Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Pull of Nostalgia

At least once a week I get an e-mail asking me if I remember the “good old days” when gas was 25 cents a gallon and The Platters were at the top of the music charts. I enjoyed these nostalgia fests when I first started receiving them, but after a while they all start looking the same. Why this obsession with looking back? Do we really miss the things these e-mails talk about or is it our youth we miss ? It’s probably the latter. Folks my age re-live their younger days by circulating these little time capsules that take them back to a time when their mornings didn’t start by opening a little pill box with S-M-T-W-T-F-S printed on top to remind them what day it was.

The older we get and the less we can do, the more we long for the days when we could run full speed for blocks, jump those fences in a single bound, and eat like we were going to the electric chair in the morning without gaining a single pound. Life was in front of us instead of in the rear view mirror. There was high school, maybe college, then a job, marriage, kids, and waaaay off in the future, something called old age. The face in the mirror was free of wrinkles and liver spots and covered with a mop of hair. There was a spring in the step and more than enough energy for whatever needed doing. Sometimes I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up after being asleep all those years and finding a world far different from the one I knew.

How did that boy frolicking in the gushing cold spray of the “Johnny pump” become the old geezer who takes 30 minutes just to straighten up in the morning? When did the kid who could hit a pink Spaldeen two sewers and race around the bases in the street turn into the sedentary wreck who drifts from computer to TV room to refrigerator in an endless cycle for 12 hours a day? Where is the carefree lad who could sleep like the dead for 12 hours regardless of what was going on around him? Did he metamorphose into a tossing, turning wretch who dozes fitfully for two hours at a time, always debating about whether to get up to go to the bathroom again?

Age is a funny thing. When we’re young we can’t wait to get older. We get so tired of hearing the words: “No, you’re not old enough.” When can I cross the street alone? When can I light up a cigarette in public? When can I get my license? When will I be old enough?? Well guess what bunky…that’s no longer a problem. Now it’s: What was his name again? What doctor am I seeing today? Can somebody read this menu to me? We get so caught up in life that we don’t always realize how quickly it’s passing by. Suddenly our children are over 40. We can’t eat dinner after 6pm. A day on the golf course is followed by a morning in a hot tub. Now we hear a variation on the words that so frustrated us as kids: “No, you’re too old.” 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to still be here and grateful that modern medicine has progressed so far. Conditions that would have spelled ‘toe tag’ 30 years ago are now treatable, allowing life to be mercifully prolonged. We won’t be twisting the night away like in our Chubby Checker days, but we do get to answer the bell every day and do as much as our creaky frames and feeble brains will allow. I can remember (barely) when my body would do anything I asked of it. At this stage of my life, if the good Lord granted me three wishes they would be: 1) good health for my family; 2) the next six Powerball numbers; and finally, 3) a week back in my 18-year old body. I want to remember what strength and stamina were like. I want to remember life without medications and a good night's sleep. Hell, I’d settle for remembering where I left my car keys!


Children's Craniofacial Association


joe del broccolo said...

well Jim, I'm glad that I am not alone in my sleep habits and self-debates!

Jim Pantaleno said...

With you all the way Joe.