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Chuck Brooks: 'Finer' things in life mean more today

The View From My Room — Year Five - #44

Life, I've learned over 61 years, is a funny thing. The beauty of getting to this stage in life is now I can appreciate it as never before.

Why is that? Why couldn't I revel in the beauty of a night under the skies at a ballpark watching our favorite team when I was younger? Why wasn't I able to stop for a moment and take stock in having lunch with an old friend I hadn't seen for years when I was younger? Was it that I was too focused on "what's next?" Was I distracted by my career and what was to come the following day? Was it that I couldn't get beyond myself and see life from a different perspective? To be able to see it as a delicate gift that I was lucky to have?

If you haven't noticed in the last two years, I have gotten so much more reflective in my day-to-day approach to existing. Does everyone do that at this point in life? I'm thinking maybe so.

The quote "Youth is wasted on the young" comes to mind so often these days for so many reasons. I researched the origin of the quote, and no one seems to know for sure where it first was articulated, but most give credit to George Bernard Shaw, a playwright who lived from 1856 to 1950.

I heard it for years growing up and in my 20s, 30s and 40s, but I never really grasped its meaning. I suspect I gave it seconds of thought before moving on to something far more important like a TV show or grading papers or a night out with friends! But it certainly has "come home to roost," as the expression goes, in recent years.

Last week, I was at TCF Stadium attending the Drum and Bugle Corps' annual contest. I was introduced to what a drum and bugle corps was when I was only 18. It was immediately a passion of mine. Though I never played an instrument in the band, I so appreciate the music at a show featuring various bands from around the country. It stirs my soul like nothing else ever has.

That said, I jumped on the light rail that afternoon and headed to the stadium where I was a guest of a band for doing them a favor in March as emcee to their gala. I was excited, to say

the least.

The day before, I was greeted by a Facebook message from a former student of mine. He wondered if I was going to the DCI show Saturday night. He must've read

something I said in one of my nightly blog entries, so I responded with a "yes, I am." He would be there with his wife and wondered if we could connect. Mind you, this was a student I hadn't seen, probably, since he graduated in 1984. We really never communicated on Facebook.

He had a younger brother. Both boys were awesome kids and students.

I was flattered he wanted to connect. So, during an intermission in the performances, we met and caught up, to some degree, regarding our lives. We decided a lunch was in order soon where his younger brother could join us as well. Perfect!

It's moments like these, and I've had my share, that mean so much to me. It's not that I didn't appreciate them when I was younger, but now they seem to have so much more significance. As we sat and talked about the then and now, and as I looked at him and listened to him talk, it was crazy strange; as I looked at the man, his face would short circuit at times and the face of the boy I remember from the early '80s would flicker in and out, exchanging places with the adult face.

We sat through the second round of performances and continued to chat before he took a selfie to send to his brother and I returned to the suite from whence I came.

It was a beautiful night and one I enjoyed beyond description. As I rode home on the light rail, I thought so much about how quickly the day had gone. The morning was all about breakfast with four others, all RHS folks. Two of them have long been retired and their friendships are more important now than ever. Then came the afternoon and the night and one I'll remember for as long as my memory allows.

One of the ladies at the breakfast I first met her when I interviewed, and we'd continue to be friends for 35 more years. I told her I am grateful for many things, but maybe my greatest appreciation comes for my memories I have of people and events. And my ability to appreciate the "finer" things in life. She agreed. May they all continue for years to come!

George Bernard Shaw for sure said, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." I'm at the age now where I can reflect on the job I've done of creating myself. I don't think it's a job that's done yet, but I'm pleased with my progress. It's a work in progress. Ta ta!