Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thank You, Hawkeye

When I was in high school in the early '80s, WSB-TV, Atlanta's Channel 2, showed back-to-back episodes of "M*A*S*H" every afternoon at 5:00 and 5:30. My brother and I watched them nearly every day; it was, and probably still is, my favorite show. Now, more than thirty years later, I have every season on DVD, and still watch episodes from time to time.

But I watch it now, not so much because it's a great show, but because when I start an episode and hear the first strains of "Suicide is Painless" and see those images of the 4077th with helicopters landing and doctors and nurses rushing around, I am again fifteen years old, with a life that stretches out before me filled with hope and excitement and possibility. I am, for the length of an episode, young again, with novels in me dying to come out and adventures waiting to be had.

For me, the hardest part about being middle-aged is not the gray hair or the thickening middle or any of the other concerns, some of them very serious, that come with growing older. It's the realization that many of the things I dreamed about when I was younger, the things that filled me with hope and excitement and possibility, just aren't going to happen.

There are many wonderful things about the life I have now; I love my wife, I am absolutely thrilled by my daughters, and I even like the job I have (at least enough of the time).

But I miss the feeling of potential and unexplored possibilities that young people have, and which life and the aging process do so much to squelch.

I wish I had known it at the time: It really was wonderful to be fifteen years old, sitting down on the living room floor in our house in Lilburn to watch "M*A*S*H" with my brother.

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