Monday, May 17, 2010

The Finish Line

I have this image in my head of a wise old man who has much to share with the younger generation. When he speaks, all within the sound of his voice stop what they are doing. Quickly and quietly they gather around to listen and absorb the knowledge and experience. They savor the stories and the time. They are patient and attentive at the foot of the old master. They listen with reverence and speak with respect. ... So much for a stock character in an old, late-night movie.

In reality you are likely to find folks well past their primes who still try to command an audience with bags of wind. With little else to do now, they saunter in and plop down in the middle of the action and cause interruption, delay, and disruption. With no regard for what other people are doing or what might already be afoot, they attempt to regale the room with anecdotes that nobody cares about, desires to listen to, or even has the time for. They start their random, superfluous ramblings with "I remember the time ...". It seems their stories have no point and are not meant to share wisdom or knowledge, but to puff themselves up, to make themselves appear relevant, to try once again to take control of the bridge of the ship they guided so long ago. However, that old ship that sailed was a very different mistress from the one here today, and the young folks have no taste of those days from long ago.

It seems a noticeably awkward stage has been approached. A point between irrelevance and retirement. Between then and now. Between burning bright and fading away. It happens to all who complete the cycle. Not all handle it with grace and dignity and strength. I wonder how I will approach the finish line, looking forward or looking back.