Looking back over the years

Pine Branch in the Evening Light

Sunset on some pines along Raymond's Gut

My mother used to tell me that the older you get, the faster time flies.  When you are fifteen waiting for your first driver’s license, that concept is a little hard to grasp.  When turning sixty happened a couple of years ago, you wonder who put afterburners on the hours of the day.

The comic strip “Pickles” is one of my favorites, except that the image of old age that Earl projects has little to do with the reality that I see. I don’t spend much time on a park bench or in an easy chair.  While I don’t have a “normal” job, I am busier than I have ever been.  Just when I think I have reached a barrier, that I cannot possibly get over, something pushes me over it. I think that almost everything I do, I do better today than I did ten years ago. Yet I approach life a lot differently now than I did then.

All the recent birthday wishes that I got on Facebook made me realize just how many people whose paths I have crossed over the years. As the emails came in, I thought how neat it is that someone in British Columbia could take time out of their busy day to send birthday wishes to someone that they haven’t seen in over twenty years.  I really appreciate all the Facebook friends that took the time out of their busy schedules to wish me happy birthday.  The birthday wishes from Facebook friends came from people in their teens to those in their seventies.

Some of the people wishing me well have known me probably longer than I have known myself.  One friend took time out to wish me happy birthday during an especially difficult time. His sister, who was a wonderful family friend when we lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, died last week in a car accident.  I cannot imagine the grief his family is facing as they come together to bury his sister.

It is really hard to face the reality of someone dying who is the age of your own children.  My mother used to say that no parent should have to outlive their children. I think that I understand what she meant now that I have a few years on me.

As we age, many of us get busier and busier, but we know that some of the dreams that we once had for ourselves might never happen. Yet we live in the hope that the dreams of our children and grandchildren might still be possible. The belief that as we pass the torch, it will burn even brighter with future generations keeps our mind focused beyond our short life span.

Still the thought that I might be around to see my granddaughter graduate from high school and then college is a great motivation to not let age catch up with me. With that thought I clocked a couple of nice long hikes today.

I am looking forward to lots of milestones along the way with our granddaughter.  I just hope learning how to steer the tricycle comes quickly since my ankle has just recovered from rescuing an out of control, headed-for-a-ditch youngster a couple weeks ago.

It is probably no surprise to anyone that knows me that my wife and I continue to have dreams that are not out of reach, and I still have high hopes for my own children. I might walk quietly into the night, but it will not be because I got bored.

Life has taught me to never hesitate making that connection with an old friend. It is too easy for that friend to disappear into the shadows while seemingly more important things get in the way.

I have also learned that there is a lot of virtue in approaching life with an open mind and an open heart.  Most scores are not worth settling, and I would really rather not waste my time being enemies with someone.

I have much more important things to do like talk about jelly beans with my granddaughter or savor those bits of everyday life that our children share with us once in a while.  Then there are those walks every day when I have a chance to catch a feathered friend in a perfect pose. And as the weather warms, it will be time to get back on the water. There are fish to be caught, fishing stories to swap, and beautiful days on the water to enjoy whether the fish are biting or not.

Then there are those quiet times with my wife when I say something, and she understands completely what I am saying without me even getting the complete thought finished. Of course there are still tomatoes to grow and plenty of tomato sandwiches yet to eat. But the tomatoes and fish are just fun stuff or perhaps the window dressing around our lives. Only when those things happen with people that are important to us do they have real meaning.

The closer you are to the people around you, the better life is.  The more you give to them, the more you get in return.

None of us will ever figure out life, all we can do is live it to the best of our ability and take care of those we love and be thankful for those who care enough to be friends.

With those thoughts in mind, I am headed to bed, and if I make it through another night and am blessed enough to see another sunrise, I will once again be thankful that I have been given another day to live and love.