Column: "One Layman's Outlook": Carpe diem ---- rejoice and be glad in it

Monday, March 8, 2004

by Larry Elkins(Editor's note: This column by Carroll County Newspapers Head Pressman Larry Elkins originally appeared in the Arkadelphia Daily Siftings Herald in 1998. Elkins is now 43 years old.)

On a recent trip home to visit my father, I came face to face with myself.

To start with, I'm 38, the same age Daddy was when I was born. I guess that makes me old enough to be my own father. During one of Daddy's frequent naps my brother Scott, my nephew Leo and I sat in the kitchen talking. I couldn't believe the conversation: acid reflux, milk versus antacid, taxes, earned income credit, arthritic knees and gray hair. To my amazement, I could discuss the subjects through my own experiences.

I looked at these two kids that I had grown up with. Wow! Scott is 40 now and Leo is 33. I felt my youth had been violated. These were the guys with whom I used to chase down rabbits and swing across the creek on a muscadine vine. They are getting older.

I looked closer and sure enough, they have both gone past crow's feet and there are more than a few gray hairs in Leo's two-foot ponytail. I'm past calling my gray hair "sun highlights," but I'm still not ready for the ear hair and phlegm conversations yet. I'm still embarrassed about having them. I'm certainly not ready for open discussion of it.

I know I have to find my own way of coming to grips with my rapidly approaching mid-life crisis. Hopefully, mine will be less drastic than Scott's new wife and baby girl. It's got to be less stupid than Leo's afore-mentioned ponytail. It should be something more useful to society, like buying a chemistry set and finding a cure for AIDS, or maybe just taking up painting. Yeah, I could paint the "happy" clouds, maybe even get my own show on PBS.

Let's hope I can hold off long enough for the Wal-Mart Supercenter to open. I'm sure they will have some kind of hair dye and motorcycle combo deal.

However I handle it, I think I'm starting to understand that mortality is also a gift from God. Life is more precious to you when you realize you have a limited supply. The idea is not to constantly think about death, but to constantly think about life. The ability to enjoy every day ---- good ones and bad ones ---- that's a wonderful gift.

The Bible says, "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." I understand it. Carpe diem ---- seize the day. It all makes sense now that I'm, older. Like my father used to say, "Boy, get a haircut."

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