These are the good old days

“We can never know about the days to come, But we think about them anyway … So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.” 

Carly Simon, “Anticipation”

Carly Simon’s song about the difference between anticipation and reality comes to the wonderful conclusion that reality can be pretty darn good when you get right down to it.

These are the good old days: Now, you can take that at least two ways. 

One is to enjoy your life in the present moment, because one day you’ll want to remember these times as the good old days.

The other is the way Jack Nicholson’s character took it in a hilarious moment in the film As Good As It Gets, when he actually speaks the words in the title. An eternal pessimist, Nicholson stops in mid-complaint, looks around frantically, and says, “What if THIS is as good as it gets?!?!?”

This hopefully will come as no surprise, but I prefer the approach of savoring the moment.

I was a huge fan of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball team when legendary coach Dick Bennett was in charge. Bennett took over a program that had achieved so much success in the NCAA Division II that it switched to Division I, and it didn’t look like that had been such a good idea until after Dick took over.

After years of hard work, the team was hosting the league championship game and the winner was going to earn a berth in the NCAA Division I tournament. UWGB, the second-place team, rose to the occasion and played a perfect game against the more highly regarded Northern Illinois — I even remember the final score, 52-37. (Did I mention that Bennett was a defensive genius?)

As it became clear that the Fighting Phoenix were going to win, the old arena was as loud as I ever heard it — seven or eight minutes of basketball playing time of sheer volume.

One of Green Bay’s legendary journalists, Pat O’Donahue, had died suddenly of a heart attack that morning, stunning all of us. I don’t remember if Pat had once told me, “Savor every moment,” or if I had the thought independently (my mind wants to believe the former), but as I stood on my chair screaming with 6,000 other crazed fans, it occurred to me to drink the moment in and consciously remember, “This is as good as it gets. This is one of the good old days.” I will always remember that night.

While I was considering how to finish this, Summer the puppy put her two front paws on the easy chair next to my laptop and leaned in for a snuggle. I could have said, “Down, girl, I’m trying to wrap up a post about savoring the moment because these could be the good old days,” but fortunately, I was writing this post.

So I held her head close to mine and rubbed her ears, and then — once I realized the real reason for her affectionate advance — took her out for a pee. But there was the perfect illustration of my point. 

Life throws a lot of stuff our way, every day, some good, some not so much. Remember to appreciate the good stuff, because, well, what Carly sang.

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