bottle that and keep a bit for myself when I get up there.

I think that, though you live inside your body, the real source of being "old" is in the mind. If you can hang on to the beauty and wonder of life, you might get to be decrepit, but you'll go out chin first, never having been old.

Bill said...

Ryan: Sure, my time in the military was a very dark time for me... lots of days I thought I'd never get through. One thing I have found... is that if you get through one of those times, the next one is easier and shorter.. and so on and so on... Everytime I come through what feels like a 'bad time' I feel stronger on the other side. Each win has made me more confident of the next win.

I hope that helps/answers your question.

Firehawk: Oh man... When I finally do check on out of here.. it'll be chin up with a grin. I plan on riding motorcyles till they pry me off them... and continuing to find new adventures along the road.

Life is far too short, and we're too long dead to waste much time 'feeling old'... Some folks have suggested I'm in mid-life crisis... my answer... "GREAT! That means I'll live to 104!"

I agree, except it's not the good stuff that slips away like sand, it's the bad stuff (for me anyway)... after the military.. I thought I'd never forget the bad times... but I did, and now, all I really remember are the friends, the places I saw and the unique (good) experiences.

Sure, if I sit and dwell, I can recall the others, but they sit in that box in the garage most of the time!

I'm more that kid inside, everywhere! I still get nervous at a new contracting gig.. just like I did 20 years ago... and I get just as excited about the project as well... bottom line, I'm on a never-ending childhood... interspersed with moments of adult responsibility!

Thanks guys I really do appreciate the thoughts and comments!

Trevor Record said...

I'm not in the business of writting mini-blogs in the comment box, but that was pretty awesome. It makes me feel like maybe it's not so bad that I'm about to turn 20 and I still don't know what I want to do.

Bill said...

Thanks Trevor... I've grown to look at life more as an adventure, a journey, that I have no map for. At one point I thought I could 'control' how my life went.

These days I just leave myself open to opportunities, and try to select the ones that interest me most... then see where that path leads.

I appreciate the feedback, short or long!