The Armstrong Family Circus

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Maineville • Ohio • USA

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39 Steps Closer Towards The Gates Of Heaven

Wednesday June 1st 2011

by Paul Armstrong

This is Italy but not Italy. Real but unreal.


I have a tradition of reflecting upon another year of living with an (now) antiquated "blog" post that's part humor (in my mind), rememberance and heart-felt emotion. The older I get the easier it is to get lost in the could-haves, and memories — so that I don't forget who I am and who I still want to be.


I'm not sure I ever thought about what it would be like to be thirty nine years old when I was nine. It might have involved flying cars, or at the very least being driven around in some futuristic bubble car that made me money. I had no concept of adulthood. The burdens of owning things and paying for things and fixing things and wanting things and knowing things. The responsibility of earning money to pay for things, things that provide food and shelter for a wife and three kids. The trial of learning when to do with and do without, or saying yes and saying no, of admitting how completely lost you really are after thirty nine years. Nine doesn't seem so bad now.


Some people might fantasize about going back in time and telling their younger self's (with the voice of Morgan Freeman) to appreciate their time, enjoy every moment; but I know I would never listen, never grasp any of that at nine — nor should I. I scarcely know what it means to enjoy every moment now, "to take it all in". 


And maybe that's what it means to get older. It means understanding that 82% of the problems in your life are caused (directly or indirectly) by you. Sure aging means medications and doctor's appointments, learning with every stretch, yawn and blink of your crumbling body, expanding stomachs and over-ripened skin. It means complaining being tired and fat and old and kids and drivers and politics and religion and entertainment and your neighbors and the impending gypsy/ killer bee/ Lyme disease/ SARS/ environmental disasters that will destroy this world. It means begrudgingly living with the image you've managed to cultivate for yourself, however true or untrue it is. It means never settling into who you think you, or who other's think you are.  It means having perspective. That reflection and reminiscence aren't fanciful daydreams but history lessons. That wisdom isn't gained but earned.  It means knowing the things you don't know far outweigh the things you do. 


I'm thirty nine, and I'm still growing up.







Comments for "39 Steps Closer Towards The Gates Of Heaven"


Though it is slightly busier and more crazy, I'm learning that getting older doesn't have to automatically suck. Keeping perspective and maintaining priorities in life seems to help on most days.

This is a great post. I had a really random thought this past weekend while cutting the grass that I think is relevant to this post.

I'm sometimes jealous of how relaxed I was as a child despite the fact that my family was severely dysfunctional and insecure. My adult life has actually been far more secure yet the responsibility of it keeps me at least a little stressed everyday. But despite all of the stress and worry I wouldn't trade any of my experiences or memories to go back and be nine again. I didn't have many memories to reflect on as a 9 year old. But I do now and I'm thankful for every one of them.

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