David and Goliath
Checking Wikipedia I found that Goliath is variously referenced as being between 6 feet 9 inches and 9 feet 9 inches. I’ll skip showing the math and just tell you that assuming Goliath was a physically fit warrior with powerful proportions, he accordingly likely weighed between 300 and 700 pounds. Probably the NFL, NBA, and pro wrestling circuit would have gleefully given him a tryout. Either way he was a big guy. I couldn’t find any reference to David’s size other than that he was young and probably not overly tall or heavy.
My Role As Goliath
OK, that’s the classic “David and Goliath” from biblical history, but what about the REAL Goliath’s we deal with on a daily basis? This is the situation I found myself in this week. The only thing different is that I was cast in the “Goliath” role going up against a “David” weighing at most 100 pounds and standing not much over five foot tall in her red soled Louboutin’s. The result was the same as in the Bible. Goliath (me) never stood a snowball’s chance in the middle of the sun and got emotionally obliterated.
Her Role As David
The young lady, (and she is a lady and she is younger than me – by twenty minutes – but far be it for me to suggest that we are even remotely in the same generation,) stumbled upon my piano and synthesizer music website. Then she tracked me down somehow. The internet works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it? She picked up the phone and gave me a call out of the blue. When the phone rang, I almost didn’t answer it because I didn’t recognize the Seattle number. I figured it was a telemarketer, (I should have been so lucky,) but for some reason known but to God, I picked up the call.
I haven’t heard the voice since the college days, but the tone and words were unmistakable. No “Hello” or any other opening pleasantries but her first words were, “Well – I see you’re still trying to show off.”
And there I was, listening to Dan Fogelberg singing Same Old Lang Syne in the background of my mind as my old friend/lover/could have been spouse, and I caught up on all those years – all the years we might have spent together – and all those years we were apart – both of us living out our own personal Old Lang Syne’s.
Depression In Older Men
And on that note, we come to the real David and Goliath situations that many of us will face as we keep piling on the years. It’s a dangerous situation – one that I’ve seen bring a lot of people down – and one that we’ve got to fight to avoid “old guy depression.”
Mourning A Wrong Decision
It’s not just the “would have – should have – could have” moments when you encounter an old lover, but ALL those would/should/could decisions in your life that seem to drift back to the surface in the quiet moments of retirement. It’s far too easy to dwell on those turning points and wonder what would have happened if we’d taken a different path, how our lives might have been radically different, and dangerously, to fall into depression from lamenting the “wrong” decisions we’ve made.
Just as deadly to your retirement mental health is focusing on the things you’ll never do and the ones you’ll never do again. In some cases, it’s because you physically can’t do it anymore. You won’t find me lining up for another marathon run. You won’t find me climbing at 14,000 feet. You won’t even find me much on the golf course with my left knee needing an ice pack after nine holes.
Depression Lurks In The Shadows
But even more insidious is all the dreams we’ve left behind – dreams that can never come true because we feel we’ve run out of time. The dreams that haunt you in the quiet as you futilely struggle to fall asleep. The Goliath of depression is lurking in the shadows for all of us and it can be the true 800 pound gorilla if we let it take control of our lives.
This is even more important these days as many of us find ourselves isolated alone while staying out of the COVID-19 line of fire. I’ve been essentially in solitary confinement since March and that leaves far too much time to dwell on the past.
So what do we do? We’re not gonna get any younger. We can’t go back to take a different path. We can’t bring back the things that are faded into history.
Should we sit and mope, lost in our memories, feeling sorry for ourselves, with nothing left of our lives but an obituary?
New Memories, People And Dreams
Get off your duff and do something! Make new memories, go new places, meet new people, try new things, build new dreams. Sure, the world is different than it was “way back when,” but that doesn’t mean that it’s still not a fun and rewarding place to be if you’ll just get out and be part of it. The virus won’t last forever, and even while it rampages there are still ways to spend your time productively and protect your mental health.
Looking For Someone Special
Ann and I didn’t make it – we went our different ways. She wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last “could have been’s.” But guys, last time I checked there were over 7 billion people on this planet and half of them are women. Go meet some of them. Some of them are in the same boat as we are – looking for someone to be part of their lives.
This isn’t a time to put yourself on the shelf. It can be a magical part of your life because you’ve finally got the time to pursue new ventures. You’re not tied to a job anymore. Your kids are grown and on their own. You, for once, are in control of how you spend your time. Use it wisely – use it productively. Stay active, stay actively living, and beat the hell out of the Goliath of depression.
To borrow the words of one of our foremost American philosophers:
“Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me,
And I know that I just can’t go wrong.”
God bless the wisdom of Jimmy Buffett.