In The Past

When a man attains age 60
and has entered retirement,
he takes time for reflection.
There is a certain realization
to be pondered and resolved,
for the time has come in his life
when most things now lie
in the past…in the past.

His ability to excel in sports,
to run fast and long distances,
to jump high, to throw a ball,
to be quick and agile afoot,
is a mere memory of the past,
as old age and arthritis have
sapped his strength of muscle,
slowed his body movements.

His nimble mind that recalled
all events, both recent and long past,
that remembered lists in his head,
that worked math without help,
that knew the names of everyone
he ever met or watched in movies…
that young mind has given way
to an older mind that can only
envy its sharpness in the past.

His very purpose in life, the burden
of responsibility for a career,
for providing the needs of family,
for guiding children to adulthood,
for conquering the world’s problems
has passed to the next generation,
as these are now all things in the past.

Yes, the time comes to a man when
the majority of his life expectancy
and the best part of his abilities
now lie in the past…in the past.

But, a man must never live in the past,
for to live in the past is to become
a shell of a man, a shadow of life.
‘Though his pace be slowed, he must seek
to enjoy life to the best of his present ability,
for even in his somewhat reduced capacity,
life is good, offering so many possibilities.

No, a man must not dwell in the past.
What is past is past and cannot be recaptured.
He can take comfort in a past well-lived,
but the past must be kept in its place,
and he should strive to enjoy the present.
Every last drop of life he should squeeze
out of his existence, all the while
smiling and laughing, knowing that,
when death finally overtakes him,
he will have lived his life to its fullest,
giving his all even when he had less
and less to give. He must always look
to the future, not to the desiccated past,
for it’s the future that keeps him vital…

Harry Edward Gilleland      11.22.04