Thursday, August 21, 2008

The dulling of age

In writing and rewriting my recent Traci-related posts, I'm reminded how life dulls with age. It loses vibrancy, desire, color, depth, excitement, energy and passion. Time passes faster with more monotony. Certainly, the failed and unrequited loves of my youth stand out for their emotional intensity. I haven't even had a crush on a girl since Traci, and it's reaching the point I don't know if I ever will again.

I can understand why nostalgia is such a reliable industry. It's not the world that was brighter and better back then; it's just us - we burned brighter and better back then. (On a related note, can you believe 1994 is long enough ago to qualify now as a bygone-era period setting for a movie?)

I associate the highlights of my life with the Army, and while the Army was a wealth of extraordinary experiences, I believe the association is as much due to the age I was a soldier. Even my life before the Army, as mundanely as it was misspent, feels richer in my memory than anything since I returned home.

I found my equilibrium in the Army and others thought I performed reasonably well, but soldiering was not easy nor natural for me. It was more like math, laboriously learned with just enough understanding to get by and then requiring constant maintenance in order to stop it leaking from my mind. There are other reasons to serve right now, mostly current events in combination with my ideals, but I wonder if part of why I've considered a return to the uniform is an unrealistic desire to recapture the relative intensity and clarity of my youth.

I'm no longer the young man, though, who was passionate and naive enough to think becoming a soldier would impress Judy. Can my youth be found in a return to the setting of my youth? I wonder, what would the Army during war-time be like for a 30-something who wasn't so good at soldiering as a 20-something during peace-time?

Eric

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