21 May Arrows of Youth – I’m Grateful For This Time to Reflect
EVERY DAY HOLDS UNFORSEEN MOMENTS OF THOUGHT, brought about like a drop of rain from a clear blue sky. The fullness of life has been condensed to the bounds of our homes.
Suddenly, when folding a shirt, doing the dishes, or opening a book that has sat on the shelf for years collecting dust — a reflection comes to mind.
I delve into conversation with my mom and brother at the dinner table.
Without the restrictions of the day, we’re happy to simply be. We discuss how we’re really doing; it’s another night in the flowing stream of reality.
We’re learning about one another and turning a page. Time — the minutes and seconds which usually fall through our hands like water — has seemed to unravel.
Life at this very moment is about family. We ask questions of the universe independent of one another, but we’re learning about who we are together.
That’s the wonder of it all — this journey never ends until we take our last breath. In twenty years, I’ll look at pictures of this memorable season and wonder where the time has gone.
Every second from the picture until that day will have coalesced to shape my perception of tomorrow. Who am I, but the collective moments of yesterday?
We are not only our physical body: our laugh, our smile, the look of our eye, or the way we walk. We are our thoughts, our emotions, our dreams; we are our past that only we have the power to recollect.
These memories are like arrows on our backs to draw upon in the heat of life’s battle. They will always be with us — today is one of those memories.
I’m incredibly lucky to see my mom and dad every day. We’re living our separate lives, yet experiencing the same reality of a new world. I wonder if this ever ends — the questions, the growth, the re-making of mistakes.
Our future builds upon the decisions we make today, which may mean nothing more than letting go of yesterday.
For the age of youth, there’s a longing to find purpose and direction. Our present reality remains in flux, and what was essential to a past generation may not still hold relevance.
Still, I feel this is a question that has been asked since the beginning of time: where do I fit into my modern world?
When I see my parents, I see them for who they are right now. They were once in their season of youth as I am, wondering where my trajectory may lead. We’re no different than we once were, although we see the world with an attuned clarity.
Getting older doesn’t mean that our journey of discovery ends, and we finally have the room to stop and savor the fresh air. The breath has always been there to take. Growing up means learning how to breathe, no matter what stands before us.
I look back at who I was a few years ago, and it seems like two distinct people separated by a space that I only know through memories. I’m the same person crafted from those days of joy, creating new memories each day to climb towards — a brilliant new light.
My brother Duke is here with me. If I want to realize how much I’ve changed, it only takes looking at my relationship with my brother.
My brother and I had each other to count on growing up, but we fought nonstop, as brothers do. Brawls to the death on our house’s marble floor until my mom had to run outside and yell into the empty streets, “somebody help! Police!” That broke us up pretty quickly.
A day later, we were friends, although the chance of another imitation-cop-inducing skirmish lingered. Being two and a half years apart created some healthy competition. I believe it was a good thing. Since then, it’s safe to say we’ve both mellowed out.
My mom used to tell us, have siblings when you’re parents, so your kids will have each other as friends.
I did always have a friend. When he “ran away from home,” which meant hiding out in the bushes for about four hours down the street, I was scared and ran to my mom’s room in a panic.
We had to do something! I was more worried than she was. “He’ll be alright, let him be alone for a while,” she said.
If she panicked and went out searching for him, my brother would have won. My mom wasn’t buying in. He’d be back when he realized it didn’t affect her. Of course, it did. My mom was strong and didn’t show her worry, at least not to me.
That’s parenting, isn’t it? To try and keep the peace, to somehow bring light and love into your child’s life, and hopefully, you’ve done enough to keep them out of trouble? This lesson was one of my most significant realizations: nobody has anything figured out, not even our parents.
Our upbringing was the pursuit of harmony in trying to figure out what the hell was going on. That’s what made it fun — that’s what made it my childhood.
In reality, parents can guide; however, each kid is on their own. Parents can try to give their child the best circumstances possible, but kids see with their own eyes. That perception guides us along the rest of our journey.
What we can do right now is appreciate our families, and do our part to reciprocate the love. Everybody is trying their best.
I remember when my brother changed. He came home one weekend and was a different person. Or was I?
The anger seemed to disappear. We didn’t just tolerate each other anymore — we were close.
Last summer Duke and I went on a trip to see some of his buddies in London. First, we decided to visit Paris.
We were staying in Montmartre, a beautiful suburb of Paris in the northern part of the city. We arrived at around 2:30 pm and went out in search of a restaurant.
This was the first trip the two of us had ever taken, just us. It was the beginning of a test — how tolerant could we be of one another to keep the peace?
We slowly walked the backstreets of the medieval district. The dry summer sun filled the afternoon streets with a luminous glow. There were no spacious bistros or vast boulevards on this side of the hill. It was just us two, taking in the stillness of the neighborhood.
We found a restaurant in a small courtyard with flowers hanging from a signpost in the middle as if the scene of a Cézanne oil painting. A shadow concealed the restaurant and made it wonderfully appealing, a refuge for travelers of a bygone age.
I poked my head to look inside and asked if they were serving lunch. The restaurant was rustic and dark to keep it welcoming from the summer heat.
There were wine barrels and glass bottles against one wall, a small, exposed kitchen where everything was wooden and copper, and a few tables and stools set up in the middle of the room.
We decided to sit outside in the shade and watch the courtyard come alive. We had a fresh garden salad, a basket of bread, and a plate of mozzarella cheese, drowned in olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It was exactly what we needed.
People sauntered through as if with nowhere to be. They came and went as we drained a few glasses of wine.
I’m grateful for this moment — the courtyard froze in time and occupies a place in my heart.
As brothers, we’re experiencing this world on the same plane, developing our perspectives based on our individual experiences. To have a sibling is to have somebody in your corner, no matter what. Nobody chooses their family. We decide how to be family.
This moment we’re living through is another arrow to craft and cherish, to carry with me through the trials of life — my arrows of youth — for with these memories, no enemy is too great.
Originally published on Medium.com