Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wasted Chances

My patriotic friend is hanging in there, but the years have made an impression on him that, I am sure, he does not relish. He has never been verbose, but as the days go by he uses fewer words to express his needs or responses to queries by others about his views. He still writes, and I am amazed at the similarity of style that I have picked up from him. For all anyone knows, I could be writing all that. Except, I am not that good. I assume that I could be in some years. I could use the practice at least. In a small way some thought nags me, saying, “It’s not the years, dummy, it’s the wisdom that he has.” Yeah, right. Wisdom comes with years for some. Maybe for me. We will see.

He was more morose than usual, probably attributed to a recent acknowledgment of his mortality. He had tried to do some work on his truck that required lifting it so that he could slither under it to access the transmission. He decided that lifting the truck was not within his immediate priorities given his other options. After he had related the event to me I laughed, and said, “I did that some years ago, but would not want to do it now. Get a tow truck and have the dealer fix it for you. You have more important and less dangerous things to do.”

His subsequent musing was recorded partly by him in text, partly by me from memory.
I must have been in my forties when I realized that there were things I could not do such as I had done before. Running through the elephant grass as I dodged the bullets sprayed at me by the VC [Viet-cong] I had the feeling of “I’ll get you bastards, as soon as I get back to my truck.” I did get back, I did get my 50 caliber gun pointed, and did return fire. If I had to do it today, I would not be here to write this. I am now many years later although not necessarily wiser. One thing I have learned is that time is getting distorted. Anything that I do takes more time, but there is less time to allocate to it, resulting in less and less opportunity to do anything that needs to be done.
I will give you an example. I had a sweetheart whom I courted for some years. I got nowhere with her as far as sexual intercourse was concerned. It was fun and a challenge, but not blatant. I had plenty of time. Then things got in the way. I was in the Army, I was in Vietnam, gone for three years. During that time she met someone, and then … you know.
I was young enough to start again. I did. I did well. Still, there were things I meant to do, but did not so, for I thought that I still had time to do later. It is now later. Much later, and I have not the time. Even if I had the time, I do not have the means. A moment of pleasure missed yesterday is hours missed later, assuming that I had the means to suffer that pleasure. The opportunities that I had and wasted are gone. They will not come again. The capabilities that I had have diminished to where only wishes remain. Regrets abound. I now must plan a graceful exit from this world.
I was unable to deal with his statement. I could sympathize with his position, but was fearful of my coming to be there in turn not too long from now. I did not know what to say. I have had my own regrets of lost opportunities, and guessed what he felt.

I have lost opportunities over the last three years that I cannot recover. I am getting to be the age where an opportunity lost is lost forever.

Am I morphing into my patriotic friend?

We are inseparable. If he leaves, will he take part of me with him?

When he leaves, will I?

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