We had the impression that everything was a game – we thought we made everything up as we went along. When we were children, we had the impression that almost everything was just for fun- no harm intended, no damage done.
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
Every period eventually becomes a remember when part of your life. Some periods you will want to return to and others you will offer another prayer of thanks that they have passed.
I started journaling around the age of 21. I thought I’d want to look back one day and remember what I felt like, what I was thinking.
Eventually, I started putting quotes in my journals. If I heard or read something that struck me, I’d add it to my account on life.
I did the journaling for years. However, these days I rarely, if ever, do it. I can blame time or lack thereof. Maybe, I don’t feel as great a need to chronicle my life. When we are 21, don’t we all think our life is worth chronicling? I’m gonna be this, I’m gonna be that.
The truth – I think the blog has satisfied that urge now. Well, that and I lost one of my journals.
I distinctly remember sitting on a New Jersey Transit Train riding somewhere past the swamps of New Jersey (a little Springsteen quote –Rosalita – come out tonight). It was a perfect autumn day and enough colorful leaves were hanging on the trees so that all I wanted to do was stare out the window. It was 1995 and shortly after the OJ Simpson trial. I was bothered by the verdict and what it meant in terms of America and Americans. The divisions seemed so great.
Somehow that journal disappeared. It probably took up a seat for a few minutes till the cleaning crew prepared for the next run from Trenton to Manhattan.
Anyway, the quote above from John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany has yet to make it into my current journal. Instead, it sits in my top drawer. It has survived multiple purges. As I look at the quote, I don’t remember why exactly I loved it or why it moved me.
I do know that I liked the book (my wife loves it) – a lot. However, I don’t remember much about it. I recall that Owen has some challenges. Despite these challenges, he is very smart, wise even. I believe the book is written through the perspective of a childhood friend of Owen’s who is looking back on their growing up together.
And that’s it. That’s all I remember.
But there’s the quote.
The other day I asked my wife what she missed about being young. We are most definitely middle age. She did not really say much. However, she did turn the question back on me.
You want to know what I miss? I miss the thought that anything is possible. You know how when you are a kid you believe, really believe, that through imagination or determination all is possible. Whether it’s dancing on a cloud, befriending your favorite Hollywood starlet, or running the world, somehow it can happen. You are young, strong, and hopeful. The world exists for you.
And I think that is what the quote is saying. Life is like a game when you are young. You laugh at it. There are timeouts and even time for do-overs. Things matter only as much as you allow them to matter.
Maybe, it’s time to reread A Prayer for Owen Meany.