Posted by: Terry | August 16, 2015

The Dark Years: Breath in, Breath out, Move on

They are the dark years. As if passing through some Tolkienesque forest, lightless except for the rare rays of sunlight that penetrate the dense canopy of ancient trees, these days and years have been compassionately pushed deep into the darkness of my mind, accessible only by unpleasant effort.

Life is a series of chapters within books, and the chapter we are living in at the moment is the most real. There have been three books in my life so far. The first was from birth to 20 years old, then from 20 through 37, and now.

My memories of childhood and adolescence, Book I, are a kaleidoscope of bright and dark memories, many of which are blurred and out of focus. My guess is that this is normal, and it only gets more pronounced with the distance of age.

Now – from the age of 37 to just 2 days shy of 65, Book III. These are best described in the words of a Neil Diamond song,

“The story of my life

Is very plain to read

It starts the day you came

It ends the day you leave”

The ”you” in my story is Tricia. She has defined so much of what has made these years, to quote Neil again, “The Best Years of Our (my) Life.” We have had a wonderful, rocky, funny, trying, enjoyable, adventurous, curios, drive-each-other-nuts, can’t-think-of-anyplace-I-would-rather-be relationship. And as I enter my life beyond 65 years I know it will only get better.

Book II, years 20 through 36, they are the dark years. Except for a few bright spots they are not part of my daily context of life; confusion and misdirected wandering are my memories of them. The brightest rays of light were my two sons, Aaron and Adam, and the times we spent on Saturday adventures. Most all the rest I am content to relegate to the dark forest, entering that forest in my memory grays my days today so I avoid that journey.

So what do we do with those dark years? Regret, guilt, and remorse come to mind, and I have done all three. “Why did I …?” questions will drive you nuts, I know as I have badgered myself with them. The need for absolution for poor choices and actions produce nothing but despair. Repentance may be needed, but there is no amount of penitence that can change the past, so remorse is a waste of time and emotion.

The optimist in me, and my faith in God, says that those years helped make me what I am today, and that there were valuable lessons learned; probably true. But the realist in me says that I am still hindered by those years, thus the need to put them away in a dark place.

When you read biographies of those whom you admire, when you read the accounts of Biblical role models, when you hear the advice of the wise, and read the admonitions from Scripture there is a resounding emphasis on keeping your focus on the future.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given came from a retired pastor some years ago. “All God requires is that you get up each day and do what you know you should do that day.”

The dark years are gone, and that is as it should be. The right attitude toward the past is given to us by the wisdom of Jimmy Buffet.

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man

Floating down canal

It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands

It always just says now

Now you may be thinking that I was had

But this watch is never wrong

And If I have trouble the warranty said

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

According to my watch the time is now

Past is dead and gone

Don’t try to shake it just nod your head

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On



  1. This is such a thoughtful post. And your list of the characteristics of marriage is perfect!

  2. Marriage is never Disneyland, hopefully the overall works well though.

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