Christmas 2016 is little more than a memory now. A bare tree daring you to dismantle it and a dumpster in the alley overflowing with Christmas debris. Now we enter a brief period of downtime...a perfect time to reflect. Yes, reflection on exactly what was your spouse thinking when they bought you that totally useless (fill in the blank here) for Christmas. Reflect on what exactly was your brother-in-law thinking when he told that boob joke at the dinner table at Christmas. Reflect on why did you spend hundreds of dollars on your children's presents and they are playing with that stupid cardboard box! Okay, take a deep breath. It's over...for three hundred and sixty some odd days.
This time of year most of us tend to reflect on our year that just passed at warp speed before our very eyes. Yep, 2016 has one foot in the grave as we speak. In our minds, we begin evaluating our life throughout the year. We categorize various events and place them in imaginary folders in our minds. We have a 'Best Of 2016' folder, a 'Worst Of 2016' folder, and some of us have a 'Gee I Can't Believe I Survived' folder. I have a 'Meh' (uninspiring; unexceptional) folder this year. Before I sat down to begin this article, I forced myself to reflect on the past year and really all I got was a shrug your shoulders, 'meh' sort of feeling. Wasn't a bad year by any means...wasn't an overly wonderful year...just a 'meh' year.
I must confess I've caught myself reflecting on the future quite a lot lately. I'm not clairvoyant (I have known a few of those people) but I find myself unable to spend much time reflecting on the past because of this growing obsession with the future. For example, in the near future, which will be the past before some of you read this, I will trek off on an adventure that is sure to go into my 'Gee I Can't Believe I Survived' folder. Yes, Dallas, Texas! I've not been to Dallas in...well, some of you weren't born yet. Just me, my daughter, and Siri (the chick in the iPhone, you know.) Have you ever driven in Dallas? The only place worse to drive is Houston...well, maybe San Antonio. Flashback: There we were in the far left lane of an eight-lane interstate in the middle of San Antonio during rush hour and Siri suddenly blurts out,
In four feet turn right onto the exit ramp. Turn right! Turn right! Well, you really screwed that up!"
Maybe I'll leave Siri at home. And let my daughter drive in Dallas.
Beyond Dallas, if I survive that, are what Facebook and the IRS like to call 'Major Life Events.' My youngest will graduate from high school. College will follow (hence the upcoming trip to take a campus tour...the first of how many?) So, I find myself reflecting on life after hight school, something I've not done since well, Nineteen Seventy Something (an absolutely charming novel written by yours truly.) What comes next? (tapping my fingers on the table as my mind wanders.) I've said more than once that some day I shall run off to Mexico and take up residence in a hut on the shores of the Pacific. I'll drink Tequila Sunrises while some pretty young senorita rubs my back as the sun sets...yeah, see that's not realistic. Those senoritas don't come cheap even in Mexico and tequila gives me headaches.
I live in a small west Texas town. It's a great place to raise kids. It's a great place to grow old with the woman you've been madly in love with since high school. But the kid is looking at a university in Dallas and the woman I was madly in love with in high school is happily married to some old geezer in California. And, did I mention west Texas? I came out of church on Christmas morning and discovered one of our famous west Texas dust storms was ravaging the land. On my way home I had a head on collision with a tumbleweed the size of a John Deere tractor. Seriously, I pulled over to see if it knocked out the grill on my pickup. And there's nothing to do for entertainment here anymore. I mean, the Walmart is even shutting down! Heck, I've dated every single woman in town and really didn't click with either one of them.
So...(tapping my fingers on the table as my mind wanders) I reflect on the future. I don't have a crystal ball and the clairvoyant chick is gone. She predicted she would be the night we met.
In a soft voice much like Siri would speak, she said, "Don't put a lot of effort into this. You're just going to screw it up."
I tell ya...she could predict the future!
Ah, but I caught myself reflecting on the past. The future is where I want to be. I believe I shall spend the rest of the afternoon munching on that jar of cashews I got for Christmas and reflecting on the future, which starts right...
I dropped that cashew down in the crack of the couch. It was a big one, too. Going after it...