18 Jul 2009
In celebrating my recent birthday, I found myself caught up in a case of nostalgia. I never imagined I would really get this old. Not that I am old, mind you, but I have reached the point in life I never thought I would when I was younger. Had I known I would get this old, I would have saved some of the energy I wasted during my teenage years.
How was I to know that as you got older your supply of energy began diminishing?
When I was younger, I could not sit still for long and no matter where I went, I ran. It was impossible for me just to walk. Often my mother chided me by saying, "Slow down, young man." But I never could. I have finally come to the point where I am in harmony with my mother's desire. The only problem is, I’m not a young man anymore.
Today, I can sit in my easy chair for hours and not even move. I keep a little mirror on the stand next to my chair so my wife can periodically check to see if I'm still breathing. Often, the only indication of life is the occasional snoring.
One thing I have learned, in growing older is that my eyes are not quite what they used to be. For example, the mailbox used to be rather close to the front door of our house. Now, I can barely see it from the front door and it takes over an hour to reach it by walking. To be truthful, halfway to the mailbox I have to pause and catch my breath.
And, when I look at my checkbook, I can barely see to the end of the month. When I was young, I used to hear the saying, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Now, my eyes are so bad, I cannot see anything to buy for a penny.
Not only are my eyes going, but my hearing is not quite what it used to be when I was young. This is not as bad as it might seem. There is a good side to diminished hearing. When I'm in a crowd with a lot of people talking, I can sit back, smile, nod my head occasionally and not have to be bored with what everybody is saying.
Experience has taught me that people are not really interested in hearing what I have to say. Rather, they want me listening to what they have to say. Usually, people have a lot to say and all they require are two ears. It does not have to be ears that hear, just ears that appear.
Most things heard in such circumstances are not worth hearing. Perhaps that is the genius of our ears. In aging, they develop a little bit of wisdom and after a while, they just give up, not hearing anything really worth hearing. I cannot remember the last time I heard something under such circumstances worth hearing the first time, let alone remembering.
This brings me to my memory. The best thing about memory is, you can remember things the way you want to remember them. After all, it's your memory and it should be up to you to remember what you want. My memory has a way of bringing out the positive to the absolute exclusion of the negative. And who wants to dwell on the negative?
Whoever said you cannot live in the past is probably not old enough to have any past worth remembering. And the marvelous thing about remembering things in the past is that you can remember them as you like. It is your version of the past. Some people write journals, I like to trust my memory.
As my memory has aged, it has become better, just like a fine wine. In fact, my memory is so good; I can distinctly remember things that never happened. And the details I remember are simply astounding. Each time I recount a memory I remember new details.
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has quite a different take on all of this. She remembers everything that actually happened. She has a photographic memory whereas I have, according to her, a problematic memory. At her discretion she can marshal all of the facts of the incident in the order in which it happened. Usually her memory throws my memory in a different light.
No matter how I recount my memory, she always has some correction to it. More than once, she has claimed I stretched the truth. But I believe, if truth cannot handle some stretching what good is it in the first place? If it is so fragile and cannot handle a little bit of stretching, I am not sure it is worth remembering.
As my body gets weaker, my memory gets stronger.
In the Old Testament, David spoke often of the importance of memory. "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands" (Psalms 143:5 KJV).
For David, in his old age his memory brought him a great deal of comfort. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalms 37:25 KJV).
My goal is to live each day in such a way that years down the road I will have a good memory.
Rev. James L. Snyder