Sometimes one line from a song get stuck in my head. Not the latest ear worm, but a random song. Lately it’s been the chorus of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages.” It goes, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. (Even though I’m not a huge fan of the Dylan version, the Byrds’ cover is a little more upbeat.
I’ve been singing that a lot to myself lately. Maybe it’s because I feel like something has changed. As I’ve written numerous times before, I thought life was something linear: college, job, marriage, kids, etc. I’d get upset that things weren’t traveling in a straight direction. Maybe I cared a little too much about the rules. Maybe I took life a little too seriously in high school and college. I got worried when i didn’t get a full-time job right out of college like a few of my friends did. I had done everything right, basically, why hadn’t I gotten my just desserts?
Maybe I’ve learned to embrace a little bit more wonder in my life. Granted, that’s easy for me to say right now. I’ve got a job I like and I now own a condo. Objectively, life is good. But I think I’ve learned to find those things that really can’t be measured objectively. Things like going to the library and just browsing around for a while, a long walk that brings me somewhere new, a turkey sandwich, sitting down to write. Those are all good things. They provide with a sense of joy, curiosity, and the willingness to keep going with a smile on my face and an open heart.
I forget those moments I had as a kid at times. Whether that was getting lost in a Lego set or playing knee hockey downstairs in the basement with my brother, those moments have slipped away far too easily. Those moments when the concept of time seemed to disappear. There weren’t rules or goals or places to be. You just had whatever was in front of you and you made something cool of it.
I think we hammer that out of our kids much too early. We don’t have time to make snow forts because there is practice or a camp. And if you don’t take part in these organized things, you will fall behind. I suppose that’s an easy straw man to set up, but it feels like those carefree days slip away right around high school.
I still get stressed out about things: mortgage, work, fixing things in my place. I get that there has to be a balance of adult things and things that allow you to wander. I just wish we had found a better balance of things.
Maybe that’s what Dylan meant with that chorus. You “grow up” at some point, but maybe growing up and getting older aren’t the same thing. Stay young, wander around, don’t take things so seriously. I may have figured it out. Maybe that’s why I’m singing.