• Posted: Aug 01, 2013 22:38:12
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Perusing pictures like this one recently, I couldn't help thinking about my son. He's what? 32 now? When I was 32, I'd been married four years and he was a year old, just taking his first steps, something I got to witness first hand, with a camera in my hand at that. What a proud self-effacing smile he had on his face. I'll never forget it. That tentative, reaching for the stars, filled with doubt and uncertainty demeanor. But then suddenly, everything seemed to work, just as it should. And success was at hand. Was hard for me as father to hold back tears of relief and joy and modest self-satisfaction. But now take a look at these guys pictured above. They too are taking their first steps, out onto the world's stage. They too are tentative, filled with apprehension and doubt, yet feeling unfettered youthful power and energy flowing through their strong young bodies, power and energy they are not yet sure of how to control or make use of. But in presence of each other, their friends, their buddies, they are beginning to sense that things are as they should be. They are right, good, very good in fact. And, that the future, all of our futures, is about to be theirs. Fathers, mothers, friends, ordinary onlookers. We can't help but smile as we observe them. We feel their momentous potential and have every expectation of sharing in their success, just as I shared in my son's at his first steps.
That was five years ago. Where are those young men now? What successes have they, in reality, achieved? Are boundless horizons still open to them? Are they still bursting with potential? Or, have some begun to falter, fall by the wayside in mediocrity and obscurity? Perhaps one or two may even have expired, in war, by happenstance, or as victim to their own or another's unthinking stupidity. Or, maybe, they have merely found an ordinary place for themselves, at a job, in a community, with or without a spouse, enduring ordinary stresses, ordinary ups and downs, ordinary hopes and disappointments, with perhaps the occasional consolation of a reunion beer with buddies from that picture.
Does that thought bring a tear to our eyes? Does the crush of ordinary erase the memory of hope we once saw in their moment of optimism? No, no it doesn't. But the tinge of sadness is unavoidable. We all have such high hopes for ourselves. And yet, circumstance is nearly always stronger than we'd ever imagined. It doesn't kill our dreams, but it dampens them, brings them into perspective. Perhaps they take on the countenance of a distant vision, someplace we'd love to go but may in fact never see. Yet still, what is before us is not nothing. It is our lives. It is who we have become, for better or for worse. That is what most of us must come to terms with. Those young men will do it. My son will do it. I have done it.
May peace and not too infrequent joy forever be a part of our most humble and ordinary of lives. And may we at least occasionally feel we've somehow managed to do a few things right.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
61.6 mm 292 mm