Sitting out on the deck this morning, I remember so much. Some brought a smile and some sadness. It was a melancholy morning. I remember when the starter switch for my car was under the clutch pedal. I remember TV test patterns and looking at that pattern waiting for the TV show to start. We had a 7-inch TV screen and a choice of a few shows after dinner before they signed off.
I remember physical intimacy, running on the beach to fly a kite, putting a reef in my sails during a rain squall, camping, and living as a civil war soldier in the wilderness, just for the experience. Now I have to rest after I walk up my driveway to get the mail. I remember when corporate management would greet me, when I published technical journals, when I gave presentations to large crowds, and when I thought what I was doing at work was so important. Now, I am not sure any of that meant anything in the grand scheme of life.
I remember being taught by my father that my word must be my bond. A day when the truth was the ideal. The idea of “my word is my bond” reaches back centuries. The books of Matthew and Numbers both contain passages in which one’s spoken vow becomes a sacred commitment. Nowadays, I see fake news and the leader of the greatest nation in my lifetime who has no concept of what truth is.
I remember being a proud member of the Navy stationed on a destroyer. Now I see a commander and chief that tells sailors to rip their ship name patch off and covers up the name of a ship with canvas because he does not like the name. I see countries asking us to leave, we pull out of alliances, and we deploy troops to coral peaceful protesters.
I remember when you worked for what you wanted. I wanted to go on a bare-foot cruise on a sailing ship, so I worked as Christmas help at a department store to pay for it. Now I see adults complaining because I didn’t buy coffee for the Keurig as they sit around. Which reminds me, I remember when making coffee was a process that I started before I got dressed because it took time. Now I fidget because the K-cup took a minute to brew.
I remember when I was sought out for advice and invited to attend events, now I only have memories, and the honor goes to the younger crowd. But not all is lost. I also see a young, energetic six-year-old that calls me pop-pop and still thinks that I can fix anything.
So many experiences and lessons learned in my 78 years that nobody wants to hear about. That same six-year-old informed me that she was in first grade now and no longer needed to be told what to do. I just smile and say OK, but don’t touch that hot stove.
My challenge is the sheer number of changes and transitions that start to occur. I try to face my limitations with a healthy dose of humor. I don’t always succeed. I was told that a key ingredient for healthy aging is the continuing ability to find meaning and joy in life. One way to do this is to learn something new. Learning new activities not only adds meaning and joy to life but can also help to prevent mental decline. I was always interested in the historical story behind religions, so I signed up for an online college course presented by a seminary. So far so good. After each one-hour lecture I get excited about something new I learned.
Planning to vote in the next election is my other focus. It seems to me that they are trying to make that harder to do, but I love a challenge. Those are my thoughts from this morning. Tomorrow find a good spot to watch the day begin and go down memory lane. I would love to hear your story.
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