Good morning, y’all. I woke up to the crisp mountain air, one year older. As I sit on the porch with my morning coffee and reflect on the quiet beauty of the mountains, I can’t help but think about “what a long strange trip it’s been.” “Truckin” by the “Grateful Dead” seems to be good background music for my mind today. The line, “Some times the light’s all shining on me” is pretty ironic.
Birthdays, like warts, can’t be prevented. I couldn’t stop mine from happening, I’ve tried real hard. In fact, if I could, I probably would have stopped the clock at about eighteen. At age eighteen I had everything going for me, if you discount my family and living conditions. I was young, strong and absolutely full of vim, vigor, and vitality. Now, if I could do it all again, I’d stop the clock at eighteen, gain about ten years worth of wisdom and then restart the clock. I would expect that extra wisdom would help me separate my family issues from my goals and keep me from making mistakes based off of knee jerk reactions. I’d have a better sense of the “long game”.
I expect that extra wisdom would prevent me from making the same mistakes with my kids that my parents made with me. As much as we tell ourselves, “when I grow up I’m never going to treat my kids like that”, we still carry over the peculiarities of our parents. What’s more, we haven’t learned that it’s ok to separate our kids from their grandparents if the grandparents are a huge problem. That is sad to say, but oh so true. And I’m not talking about simple stuff like your Daddy being a Tech fan, which is certainly bad enough. I’m talking about racism, prejudice, and bigotry that can be handed down by a grandparent on a simple trip to get ice cream. My new found wisdom would let me see that while a “leopard can’t change his spots”, I can assuredly keep my kids away from leopards.
I’m thinking my new wisdom would have reinforced the need for more wisdom, and would have steeled my courage to stay in school until they couldn’t teach me anything else. Now, I’m not saying that like these kids that get “social promoted” each year because a combination of kid refusing to learn with teacher refusing to teach, results in an ignorant child being graduated from high school. I’m talking about me learning everything that could be jammed in my brain at a time when my brain was still in good working order. I’m talking about the possibility of Bud Lite PhD. or D.D. or even, oh my god, M.D. What greater gift could I have given my family than to have lived up to my potential academically?
I’m thinking my new wisdom would have taught me more about the nature of relationships and that sometimes you don’t have to get married because you’re scared to be alone. No one should be like Cameron in Ferris Bueller. “Cameron has never been in love – at least, nobody’s ever been in love with him. If things don’t change for him, he’s gonna marry the first girl he lays”. I’m thinking that the new wisdom would help me select a mate/partner that would grow in the same ways, or same direction as me. I’d know that looking at my potential in-laws was a great indicator of where my relationship was going. Not always, but the tendency is big. Acorns don’t fall far from the tree, as they say.
I guess looking back at this I sound like a bitter, grumpy old man, oh well. “It’s my birthday and I can cry if I want to, cry if I want to”. If that reference doesn’t show my age, I don’t know what will. It’s like Yogi Berra used to say, “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” I guess I’m saying it was a good run, but it could have been a lot better.