Sunday, May 27, 2012

Getting Older

Yesterday I was playing baseball in the backyard with my boys, and a memory came to me from 35 years ago.

My friend C and I would go out in the back yard, set up a makeshift home plate and pitcher's rubber, and pitch to each other.

One of us would pitch, the other catch; back and forth, for hours. There was no batter, and no hits. Only strikeouts and walks. The catcher made the calls, there was no arguing.

We had fun like that for hours on end, day after day. It was just one of many memories I have of that friendship. C and I have stayed close over the years, we still talk frequently.

As I looked back at those days, I thought about the kids we were--young, innocent, our whole lives ahead.

I remember at C's wedding, 21 years ago, his mother saying she never would have imagined C and I would end up being a doctor and a pastor.

And no one would have imagined that we would now be facing the challenges we are--one of us going through a painful divorce, the other struggling to hold it together while supporting a wife with cancer.

As I stood in the backyard and remembered those days of pitching and catching, I was gripped by a powerful feeling of nostalgia, a feeling that started in my chest and spread through my whole body, like a wave--strong yet warm.

I missed those boys, and the freedom of life at that stage. I thought of where my friend is now, and hurt for the pain he is going through. At the same time, I thought that those days seemed both forever ago, and just a little more than yesterday.

 I've never thought much about mid-life crises, at least for myself. I never felt my age, so wasn't as concerned with getting older.

20 years ago, 50 seemed ancient. Not so much now. It still sounds old, but doesn't feel as old (except on the mornings when I run). But the truth is, I'm sort of in denial; not really grasping the idea that in three years I'll be 50.

Each year we are closer to the end of life, and further from the beginning, but I never really thought about that until I was 40. I know I've lived more than half my life, and that's an unsettling thought.

I also look back at what I've accomplished, and wonder what I still have left to accomplish. I haven't done as much as I wish. I won't go there--I'm a pretty positive person, and not one to sit and lament or complain.

I am very self-aware, I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I am relatively OK with who I am. There is still a lot I want to do, and I guess the pressure now is time. Is there enough time to do what I still want to do?

One thing I have learned to do is slow down, look back, and find joy in the memories. I remember when I was younger, I didn't really enjoy looking back. It made me sad to remember a good time that was over, a season of life that had passed.

But now I find that the memories can actually bring me joy. I can close my eyes and go back to times and places that are gone, but that were good, and meaningful. Rather than regret that they are gone, I find that the memories can lift me up, warm my heart, make me feel good about all that has happened in my life.

I'm going to spend some time writing about some of those memories. Memoir is the type of writing I have most enjoyed. It helps me realize that I have been very blessed in the people and places that have made up my life.

I also find I can look back with a healthy attitude when I am satisfied in the present, and this weekend, I really am.

Jamie is in the midst of cancer treatment, so there is a lot of uncertainty there. We are going through a restructuring at work, and facing a lot of change there. Ten months after moving across the country, I still miss my family and friends in Virginia.

Yet in the midst of it, I have spent a lot of time lately thinking how great my life is. Jamie and I are getting along really well. I love spending time with my kids--we make the most of every minute, especially on the weekends.

And I am reminded that no matter where I am, it all comes down to relationships. My wife and kids. My in-laws. My new friends at work and church. And the joy of the memories of all the people and relationships that have touched my life and made me who I am. I have a good life.


Andy Gibson said...

Nice piece Todd - I loved it!

Andy Gibson said...

Nice piece Todd - I loved reading it.