Wow. When first I read this I was reminded of the Bruce Springsteen song, “One step up and two steps back.”
“When I look in the mirror I see,
Not the man I wanted to be
Somewhere ‘long the way I stepped off-track.
Movin’, one step up and two steps back”
The only thing is: although I love the song, I always have a hard time finishing the last line of that refrain. I don’t think I moved back at all
“When I look in the mirror I see”
An older me. The goatee, now sports some grey hairs. I think they actually look cool, ‘distinguished’. I wonder If I will feel the same way when I start graying up top , or (ahem) below.
Not the man I wanted to be
But then who is. I certainly wasn’t gifted with the foresight to imagine in my 20’s (when I was gallivanting around the Lower East Side of NY, and later Philly’s South Street) that I would find myself married (what?) and with two kids (WHAT?). Lord knows I am lucky to have them and consider myself blessed that 10 years ago my love actually said yes when, on a rainy night, in a gondola suspended over the East River, I presented her a band of gold. The man I became is much more successful than the boy I was. In fact, most of the goals I had as a youth were really not a man’s goals. Instead they were dreams and extensions of being a kid. Desiring a fancy sportscar to replace the hot-wheels and Matchbox cars of youth.
“Somewhere along the way I stepped offtrack”
Off-track is often viewed as an accident, or undesireable incident, but I view it differently. I walked a path different than that I initially saw myself following. I intentionally veered. That my path is different than I imagined it would be is good. Like most kids I was sure I would be dead by 30. Now I pushing 50 and have nothing but joy to look forward to: Silver annivesary (my word, 10 years have already passed so quickly) First crushes, Graduations, Weddings. I look forward to all of this, and none of this was on the radar of the twenty something who first heard that song all those years ago.
“Movin’ one step up and two steps back”
And that’s the part where I disconnect. The Boss is an incredible story-teller who takes his own experiences and makes us live them. So although I can sing these lyrics, and sympathize with them, I don’t truly feel them. That last line is not mine. I’ve taken many steps, and not all of them have been on the same path. However each one of them has taken me somewhere that I value. Each path has taught me something, or showed me somewhere: places I may not initially have sought out or placed value in. But every experience is a learning one. And although I may have enjoyed some experiences more than others, sometimes wished certain paths were longer, and others shorter; I am fortunate to have traveled each of them. And fortunate to have had company along the path.