Someone recently asked me, “If you could go back and re-live any period of your life, what would it be?” That started me thinking. I believe I have had a good life. I enjoyed my childhood. My brothers and I played all the normal childhood games. We also went hunting and fishing at what would now be considered a very young age. My school days were mostly normal. I didn’t take school too seriously but I was able to get through with decent grades because I paid attention in class. I played sports, which helped.
I remember my teen years. I recall my clumsy and somewhat comical attempts at dating. At the time I thought I was the only one who was that clumsy. It turns out the young ladies were equally uncomfortable with the whole dating thing. But, as always seems to be the case, I managed, as did my friends.
Then there were my years in the military. Again there were wins and there were losses. As do most people, I have some regrets. While I was serving in the Army I was appointed to go to West Point Military Academy. Thinking back, that was quite an honor but I turned it down. Maybe that was a good choice and maybe it was a bad one. Who knows? I could have ended up in Vietnam with a target on my back. Also, had I gone to West Point I probably wouldn’t have met the love of my life. That happened soon after I got out of the Army. We have been married more than 50 years now.
After meeting and marrying my wife, we set about making a life together, which included two children and working for a living. Those were all good years.
Now my children are grown and have families of their own and our nest is empty. That is a lot better than it sounds.
And so I am left to examine what are the best years of my life. I had a great childhood. I enjoyed my teen years even though they were clumsy. I even liked my time in the military. I didn’t think so at the time, but the years have allowed me to re-examine that time. I got more than I gave.
My years with my wife have been a picture of ideal. Norman Rockwell, the artist who painted scenes of idyllic Americana, would have been proud. My working life, while in the past, was a time of learning and doing. There were good times and bad. There were successes and there were failures. I suppose that’s the way it is with most people.
This then is what I have concluded. Everything I have ever done, every decision I have ever made, every choice I have chosen, has brought me to this point in my life. When I turned to the right instead of the left, I got here. When I went up instead of down, I got here. When I said yes instead of no, that brought me here. And this point in my life is the best time of my life. I am living in the best years of my life. I have definitely had some regrets. I have definitely had some victories. But, whatever the choice I made, I am here and loving my life. Had I chosen differently, my outcome wouldn’t have necessarily been different.
I was discussing this column with my little granddaughter and she offered this brilliant comment. “Grandpa, how can you know when you have lived your best years. They may not have happened yet.”
Ah, yes, out of the mouths of babes . . .