Monthly Archives: February 2022

The Time of my life

Good morning, yesterday

You wake up, and time has slipped away And suddenly it’s hard to find The memories you left behind Remember, do you remember?

It was 1975 when I was just shy of 16, counting myself lucky to have found a legally licensed friend to drive us both on double dates to sophomore prom. As with all proms, it was themed after a popular song of the time. Paul Anka was big back then and “Times of your Life” had just hit Kasey Kasem’s top 10, earning it the theme of our adolescent gala. Today at 61, single and dateless for 11 years, I heard the song again this past Sunday morning on the oldies station and sang along with all the memories it wafted up from days gone by. Back then, and as adolescents with seemingly immortal lives ahead of them often do, we thought it was all about us. We’d understood the song to be about the hope of what lied ahead of us, not of one man’s reflection backward on those experiences which had already long passed into memory.

Tinkering along in the garage as old men do, I was signing a song that brought back so many great memories of high school, while at the same time realizing it was truly a song of reflection on times and experiences long since passed. And a lot has passed indeed. Almost half a century. I thought “So what do I have to show for those 50 years?” What have been those times of my life in particular they say race through your mind like celluloid as you wave and take your final bow only to retire your sore ash self dusted to the four winds over a favorite place you once knew and remembered?

Apart from a knack for run-on sentences, a lot.

My list would first include people like my kids and grandkids, my family, my best friends, my dog, a few bosses, a few pastors, several complete strangers, all of whom might either not exist or whose lives would otherwise be quite different without having spent at least some time or interactions with me. Indeed, they represent the most significant times of my life.

Next would be circumstances. My marriage, even my divorce, my family ad agency, my drug addiction, my recovery, my work with poor seniors and the homeless, and the times I spent writing stories about all these times of my life for others to experience. Finally, I’ve spent much of my life urging my kids to “like things, and love people,” And as one who just recently gave away 95% of my possessions as part of a purge while moving my residence, I condensed all things that ever mattered at all into a 5×5 storage space, which is still more than I can take with me. I’m not terribly thankful for the things I’ve accrued over half a century. In fact, I can’t think of any item that has made any time of my life any more memorable. Honest reflection makes gratitude easy. At 61, I’m most thankful that memorable people and memorable experiences, good and bad, are all that seem to matter anymore. At 16 and self-centered with my whole life ahead of me, I never imagined that this time of my life would be the time of my life.

Good morning, yesterday.

Angels on dispatch

We never really stop worrying about our kids even when they’re adults.

It’s a lot like wearing a heart monitor that goes off at all times of the day and night alerting you to pray for at least one of them at that moment.

I just woke from a nightmare about my kids and my fatherly superstition alerted me to take pause. Of course, I can’t risk a 1am text or a call but I can always risk a prayer. They’re entirely unaware I spend these times tuning frequencies to their private channels to spy if they might be hurt, happy, worried, in harm’s way or just in secret need of something no one else may understand, save the one who’s known them since before they were born.
I’ll have no need to teach them this parental peculiarity. They’ll learn to trust this phenomenon all by themselves when we are long gone and their own are away at school, asleep down the hall, or on a midnight road of crazy drivers protected only by the angels we’ve dispatched to their mercy by knee from our midnight bedsides.

Kids may be all grown up but they’ll never outgrow our duties and responsibilities to psychically worry and silently intervene as I am, and perhaps you are, right now at this very moment.

All lies are one size.

Today was my third lie in a week that didn’t have to be.
Nobody was harmed, but my conscience has taken one hell of a beating.
Gone unchecked, lying gets a little more effortless each time.
My third lie was easier than the first, and I suspect the seventh might be easier than the third if this trend continues.
There’s no such thing as a little white lie.
All lies are one size, and none come in white.

I can’t say it was an epiphany or revelation driving to work this morning. I’ve known right from wrong the better part of my life. The worse parts, not so much.
I was tired and not up for what the day was about to unleash on me. So from the driver’s seat, planning my fourth lie with the best cough I could muster, I picked up my phone while on the freeway fastlane opting to text my boss who would certainly detect dishonesty in my voice message that I was not feeling well. One tap closer to deception with two words left to go, I threw the phone down and barked a loud, righteous yell. I won’t share the stream of disgusting terms I used to describe myself at that moment, but I was pretty convincing and feeling bad. Not bad because I was actually sick but because I was deceiving myself once again.
For me, it can’t be good enough to be a “generally honest guy.” After the decade long dark history from which I’d recently escaped, honesty in both the generals and the specifics is at the core of living sober, which for me means being aware of my insidious abilities to lie to myself and to others with convincing skill. I can no longer follow white rabbits down those dark paths.
So I broke the cycle, narrowly escaped my fourth lie, and got to work with sobriety intact. For now.
None of us knows what insidious mindsnakes will invade tomorrow’s brain. We can only hope to catch it in time without getting bitten by the lie that binds.