I think optimism is great; if you end up with the people and places you love still in your life- or at least enough of them- then you shouldn't be too down. Being appreciative of what you have is a wonderful thing, as well. Sometimes we all should read a book on Europe in the winter and spring of 1944-5. Or the Gulag Archipelego ( which I made it about halfway through years ago). Volunteer at a retirement home or a children's hospital. Odds are that if you have access to reading this, life ain't so bad.
Me, I don't try to plan out the future. I don't give myself a list of accomplishments I'd like to do this year. I just try to take advantage of the opportunities that drift by. Bucket lists are fine for those with more resources than I to make them come true, so I don't work towards things unlikely to happen.
Drinkin' and dreamin', knowing
damn well I can't go
I'll never see Texas, LA, or
But here at this table, I'm able
to leave it behind
and drink till I'm dreamin'
a thousand miles out of my mind.....
There are things I'd like to fix about myself, but they aren't the kind of things you make a list of at the beginning of the year and check off your boxes for twelve months. My battles are each day, sometimes each hour, and it makes no sense to sit back and plan things back at CENTCOM when somebody's got to be in the trenches with an AK. (In case you couldn't guess, political correctness remains NOT one of those things I intend to work on daily.) There are a lot of you who will read this- perhaps all of you- who know what I mean. And some of you can still work the daily battles into the long-term plan. I'm just not wired that way.
...we had joy, we had fun,
we had seasons in the sun
but the hills that we climbed
were just seasons out of time...
January was named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces- one faced to the future, the other to the past. I think somewhere along the line, I lost that front face. Especially as I get older, I see the past more often (if not more clearly). It seems like ever time I open "front-facer's" eyes, I see less and less of the world I knew and more of a world I've no real interest in. A world where kids talk sexual-innuendo and crime riddled rhymes to a computerized backbeat and call it music. Where we can spend a six figure check to tear all the trees off a street, narrow the sidewalks, and call it beautification, and tell cops, firemen, and teachers we have no money for them. Where the thought of marriage being one man-one woman makes you a prude or a homophobe. Where I should apologize to the Japanese for Hiroshima and forget about Nanking, apologize to Muslims and forget 911, and tell the Israelis they ask too much and forget the Holocaust.
Where God's name cannot be spoken, lest I offend someone.
Lovers really fall in love to stay,
stand beside each other come what may
A promise really something people kept,
not just something that they'd say, and then forget
Families really bow their heads to pray
and daddies really never go away
oh, Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days...
The unfortunate thing about such vision is that one tends to relive their sins over and over. I find myself the hardest person to forgive, and you never know when some old scar will tear open near as deep as it was at the time. And so I slowly open the other set of eyes, the "Prometheus" rather than the "Epimetheus", and look to the present, and the future.
While surfing around on Christmas Eve night, I stumbled onto Findagrave.com, and the page for the cemetery near my boyhood home. I saw among its slumberers two old classmates that I hadn't known had died. I searched for more, and saw the names of older people I'd known as a child and a young man, people I'd hoisted a brew with, people who taught me or fed me, or chaperoned me on class trips. Sometimes I think the tears I shed for "stars" like Fess Parker or James Arness are just collections of the tears for these people, never let out until it can be in the name of someone I never met.
Time moves on, people die. And when you are 50, they die a lot more often than when you were 20.
Time, you left me standing there
like a tree growing all alone
the wind just stripped me bare, stripped me bare
Time, the past has come and gone
the future is far away
and now only lasts one second,
Can you teach me 'bout tomorrow and all the pain and sorrow
'Cause tomorrow's just another day
and I don't believe in
You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where I'm going,
I must be out of my mind
thinkin' about time...
And if should die tomorrow,
just lay me down to sleep...
I can't live the past, I can't see the future- all I can do is each day. So when the clock hits 12 and revelers drink, lovers kiss, and pundits type out their cute little story about babies born at 12:01:07, I'll be doing what I always do.
Watching the video to A Long December about a hundred times. Cry for those I miss, drink to absent friends.
And when I eventually wake up the next day, take some ibuprofin, get some lunch, and watch football. And fight the day's battles once again, thank God for all I have once again, give Laurie and Scrappy hugs again, and text Happy New Years to the kids.
There's got to be a morning after
we're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
and we'll escape the darkness
we won't be searching anymore....