This time, I was in college.
Already working 40 years in my career field, getting my degree after the fact was merely symbolic. But on a campus that went for miles at my age now with no short-term memory for where my classes were held, every day was Groundhog Day, consisting of 5 long and aimless jogs, finally stumbling into the right classrooms out of breath at the wrong times. The dismissal bells marked my arrivals with no time to rest, loathing the next trek to another forgotten campus classroom. Anxious and under pressure, it would be a miracle if I finally got (not earned) my degree at all without keeling over from another heart attack beforehand.
We’ve all awakened from this dream at some point. Mine just happens to be at 3am on a Saturday morning, pissed that I missed the opportunity to sleep in but so relieved to have woken up when I did.
That this time I was in college and not junior high, and carried an extra 40 pounds, fully grey and wrinkled, God was obviously mistaken. This scene was a dream that belonged on nights decades ago when I wasn’t waking up four times to go pee. So why now? It doesn’t fit my season of life.
Or does it?
I made myself a strong coffee and sat down in this very chair prompted to type in ssa.gov. I don’t know why that was the only website I felt compelled to consult at 3am this morning.
Let’s just say my benefit statement definitely won’t accommodate my retirement dreams. And the little bit of savings and investments I’ve accumulated since I swapped 8 of my prime earning years for 8 years of using drugs, on paper at least, my retirement years won’t be very golden.
I can only surmise that this poorly placed dream of constantly falling behind and arriving late to the game of life was connected to my own self-inflicted consequences of 8 years of bad decisions for which I’ve been completely forgiven.
Practically speaking, I’ll either need to die much earlier than planned or live the lives of all the struggling senior citizens I’ve met and helped in the past ten years of my employ. But I wouldn’t trade my 63 year path for anything.
My trek and experiences along the way have ultimately made me a very rich man in the things that matter most. Three wonderful adult children, three and soon to be four beautiful grandchildren, a few enduring friendships, and a faith that promises to deliver me to actual streets of gold once I’m gone.
My point? When you’re awake enough to realize you have what matters most of all in life, bad dreams, in the end, are just dreams. I’ve no time for fear or anxiety about my regrets, but I have plenty of time left to spend and bequeath riches upon those whose continued presence make life as close to heaven on earth as I can know for now.
Live for today, and let tomorrow worry about itself.–Matthew 6:34
And with that, I need a second mug of coffee. Happy Saturday.