A man doesn’t become wise simply by growing old. He has to get to a point where he looks in the mirror, sees the wrinkled image transposed on the memory of who he once was and gasps, What the f*** happened?
Startled by the wake up call reminding him that he is on the downside of the apex, he makes the decision to suck it up and deconstruct his life to find out how he got to where he is.
He starts by being relentlessly honest. For some men that’s a first but this is no time for sugar coating. Is this all there is, he hums to himself a la Peggy Lee, stopping abruptly when he realizes he is old enough to actually remember the sultry voiced singer. What happened to make my life so different from what I thought it would be, he asks himself? For the first time in many years he doesn’t shirk from recalling the memories of how the wounds of childhood were inflicted.
It hurts, but he rubs his fingers over the scar tissue formed in the murky past and identifies the excursions that dog him still. He has done this before but the difference now is he sees with a wider perspective; he views the incidents that discredited him as teaching moments rather than accusatory reminders of his inadequacies. That eases the pain.
To balance the negatives he makes a list of the Thanksgiving dinners ladling gravy at the Salvation Army mission and the weddings and births when he danced that funny jig of his.
But he is still stuck in place. There is a wave of fear roiling in his stomach. What if he fails going forward? As frightening, what if he succeeds? When he realizes both armies have been commandeered from the same source, he relaxes and let’s go of outcome. He is free to embrace the future.
Standing at the beginning of a new day he makes a plan of action to which he commits himself. He is happy.
That’s it. Simple sequence of actions to take... and I’ve been at it for the past thirty-five years.
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