MaybeToday.org turned two years old last Monday (March 1st). The occasion passed with little notice. Considering how much I had planned to write and post last month, and how much I actually produced (oops), I suppose I’m not surprised.
I spent the evening out with my wife, celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Having been married on Feb 29th, we usually get our choice of dates on which to celebrate the remembrance, but we very rarely wait until the 1st. I guess I launched the site the day after our anniversary in 2008 – I don’t recall being cognizant of the proximity of the dates, though I surely must have been (March 2nd is a birthday in our house, as well).
We had a nice dinner at Restaurant 45 in Medway, and as is customary on the occasion, it served as a quiet opportunity for recollection, reflection on the past, and a taking stock of how things are going. On the drive home up Rt. 16, while passing a road in Holliston which I used to travel daily to Framingham when we were living in Milford and I was working at General Chemical, it struck me how life experiences very often seem to have an import amplified in proportion to how early in life they occur.
In other words, it seemed like that left onto Brook Street, picking up Western Ave through Sherborn to the southeastern outskirts of Framingham, led to a road so many times traveled that I should be able to find my tire marks worn into the pavement – like an old friend with whom I share so many stories. Likewise, the whole experience of working at General Chemical looms rather largely in the scope of my composite memory of the path my life has taken to the present. But I worked there for only about three years, back in my early twenties. In contrast, I’ve sat a year longer than that in my current office, which is merely the most recent of five offices I’ve occupied in my current building, which is the fourth building I’ve worked out of for my present employer (in some permutation or another) over the past fourteen years. Yet, in terms of being a perceived life episode, I’d have a hard time not seeing the earlier experience as more life-defining.
The high school experience is another glaring example of what I’m referring to. The four years I spent in high school can almost be viewed as four distinct episodes in my life, each imparting a major impact on my life’s journey (or development, if you prefer) in numerous ways. Even the summers back then seem like they were so much longer, so much more decisive. I hesitate to say that time just doesn’t seem as interesting anymore – Lord knows I’d be somewhere between bored stiff and embarrassed to death if I had to relive a day of the inanity that was my adolescent life – but it might have something to do with the relative lack of crises in my life these days. The occasional heart attack notwithstanding, I lead a pretty crisis-free existence these days, and perhaps that equanimity just lends itself to a general dialing-down of the memory-experience meter. Perhaps our memory is a drama that, lacking dramatics, tends toward quietude and stillness.
Or maybe I’m just stumbling upon another angle to the age-old truism that life seems to accelerate as we age. But I’ve never heard of anyone trying to recapture their forties or fifties, no matter how old they get. One needn’t look far to find people aching to recover their lost adolescence, though. I don’t believe youth offers the vitality we tend to ascribe to it – at least not beyond the physical robustness that aging breaks down. In the life of the mind – in the living-ness of life, in our relationships, our imagining and thinking, and our willing, both loving and sinning – youthfulness is such a crude exactor of purpose, crying out for perfection to wisdom and prudence. And yet, time flies…