Today is the genre of days that I treasure the most: a calm, sunny autumn Saturday with a cool breeze. I think this type of day is the most perfect of days. It is a day for apple picking, going to a college football game, or just sitting on the back porch, as I am doing right now. My wife and children are out of the house, and so I have this rare and treasured moment of solitude.
A day like this is so beautiful that it almost makes me cry because I know there aren't more of them in the year. Much more common are the gloomy, overcast winter Sundays where the walk needs to be shoveled, or the rainy Mondays or those dog days of summer where it gets too hot for our air conditioning to handle.
When I was younger I didn't think like this, of course. I would just got out and enjoy the day. I'd play touch football in the park with my friends or walk in the woods or get together with the gang and have some beers and watch the Huskers game. At age 43 I am suddenly much more aware of the passage of time, and that what I have left is limited. Maybe this is being prompted by my daughters entering the first grade and becoming these new beings completely removed from the babies and toddlers that they used to be. Or perhaps it's because after years of wandering from the age of 22 to 35 I've actually been settled down and not desperate for an extended period. Not so long ago I was the new guy at my job, now I am one of the veterans. Financially I spent years just trying to get by, and then trying to afford all the stuff our kids needed and to establish our new house. My newfound security has given me the time to breathe and the time to think, and that's been a blessing.
With all of those years of struggle over, it is suddenly hitting me in the face that my life is likely at least at the halfway point. If I was ever going to be a highly-regarded historian or recognized writer, that would have happened by now. It's finally time to let the last of those kinds of dreams die. My work as a historian and writer is merely a hobby, but at least it's a fulfilling one.
On this beautiful day, I am feeling okay with that. Age can bring bitterness and narrow-mindedness, but it can also bring wisdom if you take the time to discover it. I know now that anything I write won't last that long anyway. What will last is my marriage, my family, and my students. Every single day that I am with my children and every day I enter the classroom I am doing something vastly more meaningful than anything I else I could ever hope to accomplish.
Calm, sunny, September days like this are truly therapeutic. I hope when I go it's on a day like this so that I can leave this broken world behind remembering what a great place it can be sometimes. I don't know if there's a heaven, but a day like this is about as close as it gets.