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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Milestones and Steppingstones

Twenty years…where’d they go?
Twenty years…I don’t know.
I sit and I wonder some times
Where they’ve gone.
--Bob Seger

 Copyright 2014 © by Ralph F. Couey

October is my favorite month of the year, for a variety of reasons.  The oppressive heat and humidity of summer is a fading memory.  The sky has become a dome of pure cobalt blue.  And all around, the green of the forest is being overtaken by the vivid reds and brilliant golds of that annual show of artistry that is autumn.  I sometimes think I merely endure the other eleven months just to get to those 31 remarkable days
It was last November 1st, and I was out running, chugging up that exasperatingly long hill that is Cedar Lane, when I realized with a bit of a shock that October had ended.  I remember feeling how unfair it was that something so anticipated and so enjoyed could arrive and disappear almost before it seemed I'd had a chance to look around, or even draw an appreciative breath.  Part of that, I know, is the perspective of age.  The older we get, the faster time seems to pass.  Unless you’re getting a root canal.
We can get so caught up in the “have-to-do’s” and “gotta be there’s” that crowd our schedules, regretting the past, fearing the future, that we can become completely oblivious to those marvelous moments of the “now.”  Those moments can appear in several ways. 

You can be hanging with your best bud, laughing and having a great time, when suddenly you realize that you’re experiencing that perfect moment of friendship. 

To hear that joyously uninhibited sound of a good old-fashioned belly laugh coming from a child who will never again be that cute.  Or that young. 

Looking across the room at the love of your life and getting a smile in return.  Not just any smile, but that special one; the one they save only for you.  

To walk beneath a Maple tree on a perfect fall afternoon at the same moment the wind passes through the limbs and showers you with leaves of gold.  A private, very personal ticker-tape parade pronouncing that life...your life...is worth celebrating.
These moments are ephemeral; filaments, really.  But these are the filaments that when woven together form the richly beautiful tapestry that tells the story of life.

The most poignant lesson that we should have learned from that tragic day we remember as 9/11 is how tenuous our hold on this life truly is, and therefore, how vitally important those moments – and those memories really are.  On any given day, a particular journey could end with a tragic suddenness that is shocking and incomprehensible.  And in the aching aftermath, all that would remain would be those moments.  And those memories.
There is a seasonal aspect to a human life.  There are the youthful springs and summers, when our energy is boundless and the possibilities are without limit.  But as we approach the Octobers, Novembers…and Decembers… it is so very important that we reach that point burdened not with a belly full of bitter regrets, but rather lifted by a heart filled with those cherished and treasured memories.
I’m not much of a wise man.  Perhaps a wise guy.  But if there was a piece of…wisdom…I could gift to you from the perspective of my years, it would be in the form of a gentle request.
As you navigate the maelstrom of activity that swirls through your days, be watchful for those moments.  When they appear, don’t ignore them, don’t blow them off.  Whatever you do, don’t let them slip by.  Grab them, hold them close; cherish them.
And then store them away, ever so carefully, within that magnificent treasure chest we call…The Human Heart.
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