To All the Good Things Gone

After I put my kids to bed the other night, I turned off the TV, shut down my computer, and switched off my phone. I sat on the couch, alone. Just kind of stared straight ahead. And I just thought.

This wasn’t planned…I just kind of did it.

The holidays serve as markers in a life, like chapters in a book. This time of year stirs up memories of years gone by. Of a life gone by. Of life passing.

You started therapy around Christmas of ’99. The same year you graduated college. The same year you met the first real love of your life. The first Christmas after your parents separated was in ’06. It was awkward for everyone. That was the same year you celebrated Christmas in Vegas of all places…which was even more strange. The same year, you moved across country for a girl you would eventually marry.

You could do this, probably for most years of your life.

So I did it. I just sat there. With my thoughts. Wallowing in this place, somewhere in the middle of happiness and sadness. Leaning towards one, then the other. With that sad smile that comes with remembering things you loved in life, that are no longer there. Good things, that are now gone forever.

I remembered back to when I was really young. When the snow was deeper. When the Christmas cookies tasted better. When the fires were warmer. When things were funnier. When life was simpler.

I remembered old houses and former apartments I used to live in. I recalled my first Christmas tree I ever got with friends. I remembered a holiday party in college, which was the first time I didn’t wear a baseball hat, in almost 3 years. I remembered how uncomfortable I was that night. I remembered how uncomfortable I was that entire year.

Things are definitely not the same anymore. They couldn’t possibly be.

I thought about all the people that played huge roles in my life, that have since faded from my every day. People who helped mold me into the person I am today. Now basically, or wholly gone.

I thought about the changing nature of all relationships over spans of time. With people as close to me as my parents, and siblings, and best friends. Our relationship shifting and moving, ebbing and flowing, constantly reshaping. Even my relationship with my wife and kids is different…from just just a year ago. Even the people who are right here, present in my daily life. They’re not here quite like I remember them being.

I know…they couldn’t possibly be.

It’s not a negative reflection. It’s just reality. Even when you’re experiencing positive growth, you leave people and things behind. And they you. It’s natural. It’s life. Most of those things and people who have faded, won’t return. Those relationships can only exist in their ‘true’ form in my warped memory.

But all memories, the good and the bad, can play a great part in your life. They can do you a service. They can add to your happiness. To your depth. To your soul.

A lot of people talk about the past being non-existent. That all we have is this present moment. I have written those same words here. But that is a lesson, used to teach you that your past does not have to negatively affect your future.

It doesn’t mean we can’t go back and read some great pages that document our past. It doesn’t mean we can’t look back and re-read whole chapters. Chapters that document the greatest times of our lives…the greatest times of our lives to date.

This latest chapter is coming to a close. For you. For me. For all of us. Marked again by a holiday season. This holiday season. Take a look around your life right now. Things won’t ever be like this again. Change is the only constant.

Alone with my thoughts, I paid tribute to all the people, to all the good things now gone, that made me who I am. I paid tribute with fond thoughts. With smiles. With just acknowledging all of it.

It would probably do you some good to do the same.

Spend a little time wallowing in that middle place. Teetering between the happiness of a great memory and the sadness of its departure from your life. It will definitely help you appreciate how many people and things helped get you where you are today.

But it did more than that for me. I realized that in the not so distant future, I will be looking back to all these good things that I have around me now. Things that are then gone. This exercise helped me appreciate all that I have in this moment. Right now.

Without harping on your past, look back at it. It will help you appreciate your present moment. It will help you appreciate this holiday season. All the people in it. All the things shaping you right now.

Happy holidays all.