Are you an old soul?
A lot of people will argue that forty isn’t over-the-hill. But it will always be over the hill to me.
Give me black balloons and a whoopee cushion on my big four zero-day! Sadly, that day has passed, and I didn’t get my party.
I can see the debate. No one wants to admit that they are old. Or do they?
Hell, I’ve wanted to be ninety since the day I saw Mr. Miyagi teach Daniel San Karate. Then, I watched another old man teach some kids to be happy through Ninja training in the movie Three Ninjas.
Yep. I’ve waited a long time to be old.
Now, I may never get to be it.
Well, that remains to be seen. No one can really tell the future.
One thing I do know, however, is that I walked along the boardwalk on lunch break and was thinking about just how I might perfect my handstand before I die when all of a sudden it hit me.
The definition of my own self-worth.
So we’re worthless.
Middle-aged. Used-up. Finally settling into the cut.
Like an old train wheel, used to the track and the rolling.
When I was young and dumb as hell, my friend Justin and I decided it would be cool if we could derail a train by taking one of the loose railroad spikes out of the timber and putting it on the track.
It seemed that the spike lying down on its side might slip right under the cowcatcher and send the train off its rail.
We fiddled around on the track awhile, trying to figure just how we could be certain the wheel wouldn’t fling it off or what not… but eventually, time, or lack of interest, or God, or whatever had us just lay one on the track and run off to make another mess elsewhere.
The train never derailed. But I’m sure some dumb ass somewhere was more successful than us two young idiots. Jesus did say something about you can only be forgiven over the things you’re willing to forgive another for.
You see. The old train wheel had an advantage over us young bucks.
It had been carrying tons of weight on its shoulders for thousands of miles for many, many years.
I’m sure when it came along to that railroad spike we placed there, it just hopped right on over it, upsetting the iron spike more than anything else.
My kids asked me when they would be as old as me, and I told them never.
Of course, my wife said, “No, you’ll be Dad’s age in so and such years…”
I said, “Yeah, but you’ll never catch up.”
It’s the weight that makes us steady.
I will teach you a trick.
Take a weight and hold it anywhere uncomfortable. Just keep doing that. Eventually you’ll be able to do something no one else can.
Things are easier with weight on top, just as long as what’s underneath can hold it up. For some of us, it takes practice.
Young souls will always be tossing our old pieces at us, trying to derail us. Only cuz they have nothing better to do.
If they had some weight up there on their shoulders, a little worry maybe… direction?
Better means good. There’s a definition, you know? Challenging, engaging, questioning, influencing, not letting them be free to wander. Yes, let them wonder.
But if your mind’s wandering, so’s your kids.
Take the weight. Teach them. Jump the spike. Get a new dent.
The forties threaten us with all the same pitfalls of teenage years. Being a grown-up means we can’t just go de-rail trains. We know better.
Still dating, just the same person in a billion different ways.
Yet, we’re not yet Mr. Miyagi.
So, what’s left to do but realize what we have.
We have this time.
This time it can be different. This time we can enjoy it. This time we can be aimless animals for a while, but try to not wreck everyone else’s stuff.
We’re the grown-ups.
… and maybe we can do it without picking on all the little kids that know no better?
This wheel bends, warps, and even wobbles, but it holds the weight and it can hear the engine running us up the line.
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Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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