Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Deposits and Withdrawals

When we were all young and dumb, the world was a rainbow landscape full of wonderful  adventures and opportunities. Each of us set out to become whatever we thought we should be…at the time. The world was our oyster and we meant to have it all.

It’s funny how reality evolves and our past lives and aspirations finally catch up with us. That winding road called ‘my life’ is either running smooth as asphalt or rough like gravel. And yet none of us want to get off the road even if the ride isn’t what we expected it to be after all these years. Something like my life in pictures.

It’s been forty or fifty years since we turned twenty-one and shed our cloak of anonymity to adorn ourselves with the costume of adulthood. Now we’re at a point in our lives where reflection is more than a glass of chardonnay framed within a sunset or a cold brew among high school buddies. And there is no going back as I learned in thecompany of old men.

Our current life style is an accumulation of habits born long before our birth. For some of us it was modeled after our parent’s pioneering excursion into life. For others, it was a process of discovery, loss, acceptance and rejection. And finally our life style became us on a daily basis and we weren’t even aware of it. It’s only now that the accumulation of excess and/or scarcity raises its hidden head.

Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying that life is like a bank account. How you use it is solely your determination. You can withdraw it in a hurry and live a very short life. Or you can be diligent with your withdrawals and live, hopefully, much longer.

We can always try to rectify some of our mistakes or enhance our positive steps but age and reticence to change are usually huge obstacles to overcome. We’ve let life’s ebb and flow (our gypsy muse) guide us in this rhythm of life. For most of us, the process was organic and without a lot of thought. The first apartment, the first job, first time camping overnight during a long Minnesota winter.

And now quite unexpectedly, we find ourselves both benefiting and/or suffering from past investments of our youth. The things we did to ourselves, the deposits we made on our bodies, our finances, our love life and our children. We’re now at the stage of making withdrawals from our youthful decisions and indiscretions.
The life investments have been made, squandered, lost, accumulated, divested and set aside. Some things worked out and some things didn’t. Now we have the residue of our wisdom or luck or mistakes to live with for the rest of our lives. And all those life steps are now just a memory.
A career was hatched, grown and nurtured or changed many times over. That part of our lives is over unless boredom and fear of retirement pushes us in a new direction.

We abused our body with youthful indiscretion or ignored it or kept the blood flowing by never stopping. Now that investment or abuse is either paying back dividends or punishing us with worn out body parts along with the inevitable aging process.

My bank account of friends isn’t the greatest. A reluctance to make an effort back then, despite the chiding by my wife, has left me lacking in that area. Yet what I do have in the vault is now priceless. One of my aspirations is to mine those rich veins of past friendships to see if I might unearth more nuggets there. Occasionally I’ll strike gold and rekindle a long lost almost forgotten friendship from the dusty archives of my past. It’s a blast. And immensely satisfying.

Those random discoveries got me thinking about other friendships; past and future, strong and vapid, present and omnipresent. I thought about the friends I’ve had over the years. Some of them shared isolated points in my life; high school, college and work. Some were but fleeting incisions in the tenderness of my youth. Others were shared experiences like the military; isolated, vacuous and destined to crash with each discharge celebration where inane behavior in the barracks seemed to make perfect sense back then.

Most of those memories are lost now in that vacuum called life experiences. A few were found again but most are just fragrant memories of a life well spent. Like separating wheat from the shaft, I’d love to rekindle a few of those friendships and nourish them back to the point of commonality we once shared. A kind of harvesting from my lost years.

The cliché that you can never have too many friends dissolves over the pages of Facebook where collecting friends can be a cyber-game for some folks, devoid of meaningful contact and concern. Having friends on Facebook isn’t the same as having real friends who care and share and actually want to be somebody in your life. Big difference there! For some folks it’s like grade school best friends.

I guess that’s why I want to continue seeking out old friends and acquaintances who might share my same values and interests.  Even if it’s an exercise in futility like looking for Susan’s house. The past can’t be replicated nor ignored. It can be accepted for what it was even if we couldn’t see it at the time. It’s all cloaked in that most evolving, translucent, vapid metaphor called relationships. Together they fill our thoughts and dreams and aspirations with dream-like illusions we’d like to believe in. It’s a game we play on a daily basis as we go about the business of living.

But there’s one group that isn’t into that game-playing. Children are the most transparent of all relationships. No pretense, no pretending. They haven’t learned those life lessons of pretend, illusion and facial facades. It’s all there in front of us and easy to recognize.

So it all comes down to friends and family and the most honest among those two groups.
I am in a good place in my life. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore! As an artist, I love creating stories in many different genres and I intend to continue writing until my pen dries up or I go blind. I’d like to take my true friends along on this journey of discovery of self and life and whatever else comes my way.

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