Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best Times of Your Life

I recently watched the movie "Pirate Radio". If you haven't seen it yet, it is a light-hearted piece of entertainment, especially if you are either 50+ and can remember when rock n' roll was just beginning to invade our air waves, or if you are a younger rock music fan and you are curious about its origin in terms of radio broadcasts.

There is a scene towards the end of the movie which occurs after the radio rock DJ's are told that legislation has been passed in Great Britain making Pirate Radio illegal. (Considering all the talk today about an increasing government interference in our lives, it is interesting to realize how much more freedom we have today, at least in terms of access to music and entertainment, especially in light of the world wide web).

Anyway, the scene depicts a conversation between two of the main characters in which one comments to the other that he had a horrible thought a few months past and instead of suppressing it, he allowed it to stick in his mind and become a conscious realization. When asked what that thought was, he responded that it was the understanding that this was the best time of his life. The second character, a much younger man, responds that he thinks he will have better times in his future. The first character emits a short laugh, and says, "maybe, but I doubt it".

The meaning that I grasped was that the character was lamenting, not that he was having this spectacular time but that he knew once it came to an end, he would never have as great a time again. His life had peaked. And his conclusion that the younger man would never have a matching experience was based on the wisdom gained from the decades of life that he had already lived. He knew, or thought he knew, what awaited the young man and concluded that it would never match this Rock Radio phase of his life.

So the question that begs to be asked is, when was your best of times? High school? College? Your 30's? 40's?

How many of us would say that their current life phase is the best of times? How many (over 40 years old) would say that the best times are still to come?

I suspect that most people over 40 years old would label their glory days as a time in the past. They might admit that life in the present is good, but not great, but many would certainly consider life in the future as either not something to be thought of or as a time to fear. Our obsession with youth and avoidance of getting old or being old clearly defines most people's opinion of aging.

In essence then, many of us are saying that our lives have peaked. Considering that our population is aging, that the first of the baby boomers will be applying for Medicare this year as they turn 65 years old, is it any wonder that the United States is struggling with its identity? Is it a surprise that we see such a strong yearning for the past, that so many people are looking back for answers to our shared problems rather than forward to the future for resolutions? If a large percentage of the populace thinks it has peaked, then does that not mean that the country has peaked as well?

In my last blog I resolved to try to find the unique in the everyday. Twice in the past three days I stopped to look at the sunset. The magnificent colors, the sheer expanse of the sky where it approached the horizon, and the way the entire scene changed as the sun slowly dropped beyond sight, made me smile. To think that the process happens everyday, twice, when you consider the sunrise, certainly qualifies as both unique and everyday.

But more importantly, I look forward to the continued best times of my life. Yes, I may not be as spry in appreciating those events. I might have to walk through the more physical events rather than running. I may nod off as an evening progresses, perhaps even missing a portion of the night. But I remain hopeful nonetheless that the best times are happening now and are still to come. Perhaps because I have only recently decided that I am a writer, obviously not by profession as I have never been paid to write, but by avocation, and certainly by self-identity. Maybe I am lucky that it has taken so long for this realization to occur, so now I have the rest of my life to see where my writing will take me.

Perhaps then, what defines the best of times is not just what is happening in the present but what keeps us looking forward to life's journey. We believe today is the best of times because we look forward to the same or better in the future.

So again I ask; when was your best of times?


  1. The 27 years I lived before January 20, 1960 were the best of times for me.
    I thank God that there are sunsets too. Mark Twain said that if the stars came out only once a year, the whole world would step outside to see them. I remember when the stars looked like that. But living on the East Coast of the United States I can report that the Milky Way is no longer visible from any of the three homes I have lived in over the last 40 years. Can't thank God for that. Have to thank my nation.

  2. Correction: I meant January 20, 1961. Another failing that comes with aging: increase in mental mistakes.

  3. Linc,

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and for commenting. I am saddended that your best of times are so far in the past. As a 52 year old, I can understand how that may transpire in my own life someday, but am extremely happy that it has not begun yet. Again, I guess I am lucky that I have been able to find my calling at this late time in life and feel I have so much to live for because of it.

    You certainly have an interesting mind and a curious spirit still. Please consider all the future pleasure, knowledge, interesting events and people you are yet to meet that those traits can/will present to you if you let them.

    (I hope that doesn't sound preachy).