What The Young Man Doesn’t Know

I put $60 worth of gas in my car this week, and I’ll be doing it again tomorrow. Have to – there’s not much unnecessary driving these days, and the necessary driving is a slightly Type-A creating, headache of a twice-daily experience. It kills the soul and saps energy faster than it empties the pocketbook.

Funny thing is that I can afford the gas (worked hard a lot of years to be able to say that). Getting a raise wouldn’t do a thing to fix the problem I’ve got. I can’t afford the calories!

I mean, the commute has exhausted me, making me far too sedentary and even “uninteresting” (which saps even more energy – see “vicious circle” in your Funk and Wagnall’s). So being prone to getting overweight easily (not to mention high cholesterol and acid reflux), I have to watch the diet carefully. The days of beer and Buffalo Hot Wings at the neighborhood pub are a distant memory.

Ah – youth lost!

Did you get that? Here I am, with half of China and Burma destroyed, politics a frustrating mess and the economic uncertainties at home enough to make you fear for your job, and I’m complaining about calories! [Where are your priorities, man? You had it so easy in your youth that you only worry about your waistline now??? – ed.]

Well, let me tell you, I hated those days of working in a cafeteria line for meals, and being a long way from people I knew – just like everyone else. It’s sort of natural.

It’s an ugly way to be, feeling sorry for yourself, you know. And sooner or later – later, in my case – you have to own up to the fact that you’re being an idiot when you do that. There are much tougher rows to hoe, after all, than the ones we suffer through as youth in this country, and sometimes you just have to make yourself count your blessing. It’s hard to see that sometimes the cards you’re dealt are good enough.

So to get out of the funk I started counting the good times. Literally. Made a list. What surprised me was that, after counting the one or two absolute best experiences that I had been lucky to have, I wanted to count some other good days too – days that were exceptional in their own right, but not quite up there with the one or two that made the top of my list. Then the “top” of my list had to include them, and it got harder to decide what the best time of my life was. There were quite a few contenders, it seems.

And the list keeps getting longer. No, it’s not that I’m getting older, that’s not what I mean. I mean that the number of times that I consider Goodtm now, but didn’t then, grows. Things and people that had just passed over me began to mean something, and sometimes they were people I met only once or twice. Even the hard times had some good in them, and what I didn’t know, was that stuff – both good and bad – was right around the corner. Lots of it.

Funny how that works, young man.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

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