A Wiser Man, But Older Now.....
Those days were good.
Hard to describe how it was back then.
It's really something that the words,
"You had to have been there"
truly do apply to.
I'm not avoiding trying to share my thoughts,
my emotions, my memories....
but it's true - if you weren't there,
then you could never really understand,
or appreciate the times,
or enjoy the memories of those too brief moments
of back then.... those overwhelming moments.
For a kid like I was, like so many of us were,
it was a strange time to grow up,
a strange time to try to learn about life,
about the world,
and to try to grasp all of that -
all of what was happening all around us.
There was just so much, every day,
and though we lived in it, lived with it,
lived through it,
we never quite understood it all,
until a lot later.
A long time later.
Even today, every once in a while,
I'll think about something from back then,
and I'll remember a moment,
and... Whoa...! It will hit me.
Like an epiphany,
an experience of sudden and striking realization,
a moment from then that I overlooked or had cast aside,
will return with such clarity and strength,
that I am startled with the impact.
And that is good, because I still learn,
and I still smile with the learning.
We were so naive, so trusting, so faithful, so altruistic,
and, sometimes, so sad and pathetic.
We WERE, however.... yes, we certainly were.
So many things, so many thoughts, so many ideas,
so many worries and fears and hopes and plans and dreams...
and we got up every morning and went out to face them,
over and over, every damn day.
We didn't know any better, and that, too, was good.
We thought that we would make it, that we would win,
whatever it was we thought we were, in our individual ways,
fighting for... we thought we would one day win.
We thought we knew what was important....
Save The World! Save The Planet!
And we came up with words like Love and Hope
Save The Whales! Collect the whole set....
We still have landfills full of crap
that we should never have invented,
and today we all "do our part"
by separating our garbage,
and washing some of it
before we throw it out to be taken to the landfills.
And what happened to Love?
Songs, movies, poems, great deeds, great books,
great attitudes and thoughts and dreams and hopes...
temporary asides to the real problems,
all gone to naught.
No one loves anyone very well today.
This world never evolved to that level,
and it never will.
The same may be said of Peace... that beautiful word,...
Such a wonderful word, such a wonderful thought,
such a sad and empty dream...
that will never happen in this world.
When the world, when mankind, has finally lost all,
then the green will grow unopposed, unchecked,
and it will take over the world, steadily, quietly,
and then there will be peace
We pass by the unwashed and homeless
who live on the sidewalks in towns and cities everywhere,
and give nary a thought to their plight,
and never understanding
that there, but for the Grace of God, we could be.
Sometimes we drop some coins or a bill down into their can or cup,
and they look up for a moment,
and if our eyes meet,
we hear their pained thanks,
and their unspoken apology for being there,
and their crying, from inside, for their circumstances,
and we move along,
forgetting them by the next corner.
"There was just so much, every day,"...
Newspaper headlines scared the hell out of us,
Dictators did a pretty good number on us, too.
Kruschev screamed at us, "We will bury you!"'
and with the cold war and nuclear threat
hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles,
we learned that our lives were affected
by that which effectively conveyed the sense of constant fear
in which a people with great power may live,
but we didn't really understand it all - we just worried,
and we tried to keep that worry from showing.
We were too young, then, to think about such things,
much less understand them.
We all performed the "duck and cover" actions in schools,
so that, should a nuclear warhead actually land close by,
our eyes would be below window level and we would not see
the shock waves as they came toward us...
and we thought, because we were taught thus,
that we would be safe.
In growing up, graduating from schools and colleges,
we continued the journey into jobs and marriage
and little houses with 2.5 children and a station wagon
and Cub Scouts and Brownies and Little League
and Dance Classes, and Band Practice...
and we thought we had become safe.
We were still fooling ourselves.
We continue doing this, even today,
because we don't know what else to do.
And we have no idea what safe is,
or how to find it.
We tell our minds that we are safe,
and we lay awake nights, staring up at the ceiling,
wondering why we don't really feel all that safe.
And in the morning with the ringing of the alarm,
we shower and shave and eat our toast
and drink our coffee and back out of the driveway
to go to jobs that we don't like,
so that we may take care of the families
that we have wrapped around ourselves,
and we pray, without realizing it,
for happiness and peace and safety
and love and all the good things we once dreamed of,
'way back then,
when we were still too young to know or understand
just what the hell we were thinking about, anyway.
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Copyright©2017-1999 by Rebecca R. Hammack
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