In 1964, at age 23, Bob Dylan recorded “My Back Pages.” The song’s refrain caught my attention the first time I heard it!
“Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.”
I was never sure what it meant. But lately, it’s becoming clear.
Dylan wrote protest anthems that helped define the 1960s. But in typical Dylan style, he became disenchanted with the authority of his voice well before the protest movement got fully underway. In the lyrics to “My Back Pages,” Dylan criticizes himself for being confident that he knew everything, noting that he became his own enemy “in the instant that I preach.”
Dylan was old before his time!
There was a time in my life when I was sure about everything. I had college plans before high school and graduate school plans before college. I started planning for retirement shortly after I started work. The future was uncertain, but I had a plan.
“Ah, but I was so much older then….”
Looking back, I was often wrong, but never in doubt! I remember being sure I could manage entire company functions better than incumbent leaders, despite having never worked in them. Such confidence put me on a “fast track!”
Things have changed. The older we get, the more certain our future becomes. I’m no longer interested in plans. Instead, I’m taking more time to take life in. I’m noticing that the color of light changes with the seasons. Sunsets are prettier, and the air crisper. It all seems to be enough.
I’m becoming more like our two-year-old granddaughter. Her future has yet to cast its shadow.
Dylan was right, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now!”
Maybe that’s the secret. Be engaged and fully present. Let the future do what it will! Plans served me well, but they extracted a price. “I’m younger than that now!”
It can take an entire life to learn how to live. And to think, Dylan had it figured out by age 23!
I may have been a little slow on the uptake. But I’m finally catching up!
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