We are all a product in progress. I know this. I know what this means to me but then again, I come from a different time. I come from time before technology took over the world. This is a time before the internet. I come from way back when people used their home phones. I remember when answering machines came around and when rotary phones became a thing of the past. I remember music and music stores with albums and record players.
There were no cell phones or phones with cameras or video. In fact, I come from a time when there weren’t cameras everywhere you turn.
I can say that my youth was fortunately before the blitz of what technology has become, which is almost everything. I came from a time before the cell phone craze. There was no texting or Facebook messaging. There was no such thing as social media. There was only talking and personal interaction and, therefore; there were fewer moments of misread intentions.
I come from a time when none of this existed. No one was so offended on a daily basis. We had used to interact. There is no video evidence of this, nor is there any video evidence of my youth so therefore, there is no proof that some of what I say existed. However, I know what I know.
I know what I saw. I know my interpretation of the laws from my past. I understand the interpretation of my outcomes and that I acknowledge that I am from a different generation. I understand that all things do and must change. Then again, I’m not sure that technology has always changed us for the better.
There is a question that came to mind last night.
The question is what have I done?
The question itself is fair. What have I done?
What have I done with my memories? Or my youth?
What have I done with my life and what have I done with my choices?
I seldom look back with envy or guilt because I know there is no redemption with this. I do not look back with anger nor do I find shame with who I was.
I do not regret my past. At least, not anymore. Instead, I have come to different conclusions. I have reached new levels of awareness.
What have I done?
I know about the days when life was crazy. I know about the days when I’d shave the edges of my square personality to slip through the fashion of round holes. I had to learn. I had to adapt. I had to come to the conclusion that no amount of pretending, no amount of lying to myself or storytelling, and no amount of acting can or will ever change who I am.
I look back at the boy I was and think of the kids I’ve met over the last few years. I think of them and their struggles to grow and learn about life. I think about the necessary lessons that extend far beyond classrooms and appropriate teachers. I think about the bullies of my time and the cyber bullies of today.
I can say that some things change. I can also say that many things remain the same. For example, the need to fit and feel comfortable is still around. The need to find one’s self is still consistent with the generations before. And at the core, we are still blood and bone. At least, I hope so.
What I’ve done is something relatable to most. I grew. I lived and I’ve lost. I’ve seen things that changed my life and I’ve witnessed life that changed the way I view things. I see the world differently now at 48 years-old. This is certainly much different from the way I saw things at 28.
I used to be caught up in all the ideas of things I never did. I was always stuck on the ideas of places that I’d never been to. I was somehow misled and believed that because of this, I was somehow flawed.
I never went to a real high school. I never graduated with a class. I never went to a prom of any kind. I never even went to a school dance. I never went through driver’s education. And each year when the spring comes, I am reminded of this. I am reminded when I see pictures on social media of friends with their children in caps and gowns. I am reminded of this when I see announcements of which college their kids chose. I see my friend’s pictures of their sons or daughters after passing their driver’s test. I see them in their first car or when they are about to embark on their very first drive.
I see this and cheer and yet, admittedly, a piece of my old self comes out. Part of my old self sees this like a child that was punished and missed out on the chance to play.
I have learned to comfort myself with this. I have learned to pay my lessons forward. I have learned to teach my inner self that although my past was my past; I have made the most amazing strides along the way.
What have I done?
I have learned how to become my best friend instead of my enemy. As an old dog, I have taught myself new tricks. I have defied my inner demons and the internal monologue more than once.
I have built things. I have created a new life. I have mourned my losses but most importantly, I have learned new ways to be reborn.
There are very few pictures of me from when I was younger. Fortunately, no one I knew carried a video recorder, which means there is no evidence.
Still, I wonder what I would say if I were to see myself as I was. I wonder what I would say if I were to see the way I dressed or if I could hear the way I spoke. I’m sure I would cringe. I’m sure I would partly laugh and partly cry.
Maybe I would see things that I missed or I could have followed the foreshadowing of my life a bit more closely. The ends I had faced were certainly obvious. For every action there is a reaction and no amount of technology will ever change this.
As for the question, “What have I done?”
I suppose the rhythm of this question would have a different appeal if I were able to see a video of my former self.
What have I done?
Well, some of what I’ve done has been journaled and published. Some of what I’ve done has been confessed to by a Man of the Cloth and none of this will ever be spoken of again. A lot of what I’ve done has helped me overcome myself. But mostly, all of what I’ve done is what’s allowed me to become who I am.
Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “Time it was, and what a time it was. It was a time of innocence, a time of confidences. Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. They’re all that’s left to you.”
Because of what I’ve done, I understand this more now than ever before.
I have more to go, more to do, more to change and more to become.
The product is not finished.