A common conversation that Julia and I share is one in which we discuss how we should have, or should not have, reacted to a particular situation. Sometimes it’s hypothetical. Sometimes it is something someone posted online that churned one or both of us up. And sometimes it is the result of an interaction with a friend or acquaintance. Not necessarily one of conflict either; when people’s lives intersect, we are often party to those moments when choices are about to be made that are important, and the closer one is to the person making the choice the harder it can be to keep one’s mouth shut. We are lucky to have a broad range of friends, but, for the most part, the majority of people we are interacting with are mostly 15-20 years younger than us, if not more.
With age comes wisdom, supposedly, and knowing when to take the high road and just keep silent is usually the best tactic in situations where emotions are running hot, or someone is on the brink of a bad decision you know they are going to make and won’t learn from unless they do make it. And when you’re in your twenties or even thirties, looking down that long road to people who are on the threshold of, or even through the door of, the fifties seems unfathomable.
The thing is, just as there really isn’t any reliable road map for how to act in situations as a twenty-something — because you haven’t experienced it yet — there’s equally no outline for those of us of middle years either. I am nothing like what I thought a forty-something should be. Hell, I’m hoping to know how to act forty before I hit fifty! And fifty?! Christ, I doubt I’ll be ready for that before I’m sixty-five.
I’m grateful for that. I’m glad I recognize I’m still finding my way, still evolving as a person. There is a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali that says:
“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
I like that. The last thing I want to do is come off as some old know-it-all who thinks it’s all figured out. Because it isn’t. And I don’t ever want it to be.
Writing this the evening of Easter Sunday, I’m grateful I wasn’t raised with a ton of dogma in my head. My parents exposed me to religion as a child, but I wasn’t forced into believing anything, or terrified into accepting someone else’s idea of truth, so I never really had to “unlearn” anything. Seems like that has been a major issue for scores of people, so I’m quite thankful it hasn’t been one of mine. I’m grateful I don’t carry any scars from being forced to believe something I really didn’t.
Ah, Spring, you may still be shy about showing your face for any length of time, but I can feel you’re here and I’m grateful, regardless of what you still try and throw our way.
Yesterday I put on last summer’s hiking shorts and shoes and hit the trail. While the snow is mostly gone in Missoula, up the Rattlesnake there is still a crust of snow and ice right at the trailhead and continuing up as far as I went. Still, I got in four or five (slippery) miles and it felt great to breathe the air and just be out in it.
The locals seem happy to see a change in the weather, and what a little sunlight will do to make a cozy bed out of a big ‘ole manure pile.
I’m grateful that sunny weather is just around the corner, with days growing longer and longer in which to enjoy this beautiful part of the world I’m lucky to live in.
Yesterday afternoon Sid and I piled into the car and drove to Spokane to see a rock show. It was 1:30 AM Missoula time when we initiated the drive back; by the time I dropped him off and walked through the front door at my house it was 4:30 AM. It had been a twelve hour trip, and I was beat. Well worth it, though.
What I’m grateful for is that we arrived home safely. The roads were clear and dry, and the weather was fine. I don’t worry about my driving, or even knowing when to stay on the road and when to pull off to get some rest. I worry about all the wildlife that share that corridor through two mountain passes and some otherwise thinly inhabited land. I don’t even much like driving the twelve miles or so home from Missoula after dark for the same reason. There’s not a lot to be done when fate brings a critter and even a conscientious driver together, though, unfortunately.
But we made it back no worse for the wear, with no untimely encounters with deer, elk (we saw some on the way over, though), moose, or anything else that draws breath.
I’ve probably mentioned this particular one before, but I’m going to do it again. Much as I get frustrated sometimes, and as weary as I am of airports and airplanes and all that hassle, I’m grateful that the day job I have has allowed me to see so much of the USA. It’s put me in Canada a few times, Mexico once or twice, and even the Czech Republic, but what it’s done best is allow me to see parts of this country I may not have otherwise. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity. International travel is fantastic, but there remain places in the US that other folks spend lifetimes dreaming of visiting, and that isn’t something to be taken for granted. If anything, it has fired me up to want to travel more, and spend more time in places where I’ve only scratched the surface.