TREASURES OF THE HEART
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” --Thornton Wilder
When I work out in our home gym, I listen to John Fogerty’s Long Road Home album, singing loud as I can to every song I remember from the 60’s and 70’s—Who’ll Stop the Rain, Down on the Corner, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Lodi. I finish feeling re-energized and young again thanks to the music. I loved those songs back then and I love them now, especially since now I know all the words. Nothing like a little Creedence Clearwater Revival to feel young, young, young.
I watched a movie the other day in which two of the characters made love to a CCR song. I could understand how the song I admired could move them to such action. Then, my bubble burst. I realized the producer of the film chose this song to show that this segment of the movie took place in the PAST. If you were a viewer who knew the words to this song, it meant you were OLD, OLD, OLD.
I’m not alone in my delusions of youth. Otherwise, why the ongoing popularity and financial success of the Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, The Beatles (in number of albums still sold), and Neil Diamond? Cher, Bette Midler, and Tina Turner sold-out concerts? Most of us boomers still have our heads in the clouds thinking we’re the young ones who are going to change the world. Sometimes looking in the mirror shocks us into reality but not even that hurts like listening to the music we love and coming to the aching conclusion that we loved it 45 YEARS AGO as well!!!!
Actually, there is a bigger hurt than realizing our age. I’ll be listening to one of my favorite old songs, maybe playing it on my guitar and singing, and tears spring unbidden into my eyes. That old song isn’t just an old song anymore but a repository of memories, a jumble of friends, places, and potential left fallow. How I long to go back and be there in that time once again just to soak up the love and the longing and the import of each small and ordinary measure of time, to see up close again the faces of those I loved.
I tried, oh how I tried, to hold on to each wonderful moment of life as long as I could. I tried to heed what Thoreau said, to be alive, really alive and see how wonderful even the most routine of moments really are. Sometimes, though, life got heavy and I made haste, forgetting to savor. Thornton Wilder’s Emily was right when in Act III of Our Town she asks Mrs. Gibbs, “They don’t understand, do they?”
Maybe, Emily, the problem is not that we don’t, it’s that we can’t. Only at this end of our story do we understand the significance of those everyday occurrences that got us to where we are now. Awareness of what was precious comes to us now when there’s no way to rewrite that old chapter. Time requires that we let go and move on. When we hear an old song or see an old photo we suffer a moment of comprehension that is painful in its clarity. Suddenly, our hearts are conscious of our treasures. This is what it means to be alive.