2019-02-06 / Editorials

Don Lively

NOW VS. THEN

(Reprinted from 2011)

Why is it that when you’re a kid with lungs like zeppelins you only have to blow out a handful of candles on that yearly cake in your honor, but when you reach the age when there are dozens of little flames to extinguish it requires several huffs and puffs and results in a few minutes of light headedness?

Something about that seems out of whack.

When I was a young man a few days growth of whiskers on my ruddy face looked rugged. Manly. Dangerous. A bright auburn shadow such as Eric the Red surely sported long ago.

Nowadays when I don’t shave for a day or three I look more like Gabby Hayes.

Somewhere along the way things changed.

Or maybe I did.

When I was young I often spoke, or more likely blurted, without thinking. That rashness was almost always accompanied by consequences.

Now that I have more than a few journeys around the sun under my recently decreasing in size belt, I’ve learned that it’s okay to allow my brain to engage before I pop the clutch on my mouth.

About the time my interest first turned to putting together words and phrases with the intention of telling stories that somebody might want to read, I was also learning to type. I learned from Coach Howie who taught typing and bookkeeping and was an assistant football coach. The classroom was stocked with noisy old Royal typewriters. My best effort was around twenty-seven words a minute with only twenty-two mistakes.

These days I have a state of the art word processor that tells me when I’ve misspelled a word or used improper grammar, and which will suggest alternative word usages if I ask it to. The gaggle of bits and bytes that’s wrapped around my writing machine will allow me to do research on any subject known to man, lets me instantly chat with friends anywhere on Earth and will send “mail“ in the blink of a Southern Belle’s eyelash.

I still type about twenty-seven words a minute with only twenty-two mistakes.

When I was a young college graduate I thought I was adequately prepared to slay any dragon foolish enough to stand in my path. Learned in my field of study. All the time and money spent obtaining that degree would now pay off and I’d make a mark on the planet like nobody ever had.

Ready to take on the whole world.

Now that I’m older I know that was a crock of donkey dumplings.

My true education came from working twenty jobs before I found a career.

From somehow keeping the bills paid even when the paychecks were slender.

From staying in church and learning at the feet of the saints.

And largely from making and raising three kids, finding out it’s not nearly as easy as Daddy and Mama and the uncles and aunts made it look, and after spending years wondering why my friends with kids didn’t do a better job of raising theirs.

That ignorant arrogance turned to rational realization at some point when I was trying to ride herd on my own three younguns all under five years old.

When I was a lot younger, a lot stronger, and apparently not very bright, I could lift the front end of a Volkswagen Bug and drag it a few feet if it was in neutral. I suppose I thought that would impress somebody. It’s probably the reason I’ve had back pain since the time cars came with eight track tape decks.

I haven’t tried it for a while.

These days I prefer to pull my grandchildren around in a little red wagon. They’re much easier to amaze and I can pull the Radio Flyer without risking a rupture.

There were times in my life as a young man when I felt like I might die if some sweet young thing didn’t pay more attention to me.

I’ve reached the age now when I finally truly understand that Somebody did die for me. Somebody who gives me all of His attention.

Life, in my opinion, like wine and like George Strait music, gets better as the years pass.

Not that I didn’t love being a kid, full of spit and vinegar. For instance, picking up that Beetle might not have dazzled whoever I intended it to, but I remember feeling quite proud of the feat.

But nowadays, I think I understand what’s really important.

So when I hear somebody lament that they’d love to be young again I just smile.

Not me.

I like it right here.

“Experience and treachery will overcome youth and enthusiasm every time.” Unknown.

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