Like the many millions that have come before you, and like the still many millions around you, you may find yourself facing both a troubled past and an uncertain future. Initially and unavoidably, both your past and your future need to be faced concurrently. In so doing, you may then successfully devise a mindset such that can foster your release from a debilitating past and your release into a functional future. This is the required work of growing up and becoming a mature and responsible adult. Along the way, you’ll likely find kind fellowship and aid, particularly if you’re earnest and tenacious.
People the world over spend countless hours, days, and even lifetimes lamenting the shortcomings inherent in a less-than-ideal childhood. As result, many people have resentments which smolder and burn, turning them into complexes more harmful and difficult to overcome than any of the original affronts. No doubt, irresponsible parents and teachers who neglected to truly guide and mentor their respective children or students have caused countless legions of young adults to falter and fail, often tragically, well before commencement into adult life. As unjust and despairing as this can be, eventually, one must take stock of one’s life and carry on.
The wise thing to do is to look back with a measure of both detachment and compassion, and then, with resolution, determine to make peace so that you may move on with living. Cultivating a forgiving disposition is paramount. This is easier said than done, but none the less, it’s the necessary work on the road to becoming a wise, compassionate, and capable person. Otherwise, one’s life will continue to be consumed by resentment, anger, addictions, and all the consequential circumstances born of such a life so lived.
I’ll be 53 years of age soon. I’ve become an older adult. Recently, AARP has sent me an invitation to join their ranks of older persons. I have, of late, become impressed with my maturity. Not just the number of years I’ve lived, but impressed by the way I conduct myself. In the best sense of the word, I’ve become mature. I’ve become a responsible adult with a good measure of wisdom by which to guide my behavior and decision making. I continue to have my foibles and shortcomings, but they rarely mar my hours or disturb my relations with others. I’ve overcome my own less than perfect childhood, my reckless youth, and some significant health issues that could have easily caused my entire life to have been fraught with anxiety and depression. Time and steady effort eventually delivered to me the rewarding balm that is serenity.
After a long look back on all that has contributed to the composition that is me, I’ve, at last, won a truly grateful disposition. All has been forgiven, or at least understood, to the best of my ability. Parents, teachers, siblings, peers, circumstances, and all misfortunes have been duly considered and I have long since chosen to take my life fully into my own hands. I have chosen to do the only practical thing there is left to do once I accepted self responsibility. Better late than never, I have chosen to grow up. I did not grow up at once, nor have I yet to completely grow up. Rather, it is my task to continually grow into the best possible person I can be. This is a daily endeavor which will remain my charge until I cease living.
Meeting and grappling with what life throws my way has become a mostly cheerful effort. I routinely realize the reward of an orderly life by way of prompt attention to even the smallest of responsibilities. I have a substantial fund of confidence which has become mine by way of facing the realities of my life, good, bad, or otherwise. I’ve developed a foundation that is sound enough for me to be near certain that I’ll have the capacity to deal with whatever may come my way. I can rely on myself. This is no small comfort.
My “duty first” attitude, and the order that it has spawned, has rendered me an enormous reserve of time and energy to pursue life’s many pleasures. So, in addition to being a responsible adult, I also count myself an avid golfer, tennis player, photographer, cyclist, angler, hiker, writer, and lover of literature. I also count myself as a loving son and brother, a loyal friend to many, and I’m also a reasonably competent and caring nurse. In all, I’m a very happy and grateful recovering wreck.
I was once swamped on many fronts. I was the child of an abusive and alcoholic father. I was a terrible, truant, and delinquent high school student. I went on to conduct a reckless and hard-drinking life as a young adult. Having survived it all and having come to a place where I’m very pleased with my capacities as a compassionate person, I can no longer honestly say that I’d change any of my past. All the people, places, things, events, all the joys, all the misfortunes, all have combined into the making of what is now me and my life. This totality and all that has been overcome is how I’ve come to be a capable and happy new member of AARP. Perhaps the end justifies the means. No matter, the present is comfortably upon me.
So now and henceforth, if I may be so bold, I suggest that you take stock and embrace your responsibilities. We all, if we are lucky, must grow up sometime. Knowing what I do now, I feel safe in saying, sooner is better than later, as time is the essence of life. Soon, you’ll preside over a second childhood of sorts where you will be the sole parent, guide, and mentor to yourself. Be kind, patient, and understanding. It’s your turn to get it right with essentially only yourself being truly accountable. Let love and compassion be your trusted guide. Embrace your duties and your pleasures will eventually prove ample. So says this recovered wreck. If I can do it, so can you. Does anyone care for a game of tennis?
BIO: Paul McWilliams is a retired RN living in central Florida. He spent twenty years working as a psychiatric and substance abuse nurse. Prior to the virus, he had been a member of a writer's group that met twice a month. His life presently is very stable and he’s now ready to commit significant time to reading and writing. He also enjoys walking, cycling, and golf. His great ambition as a writer is to recreate, in fiction, the summer beach community he knew as a child through young adulthood.