The Lives We Live

When I was young, and even as I grew older, I believed we had one life to live. I suppose, in a literal sense, that’s still true, but I’ve come to understand that there is a difference between life, and the lives we live within that life.

The transitions are so gradual that we don’t always know they’re happening. But one day, when we choose to stop for more than a few moments and look back at the different phases our lives have visited , we realize the person in that photo may not think or act the same; may not believe what he or she once did when they were innocently smiling at the camera.

When we’re young we live a life of innocent freedoms. Days that never end, summers that last forever, years that we trust will always be there. School is a double decade that gradually introduces us to less freedom, some stress and relationships with family and friends that have the power to shape and influence our lives forever. We were born into these first twenty years and when the transition into “adulthood” happens, we head into it as a continuation of what we know, combined with changes to our daily life and schedules, but never really looking back. Well, maybe when loss rears its ugly head, when we find that we have to navigate the future without someone we always thought would be there for us. We may take a moment to look back then. To remember what was.

But there are things to do. A life to live. Or at least this part of our life. We have jobs, sometimes marry, sometimes begin families and for the next twenty or so years, become that person. We live that life of advancing our careers or attempting to keep our jobs. If we’re married and have children, we run as if the next event, game, concert, field trip, party, sleepover or dance is life altering.  Until it abruptly stops, and children go to college or find a job and hopefully move out.

And we transition again.

Sometimes this change is a little more noticeable. Sometimes we pause a little longer. Our families grow smaller before they get bigger. Family celebrations are different because some of the people at the center of those celebrations are no longer with us. So we sometimes move to other homes and begin different traditions. Our mornings are a little more quiet, our evenings require less running and we find more time for ourselves to enjoy this part of our lives. If we’re fortunate, our working lives begin to wind down and we find time to appreciate time.

If we’re lucky.

These lives we live change us in different ways. Our centers become different or altered at times. Our judgments, mindsets, and beliefs all find different ways or equations to the answers in front of us. Hopefully our core values remain the same but that’s never a given. We may want to believe we are the same person today as we were twenty or thirty years ago, but we aren’t. In truth, how can we be? We’ve lived and lost too much. We’ve gained new experiences, travelled, developed new friendships, learned new ways and came to appreciate the lives we live now, more than ever.

I look back at old photos now and wonder what that boy or young man was thinking of at the time, what his day was like and what he was looking forward to tomorrow. I wonder if he had a plan or dream that day. I wonder what was making him laugh in that moment, why he chose to buy that ugly shirt and when he was going to finally get a haircut.  I wonder if he would change anything if he knew everything.

Personally, I believe he wouldn’t change a thing.

P.S. I’ll be back soon.

 

 

50 thoughts on “The Lives We Live

  1. Jennifer Kelland Perry

    So very true, George. We can’t stay the same person we start out being because of the changes our lives endure. We aren’t meant to remain static.
    This is such a coincidence, you posting today. Only this morning, I mentioned to my husband about your absence. Thinking of you. ❤

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      1. Sadah

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  2. Svet Pavlovsky

    That is quite a philosophical post. I also noticed that there are various phases of life (school, university, kids, …) especially when I stop for a moment and reflect back. One thing I know today (after shaken well by various life circumstances) is that some of my past choices I would have done differently if they were to happen today. I believe that we are constantly changing hopefully for the better.

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    1. George Post author

      We make our choices based on what we know and have experience at the time, though sometimes we know we’re taking a chance..:)
      Life is a interesting journey, isn’t it..:)

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  3. aginggracefullymyass

    Wow – that was deep! And very spot on… Thank you for putting very succinctly what seems to have been floating around in my head for a while but never quite coalesced! I’ve spent a lifetime healing from some deep wounds that profoundly affected me, and yes, if I knew then what I know now, I would have done many things very differently. Some of those past lives were not well lived. But I’m so grateful for living my ‘more mature’ lives much better!!
    And please be back soon with more wonderful posts!

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you very much for your kind words. Past lives are interesting. Sometimes I wonder what I was possibly thinking at the tome, but we move and react based on what we knew then. We’re so much ‘smarter” today..:)

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  4. Kate Crimmins

    So true. Sometimes I look back and wonder what I was thinking. There are some changes I would make and some I wouldn’t, letting life play out. However, we don’t get that choice. Always looking forward to making the right decisions for where we are now.

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    1. George Post author

      Thanks, Kate. I guess we made our choices based on our lives at the time and what we think we knew to be true. But all our choices made us who we are today..for better or worse..:)

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  5. murisopsis

    I have looked back and I am please to say that I like all of the people I’ve been – the naive youth, the hesitant teen, the intrepid college student, the confident young adult, the excited spouse, the frightened new parent, and the contented worker heading into yet another phase. Change is inevitable – how we approach that change is the deciding factor for whether we strive, thrive or just survive.

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    1. George Post author

      Good for you… that’s a happy life well lived…)
      You’re right about change. We sometimes never see it coming until we look back and realize where we were..:)

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  6. deepasthoughts

    It’s such a thought provoking one George. I was looking at a decade old pic and was thinking the same thing. I was wondering what my thoughts were and why I wanted to take a pic like that. I couldn’t relate to that person in the pic and I am sure she wouldn’t have related to the person that I am now. Loved reading it.

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    1. George Post author

      Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s funny how looking at an old photo can bring back such interesting and thought provoking questions….:). If we only knew then..:)

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  7. Ann Coleman

    It’s so good to hear from you again, George! I have thought of you and your wife often in these past weeks. And I loved this post because it is so insightful and true. We do change as we grow older, which is a good thing because we are being shaped by the changes in our lives. I do think that most of our core values remain the same, although how we apply those values can certainly change. Amazing post….

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    1. George Post author

      Thanks so much, Ann. I hope you’re doing well and enjoying that little baby😊
      It’s funny how we see ourselves, then and now. I just wish I could look at some old photos and remember exactly what I was thinking and feeling. But the further away I get, the more difficult it gets to remember everything. There was somebody there once. I just wonder how much he’s the same and how he’s changed..:)

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  8. Osyth

    When my daughters were growing up and still from time to time I used to say to them ‘everything changes, nothing stays the same’ and it is true. The trick is to embrace every moment, to be in it at the time and to not regret. Easier said than done but overall it is best and it is clear to me that you have mastered the trick very nicely. I wish you well, hope your wife is going on well and will be delighted to ‘see’ you whenever you pop up in this place 🙂

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Osyth. It’s always good to hear from you.
      Great advice to your daughters. Living in the moment and being the best person we can be can make for a very happy life..:)

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  9. The Coastal Crone

    Many of us relate to this very thoughtful post. I sometimes wonder what that young woman was thinking when she made those bad choices but I suppose she did the best she could with the life experiences at that age. She certainly seems wiser for those experiences today. May your next chapter/event be good and return when you are able.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you and I believe you’re right, we make the best possible choices based on what knew or had experienced at the time. Though sometimes I wonder what exactly I was thinking..:)

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  10. sportsattitudes

    George, I too can relate to what you’ve written here. The transitions in life sometimes seem seamless. Of course, there are events that can accelerate the process greatly…but I think just as often people evolve without even noticing how quickly…and by how much.

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    1. George Post author

      You’re absolutely right, Bruce. We do evoke without noticing and when we have the time to look back, we’re sometimes surprised how much time has passed and how much we’ve changed or, as you said, evolved. Life is interesting.
      Are you still on a Super Bowl high? I hope so..:)

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      1. sportsattitudes

        George, still “high.” Trying not to be too greedy, but really excited about the upcoming season and the possibility of doing it all over again. Giants have themselves a rookie runner I expect big things from. They may very well be the Eagles’ main competition in the East this Fall.

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      2. George Post author

        It should be an interesting year. It’s funny, once you win you love the idea that you have the talent to win it again, but if you don’t, you’re still happy you did. Of course that only lasts for a year or two and then you get itchy again..:)

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  11. Kim Gorman

    I love this post, George. It is so thoughtful and well-written. As I grow older, I realize I am gaining insight into my life that I wish I had had many years before. At the same time, as you state, would I have done anything differently? On my way home from work today, I was literally thinking about the people who have passed, and what I wished I had done differently with them, and then I said to myself, well, she shouldn’t have always called at dinner time, etc. etc. So I think you’re right, we do the best we can at the time and, as Oprah says, when we know better, we do better. Thanks for this!

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    1. George Post author

      Hi, Kim…great to see you. Oprah has it right. I wish we knew then what we know now but you know how that goes..:)
      I’ve just been struck recently about we move from life to life so seamlessly at times. What was normal
      Once is no more. It’s just different. But it’s still us..::)

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    1. George Post author

      Thanks, Kay…it is a bit sad in some ways. Maybe it’s just me being retrospective these days but I’m fascinated how our lives are so different at different times. Our daily routines, how we go about the day, who we interact with, how we think…it’s like multiple lives within our life. Or maybe I’m just crazy😘

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  12. Ilona Elliott

    I’ve been off my reading schedule for a while now and came back today. This is such a great blog post George, one of three I’ve read that have made me think about how we change over time and how our lives turn and twist and how that accelerates change for us. It’s definitely a ride and we are not often in control, just doing the best we can to negotiate the turns in the road. Best wishes to you George.

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