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Fighting with Father Time

January 07, 2002

Fighting with Father Time



Remember when you turned 21?

When you were 18, it seemed like it took an eternity to get to that magical age of supposed freedom, lower insurance rates and guaranteed entry into your local tavern.

Some days, you think you're still in your early 20s. When you wake up, you feel well-rested, your head is clear and your knees and back don't ache.

You think you can whiz through the day like a champion thoroughbred, galloping along with the young 3-year-olds.

Silly fool, you should be out grazing in the field with the rest of the studs.

Can you relate to my woe?

We are not 21 anymore and the years seems to whiz past us relentlessly, but that doesn't mean we have to act like we're ready to meet our maker.

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As many of my generation (is it X, Y or MTV?) approach middle age, we tend to think about what we've done so far and what we want to do with the second half of our existence.

Many of us probably aren't satisfied. We need more money and more kids. We want a bigger house and the latest SUV. We would like a better job and would be a big fan of seeing peace on earth and goodwill to men.

As a thirtysomething male grappling to live the "American Dream" of a home, 2.5 kids, a promising career, church and being a responsible person while still having a good time, I certainly want more.

But it's the what-I've-done-so-far thing that got me thinking. The year 2001 was a big year for me: first child, two moves, three jobs and a return home.

My baby turned 1 this weekend and I couldn't help but think about where the year went and where the previous 10 or so had gone. Were they hiding under a rug somewhere? Did I pack them in the U-Haul when we left Wisconsin?

These are feelings many of us thirtysomethings and fortysomethings thought we would never have.

I also pondered what - if anything - have I accomplished so far?

Have I made a difference? Have I made the world a better place? What would people say at my funeral?

We can ask ourselves those questions no matter what age we are.

My answers are probably similar to many of you. I looked at my family, my friends, my job, my happiness and my health. I thought about my failures, successes and if I learned anything from them. Plus, I thought about how I think others see me.

I think I've done a good job so far, but I can do better - a lot better in all regards. We all can.

I can give more time to my family, more respect to those around me and even give more to those less fortunate. I can help my elderly neighbor shovel snow this morning. I can volunteer at one of the hundreds of organizations that could use me. I can get more active in church. I can worry more about the really important things in life rather than the trivial and the trite.

I may not bat a thousand, but I will try.

Maybe all of us should try to do something to make the second half of our lives more meaningful. Imagine what a world it would be. Imagine the legacy we would leave.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Morning Herald. You can reach him by e-mail at billk@herald-mail.com.

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