For a lot of folks my age, the final tabulation is near completion. Most of our past accomplishments count for little in today’s marketplace. There are few laurels left to adorn and accolades too often reference times past instead of the future. For those of us still moving forward there are new standards to focus on to keep life interesting and fulfilling.
“So what’s with this nostalgic rearview mirror look back at life?” my wife asks me frequently. I respond defensively that it’s an important part of my current writing stage. Sharon finds it a lot of hooey. Go figure!
The reason Sharon and I have been happily married for over forty-six years is simply because eighty percent of the time we go in her direction. Not only is it easier that way; quite honestly I don’t care. Now Sharon would argue that figure is about twenty-five percent short of what it should be. But that’s another blog entirely.
To continue with that mathematical analysis, fifteen percent of the time Sharon and I are in total agreement on the most important issues in our lives; raising our children, finances, etc. Five percent of the time there is no agreement and no compromise between us. We have simply learned to live with our rock-solid five-percent differences. One such discussion point is my ‘living in the past.’
Sharon is adamant that one should not dwell on the past.” Let the memories fall where they may and move on with your life,” She will argue. I feel quite the opposite. I believe that if your feet are firmly planted in ‘today’ you can go back and realistically evaluate your past for what it really was.
At times, I’ve been made to feel that too much of my writing is about my past. It’s certainly true that some of my writing references back to the sixties. But I refuse to do is live my life by default. An examination of my many past lives lends clarity to my present life and fuels story ideas for the future.
I would argue that I’m not stuck on the past as much as I’m exploring new territories by examin-ing old experiences, relationships, events and other phenomena that impacted my life for a lifetime. One argument I hear occasionally is to just focus on the future because ‘isn’t that where it’s at?’ Maybe but I think I can do both or all three.
In my world, I am moving forward by recapturing my past in books and plays and movies and songs. I am also claiming a place in the present and peering forward for a taste of the future.
Mywestern novels were born in the back pew of the St. Louis Church chapel during daily mass in grade school. They were enhanced by black and white images on the big screen of the Gem Theater on West Seventh Street in Saint Paul. They are a salute to an old grainy black and white John Wayne and John Ford images of Americana. They are the embodiment of a youthful imagination held captive by the excitement and thrills of riding horseback on a Saturday after-noon.
‘Lovein the A Shau’ is about recapturing the confusion and excitement of growing up in the sixties and time spent in the military. It is a semi-autobiographical journey back in time of youthful exuberance and fond hopes for the future.
‘Debris;the trilogy’ is a reflection of life in Palm Springs on ‘the other side.’ It is about capturing the many facades of this palace of smoke and mirrors. It is the surrounding mountains and rough-hewn individuals who traverse its summits and canyons and plateaus.
‘Followthe Cobbler’ is a mind-game set to words. It’s an adventure around the world created in lieu of that tramp steamer I never got to sail around the world.
‘ApartmentManagement’ reflects my life as a landlord and the lessons learned therein.
So in the end I won’t apologize for a focus on the past when my feet are firmly planted in the present and my head is facing forward. I’ll keep moving in many directions even as I let my eyes drift to that rearview mirror etched in my brain. On that final sunset ride I want to be able to say that I lived my life the way I wanted to. No apologies needed or given.