Being Old Has Advantages

"What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew. Robert Browning

Happy Saturday morning as I savor both the large and the small.

One of my semi-autobiographical short stories contemplated the twenty year-old version of the protagonist confronting the main character. Marty, the main character, spends the remainder of the story defending his life, rationalizing his failures, apologizing for his complete loss of passion.

When I wrote the story, I was the three-term mayor of Depressionville, a small town, population me. My hobbies included beating myself up, self-medicating, and being angry with the world. Occasionally I’d scuba dive, visiting my self-esteem sitting at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. In the story, the 20 year-old version of me is disgusted, filled  with contempt over his sad and seemingly inevitable fate.

Fuck that noise.

My future is the blankets of slates. I apologize for nothing that got me here. Yeah, I wish there were times I made different choices but I didn’t. The road I traveled led me to a happy marriage for almost three decades, and three beautiful, strong daughters who fill me with awe, occasionally joy, and pride knowing I helped contribute to a better world if only by their presence.

Last night I had the first good night’s sleep in over a week. When I sat down to pen this post, I wanted to share the fact I was savoring sleeping through the night. I wanted to share my experience that savoring doesn’t have to always be about the big stuff, the graduations, the promotions, etc. In fact I’ve come to learn that for me, it is the exact opposite, savoring the smallest of moments that make up the canvas of my new chapter.

After deciding to share my contentment over my good night’s sleep, my first thought was “I wonder what 20 year-old Jon would think if he read this?”

He’d be angry. Maybe a tad disgusted. He’d react with a childish perspective. It isn’t his fault. At 20,  he’s just beginning his way in the world and equates victory with the unforrowing and planting of flags on summits. At 20, the climb is little more than a means to an end, and matters not.

Perhaps I’ll write a story in which the main character, Marty, visits his 20 year-old iteration. His goal is enlightening his younger self. Marty will make a compelling argument that contentment and serenity comes from appreciating all the moments in life, not just isolated moments of perceived “success”

Maybe they watch Mr. Holland’s Opus, a lovely film about a music teacher who takes a lifetime to realize that his masterpiece was the hundreds of young minds upon which he made lifelong impressions.

And then Marty and his younger self have a beer or two, because some things never change. While twenty year-old Marty may rationally appreciate what his older self is saying, it will take decades before the words transform from an excuse for not planting flags into a healthier way to view both his world and how he fits into it.

Thanks for listening. Stay in touch. Connect.

P.S. So Mr. Holland’s Opus didn’t have any clips that made sense so I gave Scrooged a visit. I’m a sucker for Bill Murray. My twenty year-old version of me would be happy to hear that hasn’t changed.

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