Last night, my brother, Gene, posted a link on Facebook to a music trailer by country western singer Alan Jackson. The song was “Remember When,” and it was an examination of that special time in life when everything was new and when growing old seemed just an isolated concept reserved for others. I know when I turned 30 I wasn’t alone in thinking that reaching my 70s was something I would never experience. It’s like that for everyone. I just know it is. No matter how much time passes, you’ll never be “old.”
But, if we’re lucky, we do eventually grow old (gracefully, we hope) and suddenly, instead of looking ahead at all the new and exciting things we’ve yet to do for the first time, we begin experiencing things that we may be doing for the very last time. The last time I played golf, for example, was about ten years ago. Did I know it was the last time? Hell no. But it was. I haven’t been fishing in the Catskills for nearly two years. Could it be that I have done that for the last time? I hope not, but it is possible. And that’s okay.
As a young man, I never quite understood the “eat, drink, and be merry . . .” thing. It was just something found in the biblical books of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah. Today, at nearly 74, I understand it only too well. Every day I am reminded that what I do, indeed, I could be doing for the very last time. Just knowing that has changed my life—but in a good way. I enjoy every second that I spend with my four children, and especially with my two grandchildren. I relish every meal, every movie, every book. I cherish every second I spend with my wife, even if it’s just sitting and watching Wheel of Fortune while we eat dinner together.
When I go to the post office, or have my hair cut, or fill up the gas tank in my car, I do so with a different attitude now. I take a little more time to engage those individuals with whom I come in contact. The mundane has become . . . not so . . . mundane. Lunches and breakfasts with friends are more enjoyable, because I’m listening a little more carefully and hearing more as a result. I don’t allow myself to feel rushed any longer. Time appears to stand still—almost. It’s a wonderful place to be.
So, this weekend, if you’re getting “up there” in years, think of the words in Alan Jackson’s song, “Remember When.” Don’t worry about what’s over the horizon, or how many things there are on your “to do” list. Don’t be in such a hurry. Slow down a bit. Take some time to talk to your neighbor, your wife, your kids. Stop and smell the flowers. Eat, drink, and be merry . . . I know I will. You should too!