Thursday, April 2, 2009

Both Sides Now

"I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

P1130626 copy

If you could go back in time, with the knowledge that you have now, would you change anything?

One of my favorite films is Peggy Sue Got Married. On the eve of a small town high school reunion, a woman experiencing marital difficulties is transported back in time to her high school days. It's an interesting look at the "what if" of experiencing a part of that awkward teenage period through more mature eyes. A monumental "do-over". Peggy Sue finds humor (her Dad buys an Edsel), regret (at having devalued her relationship with her younger sister), and gratitude (opportunity to reconnect with grandparents that had passed on). Most importantly, she rediscovers her first love for her husband. (There is also a running gag about her alliance with the geeky kid she ignored in high school. He is the only one in the her past who can imagine her being from the future, and benefits from information on the technology she has seen there.)


When I first viewed the movie, I was captivated by the idea of living in the same small town for your entire life, maintaining those teenage relationships through adulthood. That seems exotic to someone who grew up in a large metropolitan city. My relationships have changed, keeping pace with educational status(high school vs. college), marital status (single vs. married), and location (Texas, New York, Pennsylvania). Perhaps that's the reason family is so important, it's one of the two unifying elements in my life (the other being my faith, which my parents introduced me to).

"But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living ev'ry day


Change is part of life. I can't move on and stay in the same place. On the other side of fifty, gravity starts taking its toll on the body and information overload takes over the mind. There are some psychological losses to deal with. But there are some perks, too. History gives me perspective. Experience gives me humility. It is an incredible revelation to find a purpose in all the failures.

"I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all"

sunrise cloud

It's a very freeing thing to let go of the pretense of the illusion that I can understand and control my life, to relax into the cloud of uncertainty, the joy of living that life. The more I know, the more I know I don't understand. I find peace in still learning.

I've looked at my life from the arrogance of youth. I'm beginning to reflect upon it from the humility of experience.

I think the view is better from here.


*"Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell