Friday, April 16, 2010

Back to the Future

Sponsored by The Five Stairsteps
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get brighter. . .
Some day, yeah
We'll get it together and we'll get it undone
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter. . .
Right now, right now
(you just wait and see how things are gonna be)

Heard this song on a '70s station the other day, and flashed back to a sunny Spring day mid-decade wherein Mr. Simply and I were playing ball on the front lawn with our little dog Chester. It was our senior year, and within months we would be embarking on the great adventure of our lives--or so it seemed.

 Mr. Simply with Chester
in the Spring of 1975

I was momentarily overwhelmed with sadness: In the intervening 35 years, the future we so looked forward to has come and gone. In that long-ago Spring we dreamed the dreams of the young and innocent--of the careers we would have, and of family, and home. We joked about what we would do with our first million dollars. We envisioned vacations and cars, and college friendships ripening over the years. We thought we would always be healthy and strong, and that we would always be in love like we were then. We thought we would be happy. We thought, in short, that we would go on forever.

But things never got easier, or brighter, not really. Our heads never got lighter, nor did we get it all together and get it undone. Life is not like that. An older and much wiser friend of my mom's tried to tell us back then that "These are the good old days" but we didn't get it. The young never do.

Sure, we've had plenty more good times since that long-ago sunny Spring afternoon. We've had good laughs, good loving, and long periods of contentment. We kept to our ideals, with both of us having public service careers and adopting a child. But we've also had what we never envisioned then: all the losses of people and pets, deteriorating health, mounting debt, and friendships that fell by the wayside.

Mom's friend was right: We already walked in the rays of a beautiful sun. You can see it right there in the photograph. Sure, we lived in a rented shack on a dirt road back then, with a tin roof and an oil-burning furnace in the front room which provided our only heat. We were still in school, and only one of us was working. But God, we were so young, and healthy, and in love, and we were already a family with our little dog Chester.

I was flooded with tears for a moment, right there in the dentists' office (where else do you hear all '70s all of the time?) and I followed that with a few melancholy hours wherein I would have given anything to be back in that sunny yard with my skinny college boy and Chester, still barely out of puppy-hood, all our naïveté and optimism intact.

But eventually it dawned on me that I was making the same mistake now that I made then, and not just by wishing to have back a past that's over and gone. We still tell each other that things will be better this year, or next quarter, or after Mr. Simply's treatment is through, or whenever we [fill in the blank]. We joke about what we will do with our lottery winnings, now that it's pretty obvious we will never earn a million of our own. I realized that we are still longing for a future that's over and gone--hell, it's coming and going even as I write this. We're missing the great adventure of our lives that's happening right now.

Which thought jerks me right back to the present, wherein it's Spring again, except 2010 instead of 1975. We may spend more time in bed or crashed on the couch than we ever thought we would, but I still have work, with people I care about. We may have bills coming out of our ears, but we also have managed to put something aside for a rainy day. We get by. The sun is shining bright and birds are singing. We have our "snug little home", as Mr. Simply calls it, instead of the shack, and it's Diana and the parrots now instead of Chester. And perhaps most importantly of all, we still love each other deeply.

Thirty-five years from now, if I'm lucky enough to still be alive, what will I be mooning around missing that I have today? The world doesn't get much brighter than this, and I would do well to be mindful of it. Right now, right now. That's what counts, and right now is good.

Right now, we walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.


1 comment:

Mo said...

What a beautiful post. I clearly remember singing that song loud in the car with my friends, radio blasting, windows down, heat on kill.

Those certainly were the days. And we couldn't wait to grow up. Stupid kids.