Making Peace

I read an article once that discussed the idea of making peace with the lives we could have lived but didn't. Upon reading it, I thought it was an amazing idea. There's no point getting hung up on the past because we can't go back and change it but I couldn't seem to get the thought out of my head. I could never make peace with the lives I never lived. Like many things, it faded from my memory for a long time.

"Did you hear me uncle? What did you want to be when you were a kid," my nephew asked.

I know it didn't matter what I said, he was going to use this as an excuse to tell me he wants to be a red Power Ranger; I've heard it before. Still his question brought up memories of that article. What did I want to be when I was younger? I wanted to be so many things. I was going to be a musician, but I didn't have any musical talent. I wanted to play football professionally, but asthma used to win every game. I wanted to be an author, and I was even an English major for a while. Every time I spoke with an author, they told me it was pointless and they killed any dreams I had of being the next Stephen King. 

"I wanted to be a pirate."

"If you were a pirate that would mean I'd have to vanquish you because pirates are a force of evil, and I'm going to be the most amazing and incredible Power Ranger ever," I don't even know where he learned some of those words.

Kids grow up so fast, and they're like sponges. They soak up everything around them, even if you don't notice them doing it. Kids, that's another past life I can't seem to make peace with these days. I've had partners, lovers and significant others. There were two I loved more than the others. The first didn't love me as much as I loved her, it's fine, people grow apart. The second, loved me just as much as I loved her, but she loved herself more. We had talked about kids, getting married. She's still the only woman I've ever had unprotected sex with. She stopped taking her birth control, I was all in on ready to be a father. I didn't know she started taking Plan B. I had to find out by surprise when she left a coupon laying around. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I had a kid. They'd be four right now. 

I envy the youth of children. My entire life I worked hard, stayed out of trouble, was a star student I made a pretty good life of it. But, I can't help but wonder if this was the life I chose, or the life I was given. How many of my choices were really my own choices? I spent so much time worried about what people wanted me to do, and not what I wanted to do.

"Uncle, do you think I can be a Power Ranger and an astronaut?"

"Back in my day, the BEST Power Rangers were In Space and Lost Galaxy. All kinds of space stuff."

"You're so old."

In his mind, I'm an old man. I'm not even thirty-five yet. The idea of a midlife crisis for a person in their late 40s or early 50s is something people would always joke about. It seems like my generation is going through a crisis every few years, but we can't be blamed for it. For us the defining memory is watching 9/11 in classrooms live on TV. We've been in a war that probably won't end in our lifetimes, we survived a global pandemic, we're pushed out of the housing market and companies want us to have master's degrees for entry level work at $7.25. We don't know who we are, because we never got the chance to figure it out. 

For that reason alone, I can't seem to make peace with the lives I didn't live. I feel like there's still time left to do all the things I wanted. Almost, I can't start a professional football career at this point. But, I can do other things. Still, times seems to just keep slipping away from me at every passing moment.

"Can we get ice cream?"

"Yeah, we've got time for that."