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Past Tense; Present Tense....and Bring It On

Essay By: Bill Rayburn
Memoir



Happiness may be just around the corner. You never know. (approx. 675 words)


Submitted:May 27, 2012    Reads: 58    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


Past Tense; Present Tenseā€¦and Bring It On!

Do you think you'll ever be happy?

1) "No, I can't."

2) "No, I won't."

3) "Yes, I will."

Those are the only three answers to that question.

One says I am unable to be happy. Two says I am unwilling to be happy. And three says, basically, 'fuck yes'.

Until this past year in my life, I have never answered that question with number three.

Not once.

Today, as I sit placidly wherever on this bucolic ranch I happen to find myself (I have several favorite perches, with luxurious foliage to view from each one), my eyes and ears and mind and heart are looking forward. Not all of the time, but a large percentage of the time.

In the past, I would test the flexibility of my neck as I constantly gazed back at the detritus and the incredible pile of human and emotional wreckage that filled my past.

Now, I watch in wonder as my life today, and on into the future, spools out before me. Today is my domain; tomorrow and beyond of course bring fate and luck and hope into the equation. But that's ok. I'll take my chances. Sure, I look back once in a while, especially when I am seeking out things to write about.

For the first time in memory, I like what I see ahead of me.

Even as a young boy and teenager, when one would figure the focus to be strictly on the future, I put little or no faith in good things happening to me. Looking ahead was always coated with potential regret, with the possibility of failure.

What's changed?

I like to quote this line from the movie, "Havana", spoken by Robert Redford's character, Jack Weil, a professional card player approaching 60:

"I finally realized I wasn't going to die young".

Hmmm, a rather fate-tempting thing to say, but a realization nonetheless. And one I can now relate to.

I know I write from a male perspective, but I like to think that most mindsets that get labeled "male" or "female" are also interchangeable.

That quote is fatalistic and revealing, and as men, we do not have a monopoly on such thoughts. I would find it plausible if it came out of a woman's mouth.

The insight I gain from this single line of dialogue is that I've wasted enough time, it's now or never. That doesn't mean I sit here daily making lists (bucket or otherwise) of concrete things I want to accomplish.

Because, for the most part, what I want I appear to finally have.

Peace of mind.

Life isn't perfect, nor is that my goal. The mere shift of my gaze from back to front is an incredibly life-altering 180 degree shift in perspective.

I wake up smiling most mornings. My dog trusts and loves me to the point she makes me ache with the urge to protect her and love her with equal loyalty.

I poster my FB page with tropical scenes that take me mentally to paradise. I love paradise.

I have been there often, in reality. Right now, beautiful pictures suffice nicely.

Another inspirational source, less direct, but no less important, is the recent great news for LJWT. She comes out of her cancer-colored nightmare with a two year, at least, bill of good health.

I can literally FEEL the sigh of relief through her words, through her sudden impulse to joke, to tease, to mess with people, to laugh and yes to cry.

Her piss and vinegar tank has been refilled, and woe is the phony or fool or racist or homophobe who crosses her path. They will feel her very justified wrath.

People talk abstractly about inspiration that can be derived from battling and beating cancer.

I have never met LJWT.

But she has helped changed my life. Without even knowing it.

I think that says a lot about both of us.

And I bet she would agree with me on our current outlook:

Bring it on.





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