Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two Words...Used to

Perhaps the two most often spoken melancholy words in the English language are, "used to".  Past actions, realities, dreams, truths that have vanished as our lives and circumstances change over time.  There are simple "used to"'s that remind us of things we would just as soon forget..."These pants used to fit me".  The mere utterance of the statement reminding us that we have put on 25 or 30 pounds, our bodies not the way they used to be.  That one dovetails nicely with, "I used to go out for a walk almost every day, but not any more" which leads to questions like "Why?" and "When did it all change?" both questions often times requiring a introspective review of ourselves we would just as soon avoid as we eat another donut, pour ourselves a second or even third cup of coffee.  "Pass the cream and sugar please".

There are the harder "used to" sentences that bring tears to our eyes, instant statements of truth we either hate to admit, or wish we did not have to like "I used to be young", "I used to be happy" and a host of others that speak to a life on a downward spiral as we approach those end of life years wondering where it all went astray, or why we are still around while all of our friends pass away from this ailment and that as we become more intimately aware of death, realizing with each passing day that our time on this earth is closer to the end than it used to be, that since of immortality we used to have gone, replaced by wrinkles, aches and pains.  

Remember when life used to be so simple?  Do I have too answer that, or can I plead the fifth?  I ponder; was life ever really simple, or instead since birth has it always been complicated for some of us?  As I grow older, it seems as if the answers I used to know have slipped away, supposed truths now falsehoods, dreams that I thought I could attain in my life gone as the drive and desire I used to have, the boundless energy I used to have both dried up, replaced by a since of tiredness I cannot seem to escape as the complexities of every day life overwhelm me...I think to myself, "I used to be so alive, so full of energy".

There are some good "used to's" we speak, but even those seem to be filled with a certain taint, a tinge of sadness or regret.  "I used to smoke...then my Dad died of cancer" or "I used to be fat...till the doctor told me I was going to die if I did not lose some weight."  I used to be healthy...then I just stopped caring.  I used to be in an abusive marriage...then I got out.  I used to be a drug addict...then I found help, and have been clean for three years.

There are those "used to's" spoken by others that cut us to the quick, either individually or collectively. Is there anything sadder than hearing someone say, "I used to care", "I used to love you" or in a fit of anger someone saying things like, "I used to think you were handsome" or "what happened to you, you used to be so thin and now you have just let yourself go"...does not matter what "used to" is spoken to you, the chances are it is going to hurt.  America used to be great...yes, I know.

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Mountaindale, the temperatures near 60, the roof tops raining as the snow melts yet I find myself sitting inside thinking sad thoughts, and wondering just what the rest of my life holds for me.  I used to think I'd found a home here, and now I am not so's complicated, but it did not used to be so.  Both dreams and reality change, and the hopes and aspirations we used to have must change as well, but at my age coming to grips with that change is not as easy as it used to be.  Change is blowing in the wind and I know that my own life is about to change, has to change and that scares me far more than it used to, but that fear will not stop those changes from occurring.  

Perhaps the best thing I can do is sit quietly...not something I do easily...perhaps in that space of silence my own way forward can be deciphered, and with that forward vision the chaos that is now can end.   When I was much younger and faced with major life choices and decisions that approach used to work.

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