Tthis is the time of year everyone seems to slow down. For the past few months all we’ve thought about was preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner and getting out to the shopping areas in order to show how much you love someone by how much you spend on him or her.

However, the Christmas rush is over, the New Years Eve celebration is planned, and all you have left to do is figure out where you are heading into the future before it happens. The weather co-operated this year by laying down a thick white blanket of snow. This, of course, amplified the Christmas spirit but it also displayed a kind of clean slate that waits for all of us after the festivities of the New Year.

This slate will always have the dust of the past but it does represent is time when you can erase it in your mind and blotch out its reality in order to rewrite over it. I have a favorite saying that fits perfectly during this time of reflection. I am in no way taking credit for it and also have no concept as to where I picked it up. But, it fits and it always goes to the front of my mind during this time of year. The saying starts out by stating the past is history. This seems like a simplistic statement but it becomes relevant when you look back and regret some of things you did in the past.

Tthis year was a tough year for regrets. I am aggravated with the fact I did not tell my wife the truth all the time. Now I am not saying I did anything appalling or horrific but sometimes little things have a tendency to become big things if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing. I regret certain comments I made to my colleagues, friends, and students. I didn’t make these remarks maliciously but after they left my mouth it was obvious they never traveled through my mind. I now wonder if I made these comments because I felt the need to feel empowered.

Thinking back at those times I now realize I did not empower myself but rather weakened who I was trying to be. Looking down at my forever growing gut I know of another regret. Last year at about this same time I promised myself I would go on an exercise regiment. I did well for the first few months but found more excuses during the year as to why I would miss a certain day on the treadmill or why I wouldn’t do quite so many sit ups in the morning. All this did was erode what I was trying to do in the first place that was live a bit longer and hopefully a bit better.

I am writing this essay during one of my favorite days. In fact, this is the second of those days my colleagues and students call a snow day. I love these surprise mini-vacations even though I clearly understand my summer will begin a bit later in order to make up for them. When I knew I would be home I promised myself I would exercise as soon as I finished my morning coffee. I am now digesting my lunch and the concept of exercising, even though still there, is becoming more and more of a myth.

Tthe past has a tendency to ooze its way into our present. Other then these few transgressions I think I lived a good life during the now ending year. I wish I wrote better and read more. I wish I could have answered more of my student’s questions about today’s technology and where it is taking us. I wish I had fought harder defending political and social values I know are right. I wish I had more courage to do so. But, these are all things we will put as part of our New Year’s Resolutions.

I assume I should be happy I have been given a chance to have them. I wonder if I am the only one who thinks about the concept of growing old. The more pasts you have the older you feel. Hell, the older you are. Does anyone ever remember growing old? You live your life and you get busy to the point you forget time is passing you by. Then all of a sudden something happens forcing you to slow down and think about the days of your life when you were too busy to pay attention. In other words, the present becomes the past before you give yourself time to enjoy it.

I had this happen to me a couple of Saturdays ago. Steve, my daughter’s boyfriend asked to meet me at a local pub. Since I was busy with my work I told him sure, set up a time, and continued to do what I thought was important. Thinking back at that moment I remember being upset because he dared to bother me doing something I thought was important and since forgot what it was. A few hours later we met at the bar, I bought a round of beers, and he stopped me in my tracks by asking if he could marry my daughter.

Iiwould have appreciated a little more small talk concerning the next Patriots game or even how the stock market was doing. But he did me a favor by making sure I knew why we were there. Everything in my foolish little world stopped. I was flooded by memories that literally brought tears to my eyes. I think I scared the hell out of Steve because I did not answer right away. I looked through him and attempted to stare back into times I missed or simply forgot about. I told him I didn’t remember growing old. This, of course, scared him even more. Hell, it scared me even more.

A few days later, which in reality was only seconds, I gained my composure, shook his hand, asked if I had to buy him a goat, and continued my day. So, here I sit in my office enjoying what I consider one of my favorite days. I look out my window and watch snow and ice mix in the air only to fall to the ground in what looks like an ocean of white gelatin. No one is walking around because the winds are blowing and the dampness in the air is more competition than any heating system can conquer.

One of my favorite sayings continues its concept that the past is history by reminding all who dare to think that the future is a mystery. Thinking back to where I was a year before I realize I had total control over what my future would be. Of course now that my future evolved into my past I wonder how much control I really had. I should write down what I think I’ll be doing a year from now but that seems dangerous because if I wrote it down I would be forced to view my own failings in trying to do what I thought I had to do.

Ssure I would love to be selling my new book, have my students become successes in all they dream they will grow up to do, have my daughter and her new husband begin their lives surrounded by success, have my wife continue to become more beautiful than I thought anything could be, and maybe even find a way to grow more hair on my head.

Before I concentrate on the mystery of my future I remember the last part of my favorite saying. In its entirety it states, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, and there is a reason they call today a present.” After I send this to my editor and friend who now has a future filled with new writings only a man like Paul Mann could boast I think I’ll call my daughter and talk about that present.

The End.
Enjoy the present before your future is behind you.
By J. G. Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at:

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