It is a nice number.
At least regarding how us humans like to stack numbers. Those tasty patterns. And what a nice one ‘ten’ is, right? Lines up wonderfully within the hundreds, thousands, and so on.
A decade, over and done with. And whatever it meant for you, to me, it made up most of my twenties. (Another nice number). Which, in the current cultural consensus of at least the last few generations, is the time where the adult in you is sculpted. Generally. And sometimes, for some folks- that chunk of time becomes the exclusive mold the rest of your timeline.
Maybe I’m one of those folks, maybe not. Maybe you are. We won’t know until we know, I suppose.
But for this here humble narrator, these last half score years be the ones I grew to the man that looked back at me today in the mirror. My first stretch paving a way in the world. The dream that began is not what came to be. But I doubt it has even once been that way for anyone. But actions and intentions in the immediate and fermented over time have brought the path all sorts of ways. The kind that you could never do again. Even if you tried.
So, how’d I do?
No need for you to answer that.
Though, some folks already have, in various ways over the years.
I’ve made and received apologies in this adult life. As I have wronged and been wronged. As much as most humans can’t help but do. Another universal occurrence, me thinks. I’ve confessed and listened and been beyond stubborn and shut down. I’ve ignored the good and embraced the worst. Seen things that cannot be unseen. Said that which, to some, might ring forever. Good and bad. And I’ve heard that which resonates eternal in my background. And any feeling I cannot muster now, I can still recall, if I need to.
For all the change though, I still felt a consistency. The basis of which could be organized and explained in socio-economic, cultural, regional, national, theological, professionally, and so on, if given to the proper professional point of view. But what an awful way to look at life. Particularly in the lens of self-reflection. Which, tragically, this might end up becoming.
But of the few things that I do know, know this- life, your own and in general, and the world, as far as we perceive it and maybe beyond, is always far better described than classified.
With colors and sounds and scents. With moods and tones. Life is better told as a campfire story than a spreadsheet. Or so says I.
So, what of my own? Well, there were a lot of sunsets. A good few sunrises as well. There was a time, early on in the decade, where I thought sleep deprivation was cool. Like those beatnik writers, I half dreamt I’d end up being. Better off. Most of those cats did not end well. And I still need to press on.
There are sound waves that echo through time. The music composed by others, and the tunes I’ve made myself. The soundtrack self-crafted, along with the non-musical overtures. Train tracks and car horns. The slightly distant sound of engines ripping down late night streets. Crickets from the back porch where I grew up. Right up to the creek that ripples and roars behind my current home. Even a hint of any of these, and so quickly I can be transported somewhere else, some other time ago. Even if for only a glimpse.
The settings have changed. Not many, but a few locations. Suburban, to urban, to rural- to place it in to categories. Glad to be where I ended up, and I think it was necessary to go through where I’d been to get here.
But I cannot see for sure where I am to be going. I have ideas, but then again, I had ideas a decade ago which have most certainly failed to be.
But looking back on what was, I can say this- with the best effort each moment could muster, I’ve tried to be a good man. And with the numerous faults and failures there had been, a good man is what I believe I have become.
No, I don’t think so. And I don’t think anyone should want to be. Greatness, historically, is not something that is granted from within. It is perceived from the outside, based on the story you tell to others with the way you live your life.
And despite the achievements and such I have attained, which I won’t sell myself up or short on- I know there is more I need to do. If for no other reason than the urge still drives me to do so. The grown version of the same itch a young man walked into these last ten years with. Wisdom, in its limited accumulation, has made the ambition more cautious. Less wasted effort, if for no other reason than there isn’t as much energy to expend.
There are objectives I carry with me into this future. If there weren’t, I wouldn’t be doing this. I don’t think I would be doing much of what I still find myself doing.
So, in ten years, where did I get?
Not where I thought I’d be going. But somewhere better, I think. I don’t know if that younger self would agree, but I think he would. I didn’t quit, even if things had to change, drastically at times. And I know he had respect for that.
We’ll see how the next ten go. I don’t make such bold predictions for the future. Not anymore. As an effort molded over the years.
I figure it’s better to just be and see what comes of it.