A life worth living

Jeffrey - St. Paul, Minnesota
Entered on July 10, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change, family
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So this is my new life, a life worth living it is said. I look out and see all the things that are old, which now look new. Sitting on a lovely, but cold and plain stoop, made of concrete, I look up and down the street. Everything has started over, again. Again, another generation has taken to the houses, streets, and playgrounds that I thought were mine. Places that I have memories of and things that are special to me. But alas, I must realize that they are not just special to me, but all. Certainly others have noticed the maple tree that towers 100 feet tall and expands enough to shade three houses. They must have noticed the way it looks while laying in the grass under it, with its trunk too wide to stretch one’s arms around. It must have been noticed how the tree blossoms in the spring out of nowhere, making me wonder what happened to spring, and the way it looses all its leaves in the fall in a shower of beauty that I hope will last for eternity, as if being filmed in slow motion, but realize will last only for a day or two and then like the passing of one’s life, it is over before it is fully realized.

Surely, this tree could not be so special to anyone else. But it is not just the tree. It is the park where I went sledding for the first time, where I had to work my way up in gradual steps until before I knew it I was at the top of the hill looking out over the vastness and thinking the world is so big; or the sidewalk and the special square of concrete, if concrete can be special, where I first noticed that sunlight through a magnifying glass starts things on fire, like leafs and paper. Or the spot by the sewer where my friends and I played sail boat races when the water from the hose that was used to clean my father’s car ran down the street slowly, but fast enough to carry loose twigs and leafs and small home-made boats to the sewer. These are thoughts and memories that I have and that I don’t want to imagine others have. It’s what makes my memories special and different from others. But perhaps this is not the case. Perhaps it is me, alone, to whom the tree is special, who basks in the memory of racing boats, and relishes the thoughts of magnifying glasses on the concrete.

Sitting on my nondescript stoop, watching the children play, the adults talk, and the cars drive by, I think about these things and wonder what happened to that time, where did it go. Now as I look out I see my own child; perhaps the way my mother saw me – with love and passion and care. I see my daughter with her shinny red hair, her big blue eyes, and continuous smile of a child who has not a care in the world. I watch my daughter play with wild abandon. I watch her explore the space that is hers – the play area in the back with a special fort, the swings where she wants to be pushed up to heaven, and the slide where she whizzes down never quite fast enough. And I watch as she learns all the lessons I did, but in new ways, with new meanings. I wonder what she will remember, what she will learn, and what she will want to forget. Will she have a childhood to which she will want to return one day or will it be a childhood that is best forgotten? If she remembers, what will the memory be? Will it be the tree, or perhaps it will be playing with her friends in the fort that is now her kitchen. Of perhaps she will remember those trips to the ice cream store on hot and sunny afternoons. What ever she remembers, I know I will remember it this way. I will remember it as a time that my life, my whole life, changed. A time that I became the person I always wanted to be, someone I could be proud of. Somebody who was living a life worth living. This I believe is what life it about.