Why the Good Old Days Seemed So Good

This weekend I will be missing my high school reunion.

There in the brisk, rarefied air of Colorado, my former classmates will come together on the site where we once ruled the world. All weekend—especially late into Saturday night—my friends will reminisce about those Camelot years, that special time we now call “the good old days.”

I wish I could be there for three reasons. First, I really like the people I went to high school with. Second, I would find it reinvigorating to relive those special days that were filled with so much fun. Finally, I feel a need to defend my reputation when Kenny, the quintessential storyteller, regales our alumni group with wild stories that are always embellished and often fabricated.

Yes, those were the good old days, and they were good for the following reasons:

My selective memory

I am certain those high school days were not as wonderful as they now appear when relived through filtered memories and creative storytelling. Having a selective memory helps me to forget the bad and focus on the good. I prefer it that way.

To make today one of tomorrow’s “good old days” I will deliberately focus on the positive and minimize thinking about whatever might be lurking in the dark, sinister shadows.

Our teenage innocence

It felt like a simpler time back then. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and that innocence made the world seem safer, warmer and even more colorful. Back then we were not saturated with 24/7 television “news” channels, nor did Twitter trends feed us with unending access to breaking news.

To make today one of tomorrow’s “good old days” I will regularly find quiet times when I can withdraw temporarily from the chaos and terror that threatens to destroy our world.

Taking things for granted

As teenagers, how could we know that too many people and things would soon disappear? Several of my classmates are now deceased, including a popular girl who died tragically in a California plane crash. Even in my own family, too much has changed. I remember my mom saying, “When you’re young you think you’ll have your parents forever, but there comes a day when they are gone.” Too quickly, that day has come, and I really wish I could hear mom’s voice one more time.

To make today one of tomorrow’s “good old days” I will be more aware of the abundance surrounding me, and I will savor the blessings that every person and every event bring into my life.

Seeing unlimited possibilities

High school was a time when our lives lay before us and endless opportunities stretched far beyond the horizon. A favorite quote of mine says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” As I grow older, I often ask myself if my curiosity has been replaced with knowledge, and if my optimism has been supplanted by realism. I hope not.

To make today one of tomorrow’s “good old days” I will approach each new project with a beginner’s mind, refusing to be encumbered with the rigidity that often comes with experience and maturity.

Sometimes I fantasize about stepping into a time machine and going back in time to visit my much-younger self. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I’d like to share with myself when I was a teenager:

  1. Don’t imagine worst-case scenarios. As Matthew 6:34 says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
  2. Don’t spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror. Always cherish memories of days gone by. Yet, never forget that life is best lived when you’re moving forward.
  3. Don’t wish for better days to come. Live fully in the present tense. Life moves fast enough without wasting time wishing for future events or circumstances that might make things better.

The Beatles once sang, “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

The Beatles may have believed in yesterday. I believe in today!

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5 Responses to Why the Good Old Days Seemed So Good

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Duane. I’m going to go call my parents right now.

  2. Jennifer Rebarchek says:

    This is one of my favorite posts so far. I was just thinking about high school this morning and missing some of the good times. Interesting perspective and good advice on making today a “good old day.”
    And P.S…. I think whatever stories are told this weekend at school are probably true. Too bad your daughter doesn’t know these people to fill them in on your shenanigans after high school. 🙂

  3. Gene Domke says:

    A great post, Duane. I attended my 55th high school reunion this spring, my first. I never felt like I belonged back then, but after renewing old friendships and some “creative” storytelling, all is good. In many ways, those were the good old days. Thanks for reminding us to take time, slow down and enjoy the past, present and future.

    I’m going to link this to my Facebook page.

    • Duane Hallock says:

      Gene, thanks for your kind note. And thanks also for sharing the blog post on Facebook. I didn’t know you in high school, but early in my career you were one of the people I respected and worked with. Those years we spent together there in Oregon were very much “the good old days.”

  4. Duane, you are wise beyond your years !!

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