I had begun to feel that going to college basketball games at my alma mater. Though I was increasingly shocked by the youth of the students, old, familiar haunts helped take the edge off. More recently, the guy in the mirror was looking a little more haggard than I remembered, his posture a bit more stooped. I noticed that I’m more inclined to amble. When I move, I’m far more deliberate than I used to be. And yes, the white in the beard is inching north.
Reminders of the passage of time are everywhere, and as I grow older, it passes a heckuva lot quicker than it used to. Take yesterday’s baseball Hall of Fame class — four guys who definitely haven’t been retired long enough to be eligible — wasn’t Mariano Rivera just pitching? When I was young, old guys retired, but most athletes had been playing the game for as long as I remembered. Why wouldn’t that continue to be the case? Now, their kids are playing. At a minor league baseball game, it once shocked me to see a kid was younger than me. “Wait until they are young enough to be your kid,” Dad warned. Yep, I’m there, and I can imagine Grandpop would have another perspective.
By the measure of “It Was a Very Good Year” — and what greater measure of life is there than Francis Albert — I am well past the small town girls and soft summer nights. Even the city girls who lived up the stairs. I won’t yet say the blue-blooded girls of independent means, but at this point, some classmates are already grandparents. Others, whose children were toddlers when I last saw them, are now parents of college students.
Yet, with the exception of that face staring back at me, I feel like the same young fool I have all my life. And, in the end, I suppose that is the source of my greatest disappointment. I’d always looked forward to an age when we all didn’t act like we did in high school. Hasn’t happened yet. Of course, I was warned about that, too.
With that in mind, no regrets. I may not yet be in the “autumn of the year,” but I’ve definitely felt the days growing short. So, here’s a warning: I’m going to be a lot more selfish with my time. I’m not going to do things I don’t want to do. I refuse to spend time being unhappy. I’m not going to be paralyzed by a fear of failure or consequences. There are places to be, things to see, experiences to be had. And I’ve got a whole mess of books on the shelf I plan on getting through.
I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to live your life. I’ll leave that to the arrogant youngster I used to be. I only encourage you to find your happiness. Our time is too short to look back in regret. Myself? I plan to savor that “vintage wine from fine old kegs.”