The phone rings a few nights ago. It is the little one, who is now not quite so little. In fact, she is calling from a gala in Washington, DC. She is there, having flown in from LA, because she has won a scholarship for film school from a very worthy Hispanic arts group. She is thrilled, overwhelmed by some of the heavy hitters she has spoken with.... I am thrilled for her. The kid deserves it.
...Years ago before I was truly old enough to understand, let alone appreciate, the thought, I was reading the Times Sunday Magazine. Yeah, I've been known to read it once or twice. Anyway, there was an essay in which the writer maintained that there came a time in the life of every man when he realized that he would never ever play short stop for a major league team. I'm taking liberties with the precise wording, as I am depending on memory here. "Oh, kinda silly," I thought. Still it stayed with me.
Then for years as I rejected the rat race, hesitated to put myself out there, relegated my needs to those of others, pooh-pooed my dreams, wondered what my dreams were, I always had a sense that there would be time. There would be time, once I knew. But then, the once seemingly endless stretch of that commodity yawning before me evaporated, almost at once.
It was then I began to understand. There comes a time when you know. You know that certain achievements are now beyond your physical abilities, when you realize that you no longer have the time to reach others. I thought I had made peace with that notion. But speaking on that phone that evening, drowning in the illness and dysfunction which surrounds me, rattling around the house by myself, grateful for the lonely intimacy of peace, I thought, "I'm done. My life is over." And so it is.
Actually, my story is done; the rest is denouement. The story is about her and the millions of others just coming into their own in a world of infinite possibility. This is not necessarily bad, as there is a great deal of relief there. I don't have to worry about achieving. I don't have to worry about romance. It's about being now. I can get joy from the rays streaming through the curtains as I write this. Tomorrow I will cultivate the garden and glory in the sunshine even as the sweat running into my eyes starts to sting. I will live in the moment, a luxury not afforded the younger.
And as I hung up the phone that night, I had to acknowledge that I never took the big chances. I never had that kind of confidence. I never mortgaged my future to a dream. But then that's not quite true. By following the precepts I was taught, maintaining the primacy of family above all, I was risking all. I just didn't know it. But now I do.