Last night I fell asleep while leafing through my high school yearbook. I’m connected to a lot of old classmates on Facebook, and it’s funny how different many of us are now.
It’s no surprise, of course. We have to change. In appearance and in mindset. That’s what we do. Yet we still fixate on the old days sometimes.
I came across pictures of folks I never talked to in high school. Then there are those I knew but didn’t like. That’s OK, because they didn’t like me either. A few classmates are no longer with us.
It’s odd and cool that I’m friendly today with people I didn’t like back then.
I spend a lot of time getting nostalgic in this blog. I’ve written about Revere a million times. I used to want to go back to those days, as bad as some of those days were, because for awhile there I was skinny and had long hair. We tend to remember how we looked and not necessarily how we felt.
I guess it’s easy to understand why I wanted to go back to the 1980s when I was a perfect mess in my late 20s. When you’re a mess in the present, you tend to forget that things were as bad or worse in the past. You want to be anywhere than where you are.
But I don’t feel that way anymore.
Why the hell would I ever want to go back now?
If I were walking up the street and I encountered the 20-year-old me, I wouldn’t like the kid. I’d marvel at his stupid views of the world and his tendency to talk trash about his dad, even though his dad kept a roof over his head. I’d laugh at the fringe leather jacket and the skull rings. I was a pretentious little bastard.
And for all the pretending and efforts to look cool, it never got me anywhere with the opposite sex. Not in high school, anyway.
I like the 40-year-old me much better. I’m bald and thicker around the middle, but I’m real. And I’m not quite as thick in the middle as I was a few years ago.
I know who I am and I am who I want to be: A husband, a dad, and a writer.
I have a wife and two kids who don’t really care what I look like as long as I’m good to them.
Looking at the other kids in the yearbook, I picture older, wiser people who I see as friends today. I used to pick on one girl for getting pregnant in high school and wasting her future. She married the guy she was with in high school and they had more children. One child died too early. But they’re a loving family.
Another kid was nothing but a punk to me. The message he scrawled in my yearbook was so mean a teacher who saw it took white out to the page. Today, that dude is a close friend.
Looking at who we were in the yearbook and who we are today, I think most of us should be proud.
We didn’t grow up to be perfect and, in many cases, we didn’t grow up to be rich. But through all the aging and all the pain that we all go though between age 20 and 40, we’ve gained something much more precious: a purpose.
We’re parents who get a chance to raise kids who might eclipse us in a variety of ways. Our work, however unimportant it may seem sometimes, could end up helping people we’ll never meet.
We’re still young enough to change a few things we still don’t like about ourselves. Maybe it’s extra unwanted weight. Maybe it’s the career. If 40 is the new 20, we have plenty of time to make changes.
The way I see it, as long as we never lose our ability to change, there’s hope for us all.
Changing. Adapting. Getting stronger and better.
It’s who we are now. And it’s much cooler than who we were.