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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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!