Youth Revisited

I’ve spent the last couple of months reclaiming my life.  I spent far too much time and energy on activities that should not have mattered as much to me as they did, and neglected what truly made me happy.  I made a conscious effort to reprioritize my life, and it’s already paid dividends.  I realized that what truly makes me happy is what I used to do until the realities of life interfered, pushing aside those activities that really brought me joy.  No more.  While I still need to do what I must, I am now making a concerted effort to rekindle the joys of my youth.  While one might say that therein lies the seeds of a mid-life crisis, another could say that they hold the source of the fountain of youth.

This weekend I rode my bicycle for about 1.5 hours.  I didn’t ride as far as I would have liked.  My body isn’t what it used to be, and I’m no longer used to sitting for an extended period of time on a bicycle braving traffic, hills, and headwinds.  My body was sore after the ride, but my spirit was satisfied.  When I was younger, I used to ride my bicycle everywhere.  I remember fondly a couple of long-haul bicycle trips I took.  On one trip in the late 1980’s, I rode with a youth group for four days from western Montana to North Idaho.  The following year, I rode for a week in western Montana.  After I went to college, I stopped taking these kinds of trips.  I rode my bicycle around campus, but it wasn’t the same.  My studies short curtailed my cycling.  After I graduated from college (many years later) and became a working family man, I didn’t start riding again – until now.  The ride this weekend was my first attempt in over two decades to recapture my passion for cross-country cycling.  I plan to ride once a month, perhaps more.  Each time I plan to ride further and build up my physical endurance.  I’m not as spry as I used to be, but the passion is still there and will carry me far.

I also revived my interest in creative writing and cartography.  When I was younger, I spent many hours writing books and stories and drawing maps.  I quit when I went to college.  Although I tried writing again in the 1990’s after I graduated, work and family took away any extra time I had.  In 2004, I started this blog to rekindle my creative writing juices.  It’s been coming back in fits and starts but came back with a vengeance this year.  This time I’m armed with a measure of wisdom I didn’t have as a youth.  I introduced discipline in my writing and cartography that I didn’t have when I was younger.  This year I finished transcribing and updating a book for young adults I wrote as a 15-year-old and finished writing a children’s story my son and I developed last year.  I’ve moved on to transcribing the first chapter of a fantasy novel I started writing in the late 1980’s but never finished.  Afterwards, I will go back to the first book I transcribed, expand on it, and review it for publication.  I haven’t started drawing maps again, but once I begin updating the fantasies I created as a youth I will develop maps for them.  This rigor will help me do something I always wanted to do as a kid but never really accomplished – publish my material.

As a youth I enjoyed drawing cartoons and illustrations.  I drew a couple of comic strips for two college newspapers many years ago; someday when my writing has taken off, I will try to resurrect them.  I also enjoy singing and writing songs.  I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, but I never did because I lacked discipline.  I’ve picked up the guitar a few times since the new year, but I haven’t made much progress yet.  I plan to increase the number of practices and eventually hire a guitar teacher.  If I can master a few songs, I’ll try to do something I’ve wanted to do for years – record an album.  My goal isn’t to be a professional singer; rather, I’d like to record it for my son.  My own father was an incredible singer.  I dreamed of one day recording a duet with him, but he passed away before I could do it.  I don’t want to pass on before leaving behind some kind of recording.  These are future plans; I realize that I can only do so much at once and am now focused on reviving these interests little by little.

I realized that in order to be truly happy, you should do what really makes you happy.  It also occurred to me that when you’re younger, you tend to do what you enjoy and have more time to do it before the realities of adult life begin pushing what you really want to do aside.  Think about what you did when you were younger that made you happy.  Do you still do it?  If not, why not?  Why not try doing it again?  It might make your life even more fulfilling or satisfying.  You’ll never know unless you try (again).

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