January 8, 2007

It was New Year’s Eve, and our flight from Washington’s Dulles airport to Phoenix had been delayed by equipment failure, causing us to be put on another plane. While considering the possible alternatives to what could have happened, it was a minor inconvenience, really – after all, we were enroute to Phoenix, and our arrival time was only going to be about an hour late – plenty of time to ring in the New Year. OK for most, inconvenient, perhaps, to a few. As our plane jetted west through the darkness, and the plane filled with sounds of people settling down or trying to find things to pass the time on our 4+-hour flight, I found myself thinking about my trip back home to Massachusetts just concluded.

What seemed to press upon my mind the most, I think, was the sheer passage of time, and how, whenever I visit my New England home, I find things the same, yet changed in ways sometimes more than subtle. In this case, I thought about all the changes over the past year: the loss of my good friend Ben’s wife, the rejection of my friend Dona’s application to the deaconate in the Episcopal Church, my friend Rock finally moving back into his house more than a year after the post-Katrina floods, the distance that has grown between both me and my Goodboys friends and my friend Jim since the birth of his son over a year ago, and just the normal distance (both physical and psychological) that occurs when you live nearly 3,000 miles away from friends and family.

Oddly, I found it not a cause for sadness, melancholy, or anxiety, but instead just a shake-your-head wonder at simply recognizing yourself at a point and place in life that, even several years ago, you could never have imagined. It was then I found myself contemplating and humming to myself that lovely Beatles’ tune “In My Life” (from their fantastic “Rubber Soul” album), and the poignant lyrics penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney more than four decades (if you can believe it!) ago:

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends
I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
there is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

Interestingly, I don’t ever recall either Lennon or McCartney saying who the “you” in this song was – was it a lover? A confidant? Or, not a person, perhaps, but a place in time that affords one the ability to contemplate the passage of time? For me, I’ve always found it easy for the “you” in these lyrics to be God, in thankfulness for being able to – for better or for worse – recognize and appreciate the natural changes that occur in one’s life over time. For it is only through God’s grace that one can learn to love and accept in some way every person or event that has brought you to a particular place in time, no matter how joyful or distressing, pleasurable or painful, it might have been along the way.

A long time ago, I remember saying to my wife that, if I never left New England to live anywhere else, I would consider my life to be a failure. Well, after a 4-year tour of duty (so to speak) in Louisville, KY and these past 3+ years here in Gilbert, AZ, I can say – at the very least – that I’ve done more than my share of sampling new places and new things. I just wish I knew what it all meant, and what the purpose was in the long run.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. I either read in one of Fr. Andrew Greeley’s books, or heard him say in a TV interview, that all love songs are about God. He has also written a book about theology in movies.

    When we are young we think we have a lot of time in which to do things. As we grow older our perception of time changes and we realize that we have a rapidly decreasing amount of time in which to do whatever it is we want to do. Then, like me, we sometimes discover that we are “too old!” It is too late. We have missed the opportunity and the loss of opportunity is a great loss.

    It is said that the wise person is able to learn from the mistakes of others. Don’t wait too long, Doug. Your friend, Dona

    Comment by Dona — January 8, 2007 @ 4:06 am

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