We aren’t “high society” by any means…But as I showered this morning, Waylon’s “Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” (Youtube) came up on the playlist while washing my hair.
Epiphany. Let me explain.
I’ve listened to that song probably thousands of times since freshman year of high school (Hey, I’m from Texas, and it was the 70’s…You either listened to C&W or KIXS on the FM dial, and the song was released that summer), just loving the tune and lyrics. But from the perspective of a fellow who has completed one career and is fourteen years from completing another, the meaning of the lyrics one day come dreadfully to life:
There comes a point in a working person’s life when the realization that all of the weekends, late nights, and holidays sacrificed to get to the position one occupies have left one “comfortable” – But that having established the reputation of being that Type “A” personality who is shooting for Senior Vice President before retiring, there’s no halt to the sacrifices until that point is reached.
And when you reach it, then what? My wife & I don’t fight like the Hatfield’s and McCoys, but I don’t think either of us, after thirty-one years of marriage, believe we’ve had the opportunity to spend as much time together as we like. Me and my work, our raising three children (all now grown and gone), me and my VFW and American Legion and Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors and North Georgia Corps of Cadets Association Board of Directors and volunteer work with recently separated veterans, her and her mini-chicken farm, hobbies, and bill paying (yes, I, the only member of this household who’s ever been employed, live on an allowance, just shoot me)…Yeah, it got me where I am, with a heart attack along the way.
Wouldn’t I rather live in a small house in San Antonio or Austin, working a 9-5 job, and have all that time we’ve missed? You bet. But the values and discipline my father and the army bestowed on me never would have allowed that…They raised my expectations of myself so high that I’ll be reaching for the next rung on the ladder until I fall into the cremation pit.
It’s something to think on. I’m afraid I and the army instilled the same values and discipline on my son, and I feel guilty about that. My daughters are free spirits who are just as happy crashing on a friend’s couch for a couple of months to save money for something they want, and they are expert at lowering their expectations – A trait I’m envious of.
If I had it to do again, knowing what I know now, I think I’d live life differently. Impossible to know, of course, but I like to think that I would. Of course, like every other major rumination I come across, it’s too late to change things now…But perhaps a discussion on the matter with my kids, and my grandkids, is in order.
You don’t have to make first string, or cross the finish line first, you just have to make the team. File that among the many things I wish I’d learned long ago.