Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mixing the past with the present

      Here is what I have to balance almost daily: living in the past, and living in the present. I hope, I sense, you can identify with this.
      I've had more than a few people over the years tell me how good I am at living in the past; Bea likes to remind me often. It's true ... but only to an extent.
       Sure I love to watch television recaps or YouTube videos of sports events, musical stars, big bands, orchestras, comedians, Johnny Carson's Tonight Show clips, etc., and I can do this hours at a time.
       And I like to read the links to sports stories and historical events that friends send me -- and that happens several times a week. Other friends and I can talk for a few minutes, or many minutes, about where we've been and who we knew (and where are they now?).
       Plus, Facebook friends can post photos from the past or remembrances and, for me, that means virtual trips back to Shreveport, to the Sunset Acres neighborhood and to the days in school there, and then later at Louisiana Tech. That's only 45-55 years ago.
        Then there's stories/tales of the newspaper days and the long days in athletics, in sportswriting.
        The reality is that many of my blog pieces deal with past experiences, and I've received much positive feedback on those. Which tells me that a lot of people enjoy looking back, too.  
        So it's sort of a never-ending adventure. There's a lot of past; that's what happens when you're a senior citizen (and you have to admit you are). And it's fun -- well, most of it.
         I have to admit some of it leaves me feeling melancholy; I always come away from reunions that way. Fun to do, but also fleeting. It's always a kick seeing the Woodlawn people or, as in the past couple of years with reunions for Bea, the Ringgold and Jamestown people.
         I turned down three reunion invitations last year and a couple the year before that. No offense to anyone -- I appreciate the invitations -- but I have to be in the right mood.
        And again, I hope the people who grew up there understand, but every so often -- usually a couple of years apart -- I drive through the old neighborhood in Sunset Acres and past the old schools, and I feel a little sad. Well, sad and grateful for the good times we had there.
         It's certainly not the same; I mean, that's not surprising. Some neighborhoods do stay much the same; I'd say the area we live in now, around Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, has not changed a great deal.
         But Sunset Acres and southwest Shreveport -- and other areas in town -- well, I don't like going there anymore.
         On Facebook a year or two ago, one of the Woodlawn people posted that the school isn't like it used to be and he was wishing it could be the way it was in the 1960s and early 1970s. Hello, time has passed. We were there for the "glory days," I suppose, but the past is the distant past.
         Here's what bothers me: revisionary past. One of my classmates, who I don't talk to often (once every couple of years when he calls), was saying how he wishes we could play the Byrd (football) game of our senior year again; how badly he played in that game, and we could/should have won the game.
         A ridiculous notion ... although I diplomatically didn't say that.
         Beyond that, I have a classmate who I've heard tell me, and others, that he should have been a starting running back as a freshman in college, that the coach told him he was better than anyone we had. I think he actually believes this, because I've now heard the story twice.
         He can fool some people, but he can't fool me. I was there and my memory -- not infallible but pretty good -- is that he (1) was a redshirt who actually didn't play much until his third year in school; (2) the coach he's talking about would never have said that; and (3) we actually had three -- three -- all-conference backs on the team at that time, plus one other pretty darned good player.
         That's living in the past, and not even honestly. There's also a certain quarterback turned duck hunter/preacher whose football embellishments could be exposed (and I did a blog piece a year ago on what the record/statistics were back then).
         That's the kind of past remembrance I want nothing to do with, thank you -- a good reason to stay away from certain reunions.
         Hey, I've embellished a few events events myself and there are plenty of things in my past I wish I could change, too, problems I caused myself and others. Can't do it, of course, but what I try to remember -- what Bea reminds me of -- is that we should use the past as a guide for the present, to learn from what we've experienced, and to apply the lessons.
          We try to stay in the present here, finding things to do every day, new adventures and challenges. Here's our newest challenge -- figuring out the new phones and new phone systems which we acquired yesterday. We'll be a few weeks working on that.
           Proud as I am of many of my favorite teams' past achievements, I'm well aware that they don't help the present-day teams. So I look forward to tonight's game, and Sunday's game, and this fall's games.
           More than that, we're eager for the daughter and granddaughter's visit the next few days and the three grandchildren being together this weekend, and knowing that they'll be joined by a fourth grandchild in a couple of months.      
           Because that's the present and the future, and they will make moments and memories that beat anything from the past on YouTube or television.


  1. From Sherry Eaglebarger Patterson: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have to continually work to have a healthy balance of living in the past, present, and future. As I have aged, the balance has certainly changed dramatically.

  2. From Glen Gordon: Another great blog. As we remember the past, we should also remember the mistakes we have made and make sure we have corrected them to make our life and our loved ones richer in words and deeds.

  3. Fromj Jimmie Cox: As usual, you have put the past in a perspective of what it WAS. True we all wished we could redo part of our life, but that would have to mean we changed our future. I am VERY content with what I have done and life in general. I had a very loving wife for 36 years and three wonderful kids, er grownups. Coulda, woulda, shoulda are things we can't change. Keep up the memories and remembrances of our past.

  4. From Doug Bland: I guess thinking about how things could have been is good to a point, which you brought out, but life goes on and we have to adapt to it. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  5. From Jackson Thigpen: Really enjoyed your article on mixing the past with the present. I also enjoy this time in my life and look forward to every day. Spending time with the grandkids is really special, being able to travel and go places when we want to is wonderful. Going to sporting events (games I want to go to instead of the ones I have to go to) without being nervous and uptight about how my team will play is fun. All of this said, I also seem to regress and think of the past a lot. All the hours playing ball with close friends -- some have passed on and others I rarely see anymore -- the special times just hanging out and growing up, those were special times that can not be replaced. Maybe it is age and realizing that our time here is fast passing by, but I have an empty feeling in my stomach a lot when remembering the past and also an excitement for the future at the same time.
    What really makes me sad is when I hear someone say that they did not have a happy childhood and do not want to remember those days. I feel very sad for them as they will never be able to relive with fondness the special times of growing up.

  6. From Tom Gibson: None of us live in the world we were born in ... but fortunately some of us did get to live through the heyday of Woodlawn sports.