Are we there yet?June 12, 2009
About a year ago, I was back in Memphis on business and had a few hours to spare. And, being only a few minutes from the first house I remember living in as a child, thought I’d swing by.
I pulled up in front and, for as long as I could do so without being reported to the police or putting the very life I was reflecting on in danger, just stared.
(Heck, thanks to the magic of Google Maps, I can literally show it to you. Yep … that’s it, just above … on Penwood Cove, in area of Memphis known as Whitehaven – a few miles from Graceland and a stone’s throw from Memphis International Airport. I was five.)
I remembered watching the big kids build ramps on the sidewalk out front, speed down the mountainside that was our street and jump them on their dirt bikes … the neighbor lady with the greenhouse in her living room … the boys next door, Randy and Butch … and the kids across the street who set their house on fire when a frog they’d poured gasoline on and set ablaze hopped into the storage room and got lost under a can or two of paint thinner (now THAT, my friends, is what you call going out in a “blaze of glory” … good for you, frog).
Most importantly, I just remembered it being so much bigger. The house, the yard, the block … and those boys? who seemed to be all but grown at the time? they were probably all of 12. And, I thought of how long ago that all seems to have been. Literally, it feels like a lifetime.
It’s incredible, between then and now, how much life I’ve lived. How much things have changed. How much I’ve changed. There have been countless moves. Elementary, Junior High and High School. Friends. Girls. Divorces. College. Jobs. Marriage. Children …
In fact, it’s been 31 years since I’ve lived in that house. And, when all of that life met up, face to face, with all of those memories, I realized that so many of the things I thought I remembered, had been, over the years, built up in such magnificent ways in my mind. I’d made them into so much more than they were. From the house, to those kids and, in all likelihood, that frog. The world just seemed so big then.
But, here I was … across the same street that years earlier I couldn’t cross by myself, with my car windows down, smelling smells, hearing sounds (it’s absolutely incredible how those things stay with you) and experiencing those days all over again … and I realized that some day, I’m going to revisit my current season of life. And (God willing), that 60, 70 or 80 year-old man will laugh at what this 36-year-old kid once called troubles. Those things that he’d made into giants … they’re 12-year-old boys on dirt bikes, in front of a tiny house, at the bottom of a hill that ain’t so big.
I think we’re all guilty of doing this, by the way. Creating these giants of things – particularly our problems – these mountains for ourselves to climb. And, I think we’d do ourselves good to realize now what we one day surely will … that things just aren’t as big a deal as we’re makin’ ’em out to be.
One day, in fact, we’ll long – in a powerful way – to return to these days. To our youth. To the days when we had our health. To the days our kids wanted to spend time with us. To the days when we had our whole lives – whatever they may have looked like at the time – in front of us.
To which I say … We’re there. Right now … we’re there.
So, wake up. Relax. Enjoy. Live.