It Was A Dark And Stormy Night
I FEEL LIKE I’M BEING SUCKER PUNCHED. It is early February , barely 1/3 of the way through winter, and the temperature is approaching 60 degrees. It’s like somebody is holding up a shiny object to get my attention while their other hand is curled into a fist and closing in on my blind side.
I’m not naming names or pointing in any specific direction, but, while this kind of weather in January is not unheard of, it has been a while since I’ve noticed it. Maybe it happens more frequently than I’m thinking and I’m just preoccupied with other stuff and don’t pick up on it.
For all the years I lived in California having 60 degrees in winter was pretty much the norm. In San Francisco it was pretty much the norm in spring, summer, and autumn as well, now that I think about it.
I wonder – that may be the key to it all – thinking about it. After twenty years or so I stop noticing things like that. Heck, after twenty years of the same stuff over and over, I lose track of my own phone number and what color the car is that is sitting in the driveway.
Life, in many ways, is really like a big shell game – a constant flurry of deceptive and confusing motions and feints all done with the purpose of seeing who is paying attention. Under which shell is the pea? I knew I should have kept my eyes on it closer. But, NO – I let myself be distracted by the shiny objects of life.
When I pointed to the shell in the middle I was sure that I had done it right. EMPTY. It was lack of focus like that that helped me claw my way to the bottom of the World’s Corporate Ladder.
Am I bitter about it? Nah.
All in all, I think I’ve had a most interesting life. I have been places, done things, and known more fascinating (and sometimes scary) people than you could shake a stick at. I have been in and out of love more times than I can count. I’ve survived more than my share of close calls and I’ve felt the warmth of the spotlight and the chill of rejection. And what has it all gotten me?
I have enough stories for a thousand evenings. There are mountains of true stories, skyscrapers of stories that are mostly true, and stories that are close enough to the clouds that they could be true. And to tell you the truth, after all these years I can’t always remember which stories belong where.
It’s not always important, is it? After all, they’re stories and often the truth is in the ear of the beholder.
I’m not saying that I can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. If that was the case I would either be strapped into my bed at night or running for national office. Neither is the case, thank the Lord.
Even now, as I am no longer “getting older” – I’m already there, there are new stories joining the lineup. For example – We are heading off to Ireland soon. We will be there for seven weeks and there is no way on earth that a trip like that cannot help but generate new stories, and maybe hone a few of the older ones to a keener edge.
Not long ago Dawn and I were watching an old episode of “Burn Notice,” and one character, played by Burt Reynolds, said a line that has stuck with me. I’ll try to quote it exactly, but don’t hold me to it. He said,
“After all is said and done all we really have left are our stories.”
I wish I’d written that.