The Evolution of Eric

“No offense dad but it seems like life has beaten you down lately. Don’t worry, I’m going to make better decisions so that doesn’t happen to me.” my son said in his infinite wisdom. 
“Good luck with that,” I decided it simpler not to debate the merits or ease of the life he had planned, time will take its course. 
Maybe it’s just me feeling my age but lately it seems I am surrounded by past versions of myself. Take my son for instance. He is 18 and on the verge of entering “the real world”. We’ll call his group Homo-Erectus. 
It’s a little fuzzy but I seem to remember that from his vantage point the world laid out before me and it was easy to see the pitfalls that have entrapped my parents…. make that all adults. Sure there is some anxiety about what’s next but that’s OK, you’re just cruising along so it’s easy enough to put on the brakes or make a quick turn when needed. It stings a little when he notes that I look like life is winning the battle but I was that age once so I know where he is coming from. In his mind life is like Mike Tyson and it’s just a one round fight. If you can dance a bit and avoid the knockout punch the round ends and life gets easier. What he doesn’t realize is that life is more like that “Whack a Mole” game. You stick your head out again and again and from time to time life whacks you. I don’t tell him though because that is one of life’s little gems that it is best learned as you go. Soon he will graduate high school which brings me to the next group. 
Each spring this little Ville swells with new and returning students. It is almost like I am taken back to those days decades ago. In fact if you happen by some of the bars downtown there are guys my age actually trying to relive those glory days. Generally I don’t give much thought to the ebb and flow of the students because other than a few more beer cans in the yard and traffic in the streets they’re easily tuned out. That is except for when I walk my dog. I have developed “safe routes” to avoid the high college traffic areas but that doesn’t spare me the occasional, “Whoa look at that guy!” being cast from a passing car or “Is that a man bun?!” and at least a couple times, “Look out Troll!” We’ll call this group Homo-Magnifico. In your late teens early twenties you are just about as close to perfect as you will ever get, at least physically. Your engine is finely tuned and runs great on whatever fuel you give it. Even a diet of beer and pizza doesn’t make it knock. You have just escaped the entrapment of your parent’s penitentiary and life is your playground. You also have little foresight and that is why I don’t take offense, I know what is in store for them. Soon they will have a wife and maybe, if their lucky, a couple kids. And that brings me to the not so newlyweds. 
This group still has energy. The kids have just started tee ball, ballet, football, tap, soccer, origami…. but it hasn’t become cumbersome yet. They still enjoy the challenge of getting the yard mowed early Saturday so they can have the remainder of their day to relish their kid’s activities. They make a point to insert “couple” time into their schedule, “You know, Jen and I are taking a couples dance class on Thursday nights, sure it means we have to get a sitter but we’re worth it.” I think we’ll call them Homo-Optimus. They are just beginning to feel the claws of the life they have created. When you talk to them it is almost like they are convincing themselves they are still in control when actually they are south bound on the interstate of life getting ready to enter a snow storm with white out conditions. The next 10-20 years will be painfully busy but equally as rewarding. 
That brings us to me. A little worse for the wear but happily chuckling at the other side of that white knuckle ride. There is a bit of road in front of me, at least I hope but enough behind me to realize it’s important to enjoy the sunny days and slow down during the stormy ones. We’ll call my group Homo-Contentus. We have the bumps and bruises that come with living but also the knowledge of just how blessed we are to have made it this far in one piece. Life is as hectic as ever but we keep in mind that it is not that important to keep up with the rat race since we all end up finishing the same way. 
Now I am sure there are some of you reading this that are much more lived and wise than myself. You have had decades more experience and know the roads of life without a ma…. GPS. Unlike the teen version of myself I’d love to hear about the traps that litter the remainder of my journey. If you see me out and have some pointers by all means stop me… just look for the balding guy with the beard who appears just a little beaten down.


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