"Living in the Present, but Still Learning From the Old"
"I watched this movie honey. It was about a person who wished he was seventeen again. It followed the It's a Wonderful Life plot. In both stories the persons are shown that even though they have made mistakes, they have lived a life worth living that positively impacted more people than the person had realized."
There was a long and slightly uncomfortable pause. I realized he was trying to tell me if I regretted my life choices, he could see that I still have had a valuable impact on the world.
He continued. "I asked myself if I would want to be seventeen again. I really enjoyed being seventeen, but there is no way I would want to go back to that point in time. I would still choose to be who I am right now with the decisions I have made. What about you honey?"
"There is a poem by one of my favorite poets, Atticus. It essentially says that if most people who chased their pasts found it again; they wouldn't know what to do with it anyway." Then I looked at him and smiled, I opened up my book of Atticus's poetry and read, "Stay away from trouble, momma said. But, then some of us need the storm to feel safe." I gave him a pointed look and shrugged.
My Dad started laughing because he understood what I was saying to him. I like to learn from the storm. "It wouldn't matter if I went back to being seventeen. I would still be the same prideful, me that likes to learn the hard way. I imagine I would either make the exact same mistakes or a completely different set of them. I needed to make all of those mistakes so I could become the me I am today. I realized I made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean I regret the life I have lived. In fact, had I not married a controlling man who I submitted to enough to mostly lose myself... I wonder if I would have ever completely found myself the way I have now. I'm getting to live as fully me; that experience is what broke the chains. I'm a fuller and better me because of the lessons I have learned."
My Dad seemed to think that was the right answer and nodded satisfied. "How are you doing with everything?"
"I have decided I have moved from a dysfunctional crazy, when I left, to a functional crazy." I privately thought to myself I was probably going to remain in some form of functional crazy the rest of my life.
My Dad laughed. "Sometimes, that is the best we can hope for...You know, I don't have it all figured out yet. It is good to realize you have things to learn. There is a Mark Twain quote I have always liked that says a boy starts pretending to be a man at fourteen and continues to pretend for the rest of his life."
I wondered then about how I had tried to find myself a proper adulting, adult and ended up casting off whoever I found as an example as just being another person in my late teens and early twenties before looking for another example. I eventually decided we are all just people, and the ones who are more open about not knowing everything tend to be the wiser people. I personally believe that you can learn something of value from most everyone you encounter, although the amount of value a person has to offer can get so low as to seem as if his or her existence is almost just taking up space among the cluttered status quo. There is one thing that certainly can be said of my life-- it is not boring. It is a private goal of mine that when my light goes out in this life, it will feel like it went supernova because of the amount impact it had, before going silent. There is something about my functional crazy that seemed more inclined to make that kind of goal a reality. If you want to really live, you need to live in the present without the chains of the past, or fear of the future.
I looked over at my Dad, "Mark Twain was such a smart man. I find it encouraging that the world is still producing minds that have wisdom to offer in younger versions-- like Atticus. I believe we benefit from listening to both the wisdom of the old and the new. "
"That is how our Declaration of Independence was created. The smart minds of a wiser older man and a brilliant younger man. I'm specifically referring to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson."
I looked over at my Dad and gave him a knowing, half smile. My Dad sends messages with his examples. He was telling me that working together with mutual respect, we can create something better, than we could create alone.
#writing #shortstory #life