As I lie here on the sofa, one experiences this crisp — but not terribly cold — day. Again, I gaze into a cold gray sky as I have many days in the past during the months of the winter season. At this point I think to myself, I, too, am in the beginning of winter.
I, but not by myself, have stepped into the winter season of our life and our being. I begin peering deeper into the cold gray sky; the depth is endless. What could possibly lie beyond it? On any other bright and sun-soaked day there would be no reason to question. But today I do, for no other reason but to ponder the thought on this boring day. But still a day of life. A day to be cherished because it is a day under the sky, and not the soil. My eyes are drawn to the trees. Their skeletal remains of what, just a few months in the past of the year, was a growth of beauty and bounty. Now, no more than large dried sticks in appearance. The seasons of nature come to mind. I think and do remember at this moment, I have in my life seen 250 of these seasons of nature and my life.
Life so strange in nature that it could not possibly be true, moreso fiction rather than truth or anything else. Life truly stranger than any fiction that has ever been written. That’s not just my life, that is all of our lives. We come screaming into this world and we continue to scream at the top of our lungs for years. Some of us never stop screaming, for the child stays within. Some of us scream in the open as others of us are screaming inside, dealing with life as it is thrown to us. Some of us are hit with life as in the same manner as being hit by waves of the ocean. We get knocked down but we get back up. We have no choice. These hard knocks come to some of us very early on. Some of us grew up to quickly for our own good. Living in an adult world with the mind of a child. In some cases to be used and abused. Child soldiers — just to mention some — but so many, many more. “Grow up, grow up, grow up” was pushed down many of our young throats by those who had the same thing done to them. A sad part of the reality of life. A sad part in the life of a child. For there are so many of us who have paid too high of a price. We paid with our childhood. A precious time in life that can never come again. A time so very unique to the human being. In the first three years of life, we learn at a very incredible rate, again never to be seen at any other time in our life.
These seasons of life, as I see them, are very distinctive, as are the true seasons of nature.
We begin with the spring of our lives. For me, this is the years between your birth and 20 years old. Of course, at first, we are helpless. That’s what some would tell you and it’s a lie. The human child is a controller of what the mother does from the first day of birth — and in some cases, if you let them — until your or their death. Endless screaming, as I stated. Screaming that lets you know and is telling you without words. This will continue until I am fed with either a teat or bottle nipple. Just a fact of your child’s life as we all know.
Life continues, with life’s early learning lessons. Hurt and pain of the body and heart. I do not know one child, be that male or female, who has not knocked the bark off their knee cap. Scarred knees are just part of growing up and falling off of bicycles — if you ever were a child. So much more could be written as the in-between parts of life, but we jump to the hurt of the heart. The first love, and maybe truly the only love, of your life. A sickness so deep inside, that the thought of death would be so much more easy to deal with. During these years, we learn the facts of life, love and death. But we go forward. These are the years of true wonderment. To be young and be so lost in life that we feel that life is endless. These are truly the days of our memory and life to be cherished. For it is not endless. During these days you have no idea of what you and your life is about. But you are learning.
The summer, oh my God, the summer. Another season that appears to be endless. It is not. These are days that come and go and do it all over again. The endless days at the river, living in the water. The beach, spring break, the friends. Oh, love of my life, the women. Truly, I love all women to death. The reason: you are all so very different, but also the same — you are all crazy one way or the other. This is the very reason I love you so much. But I am not so shallow as not to realize that men are the same — crazy as Hell. Some of us moreso than the others. I am proud to say that boot would fit my foot. But these times are the starting points of our own families. Some to last and some to not. Dispersed, yet still families. A time to work and play. More memories to be stored in life’s picture book. This season lasts from 20 to 40 years old. That’s not long enough, but it’s all you get.
The fall, and that is what it is — the falling-down stage, from 40 to 60 years old. Still wonderful years to be had, but a time when you look back and ask yourself: “Where did it all go?” Easy to answer. You were to busy living life. You were working, having children, feeding a family. Repairing the roof. Dealing with divorce. Remember the heart break? Asking yourself: “Where did I go wrong? How could I have changed things?” The prime of your life, not to be wasted on the what ifs of life. Becoming stronger learning about yourself. Seeing your faults and not wanting to make the same mistakes over again. Being human and understanding that you are not the only one that lives with the pain of those years in your heart. A time to just go forward and to Hell with the pity parties — unless there is beer and women. OK, call me a pig. Do I care? Not at this point. I’m too damn old to let that part worry me. An Indian Summer. The kids are gone, time to play as long as you can. Any extras out there, come by the shop and see me. A good time in life; add more great memories to the mind’s book.
Wow, kicked in the guts with the winter season. Never thought of living to this point and I’ve got the scars to prove it. These are the days of looking back. Seeing so much change and not understanding most of it. Seeking the simple times. Knowing they’re long gone. Memories of youth wasted with thoughts of neverending days of life. Living with long days and short years. Truly, not enough years after finding one’s self. The winter is part of the cycle of life. A time to look back and say, “I did the best I could.” A life full of memories, good and bad. So this is the true reality of our life.
Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.