February 13, 2012

Time Passages

In the 1970's Al Stewart had a hit with the song, Time Passages.  Some of the lyrics so so appropriate as we strive for a satisfying retirement lifestyle. Here are a few samples:

                    Well, I'm not the kind to live in the past
                    the years run too short and the days too fast
                    The things you lean on
                    Are the things that don't last

A common habit among us retired folks is to remember "the good old days." The music was better, people were more polite, our politicians really cared about us, all the women were strong, all the men were good looking, and all the children were above average.

With apologizes to Garrison Keillor, our memories tend to sand off the rough edges, forget the societal faults and shortcomings, and leave an embellished, slightly out-of-focus view of our past.

In a very direct way Al Stewart is suggesting that that we really can't afford to live our lives constantly looking over our shoulders. Time is moving forward, seemingly faster as the years past. As i wrote a while back, We are living in a time warp. We simply don't have the luxury anymore of not making use of the days we have in front of us.

He is also reminding us that the "things we lean on," like our big homes or possessions or even stock portfolios are exactly the type of things that don't last. To spend our precious time accumulating beyond the necessities will eventually let us down.

But, in the core theme of the song, Mr. Stewart does remind us of one part of our past, lost in the passages of time, that is crucial to our happiness:

                    In these time passages
                    I know you're in there
                    You're just out of sight
                    Oh, time passages
                    Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

One special relationship, a lover, a friend forgotten and lost over the years. That is the part of the fabric of our lives that time has pushed just out of sight that is worth going back for. Buy me a ticket on the last train back to my home, the place where I feel safe because of the love of that one, special person.

Time Passages is a song that speaks to what is important. The lyrics remind us of what is worth trying to recapture if we have allowed it to slip into the haze of our past.      

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  1. Ha. Well the music was better and people were more polite. The rest not so much. Sigh.........

    1. Probably true. We all have selective memories.

  2. I'll take issue with you on only one thing: the music really was better in the 60's. My, could we ever rock!! LOL!!

    1. I used to make my living as a disc jockey on Top 40 radio stations, beginning in 1965. The songs that trigger the most memories for me are from the 60's and early 70's. As far as I can tell music stopped making much sense after 1990 though I'm sure my 30-something year old daughters would disagree.

      It was fun to see and hear the Beach Boys on the Grammy Show Sunday night. Heavens..they are all 70 years old! When did that happen?

    2. I'm 68 and I think the music was better in the 1960's and '70s but my adult children and 21 year-old granddaughter disagree. It's all about the era we grew up in.

  3. I went to a conference once where we were asked to share our best memory. I was shocked that person after person was going back decades to the day they got married, or had their first child. I thought "Really? No greater memories since then? How sad."

    I try really hard to live my life making great memories as often as possible. It's most easily achieved by continuing to try new things that are just a bit outside of my comfort zone, but never fail to give me a thrill when I've done them.

    1. Mr. Stewart makes the same point: that life isn't meant to be lived looking over our shoulders. But, I'm afraid your experience at the conference was typical.

      It seems as though most of us need a period of time to "rank order" memories. Those from an earlier part of our life have had longer to percolate out the bad parts and only remember the good. The human mind at work!

      One of my fondest memories is the trip to Maui my wife and I took last fall. That makes my 13th trip to the islands (some business & some pleasure). Certainly the two times we had our young daughters with us for Christmas on Maui will always loom large in my memory hall of fame. But, this was our first trip back in 10 years and was special because so much has changed in our lives since the last visit to Oahu in 2001.

    2. I was pondering your post again during my morning run . . . I realized that more often than not I focus on simply gathering more of the same. Meaning, my wedding day was nice, but my 5th, 10th, 20th and 25th anniversary celebrations were even better. Raising my two daughters was wonderful, but watching them establish lives and marriages of their own is even better. Graduating college was wonderful, but establishing myself in my career before retiring was even better.

      I guess my point is I live my life with a mindset that the best is still to come. And so far I have not been proven wrong. :-)

    3. For many of us who have been married a long time and really love our spouse, the day we got married and/or had children will always be the greatest moment(s) in our lives. They are the very special times that cannot be topped.

  4. Steve in Los AngelesMon Feb 13, 05:23:00 PM MST

    I think about "The Best Is Yet to Come," recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1964. Although my life so far has been pretty good, I firmly believe, in my life, that "The Best Is Yet to Come" (really!). My parents were excellent role models in that they both taught me very well that it is possible to save money to have a comfortable retirement and that it is possible to enjoy retirement. (However, my Dad was a better teacher in that he really enjoyed his retirement more than my Mom enjoyed her retirement. My Mom's illness made it much for difficult for her to enjoy her retirement. My Mom had emphysema.)

    Now if only cigarettes never were invented!!!!!..................... (Fortunately, I never smoked ANYTHING. Fortunately, my lungs are clear! I cannot smoke anything as I am allergic to secondhand smoke. I must stay away from smokers as I, otherwise, will sneeze a lot. I even had to stay from my parents whenever they smoked!)

    1. I like to take a combined approach. If I only look backward I am cheating myself of future good times. If I only think the best is yet to come then I am relegating some great past experiences to second-rate status.

      Good stuff is coming; all my best times aren't behind me. But, the times behind me were pretty good, too so I don't want to assume they will pale in comparison with what is coming.

      In simple terms: life is a collection of memories and experiences. Some are or will be good, some bad, and many not memorable one way or the other. I cherish my past, enjoy my present, and look forward to the future.

      Whew, that's kind of heavy for 6 O'Clock at night!

    2. As they say, "copy that, Steve." My mother died of lung cancer, my father of emphysema. She was 70, he 77. Other than the smoking induced illnesses. they were in great shape. It's been a lot of years, and now that cigarettes have been cast out for the danger they are, I've sort of gotten over it. However, it just drives me nuts to see young healthy people picking this up. I have counseled a few co-workers as to the miserable deaths my folks experienced if I know them well, but any more I've adopted a pretty much "mind my own business attitude." It's hard to believe how just about all offices pre 1980 were as smokey as bars were 5 years ago. I traveled to Georgia a few weeks ago and met my boss (smoker) in the bar across the street from the hotel. Who knew? Once you got past all the warning signs it was smoking allowed inside! Even here in THE tobacco state NC that's not allowed. Anyway. Time passes...and things change.

    3. Steve in Los AngelesMon Feb 13, 09:11:00 PM MST

      Bob, thanks for your message. Although my life so far has been pretty good, I still believe, at least in my case, that "The Best Is Yet to Come."

      Allan, I am so sorry about the loss of your parents. One of the reasons why my past life was not as good as I would have liked is that my parents' health (especially my Mom's health) started to decline in the 1990's. My Mom passed away in January 2000. My Dad passed away in October 2002. I cringe when I see a cigarette smoker. I try to avoid cigarette smokers and secondhand smoke as much as possible. Thank goodness California has some of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the United States!

  5. A smidgen of nostalgia is a fine thing, but I know too many people whose lives are wrapped up in their pasts. I refuse to be that way. I have lifelong friends, longtime friends, and a few new ones; old interests and new ones; old ambitions and new ones. I think I'm with Ricky Nelson in "Garden Party":

    If you've got to play at garden parties,
    I wish you a lot a luck;
    But if memories were all I sang,
    I'd rather drive a truck.

    1. An absolutely perfect song selection, Jean. I love that Ricky Nelson song. It relates the true story of a performance of his at Madison Square Garden where the audience wanted him to look like the guy who sang Poor Little Fool and Hello, Mary Lou. He didn't and was booed off the stage. Change is tough for people.

  6. Steve in Los AngelesMon Feb 13, 09:41:00 PM MST


    As you and possibly other people know, I do a LOT of walking. Even today, when the Los Angeles area received some light rain, I was out for my usual four-mile (or more) round-trip walk. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not engage in enough physical activity. Please examine the following web site (from CBS News):


    As important as my personal finances are, my health is of FAR greater importance, especially as I get chronologically older. Although I think about my health on a daily basis, I think about my health a LOT as I get closer and celebrate each birthday, which I will be celebrating next week. The fact that I still am around to celebrate each birthday means that I must be doing something right with regard to my overall health as well as to my physical activity level.

    1. I checked the list on the web site and glad to see Phoenix gets a B- score. Since it is too hot to do anything outside at least 4 months of the year that is a pretty good score!

    2. And just a quick reminder that in order to achieve cardiovascular results you need to increase your heart rate to roughly 70% of normal. Which for most people means breaking into at least a light sweat. Walking without enough effort burns calories and makes you feel better, but it doesn't provide much benefit to your cardiovascular system.

      A good rule of thumb is you should exert yourself enough to make talking feasible, but slightly uncomfortable. Meaning, you could carry on a conversation, but you'd really rather not.

    3. I need to step up my speed on the treadmill at the gym. When I walk 2 miles around the park near my home I complete it in 35 minutes...a decent pace. But, at the gym I'll complete the same distance in over 42 minutes...too slow. I'm probably not doing my heart much good, though it helps my energy and flexibility.

  7. Hi Bob,

    This struck me very strongly: "We are living in a time warp. We simply don't have the luxury anymore of not making use of the days we have in front of us."

    A very beautiful inspiration to remember those who have touched us in special ways! Thank you.

    1. I'm glad it resonated with you, Sandra. Those who touch us deeply don't come around all that often.


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