Mandan News

Brian L. Gray: Lessons I’ve learned along the way

Some days I swear I can’t keep up with what’s going on these days. It’s odd, because I don’t know when this began. What a frightening feeling. I have no idea when I started losing keeping track, and THAT’S how much I’m behind these days.

I don’t know. Something weird’s going down, and I can’t quite pinpoint it. Days pass by quickly, but I don’t feel I’m getting any older. And that frightens me. It’s like a calm before the storm – I know that one day my knees and back will go bad, and I’ll want these frantically passing days to return, and I’ll regret not taking advantage of it as much as I should have. I don’t want to let too many quickly passing days slip by, and before I know it I realized I’ve missed days that I know matter.

So I’ve been reclaiming the now. I’m trying to do something with every moment – I’m writing plays, reading, playing and writing music, drawing, doing photography, working on a children’s book, I’ve even started an idea for a comic strip. I’m keeping busy, and trying to keep that going. And if I ever run out of ideas I eagerly search for more to take over me.

The problem here is that I’ve noticed when I embrace the present, I don’t feel like I’m learning that many new things anymore. It’s an odd thing to describe. I think back when I was a child, I learned things of major importance that made sense – they were clear and easy to understand. I don’t get those pieces of wisdom anymore. The majority of my thoughts usually consist of random personal realizations, like “Hey, I really don’t mind the smell of a skunk,” or “I guess I shouldn’t touch coffee grounds when my hands are wet.”

I don’t even think about things in terms of right or wrong anymore; rather, I think about them in terms of if it works for me or whether it works for someone else. Is that wrong?

I’m convinced it’s true that everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten. These days we simply learn variations of the very foundation that was already pounded into us in our early days – if we actually paid attention. Life’s details can no longer be as easily interpreted as black and white, good or bad. Life now is a complex shade of gray with a vague myriad of subtle nuances.

But I can’t prove that, of course. That’s just something my kindergarten teacher told me.

Childhood lessons were clear as day. For instance, when I lied on my back to test how much pressure a garage door opener needed before it finally reversed its course, I learned that it does indeed take A LOT of pressure. But it does finally reverse before it kills you.

These days, all I know is that days pass way quickly and yet I feel the same. This, I believe, encapsulates the thirties.

Things go by quick.

So I need to take the time to slow down, appreciate the more subtle lessons out there, and train my eye to better spot them. Because the hard stuff, for the most part, is already learned at this point.

I admit, this column has been confusing. It’s indicative of the life I live these days. So I won’t take it personally if you’ve already moved on to something else and not reached this point in the column. And if you have, I’ve just wasted space in writing this, because you aren’t even here anymore. Maybe I’ll get you next time. Again, another useless sentence.

Maybe I just worry too much. The only therapy, I’ve learned, is to simply open my eyes and appreciate the now.

And that’s what I want to do. I want to stop writing this column right now. And I want you to stop reading too, and get out there and appreciate yourself and the world around you. So go, enjoy the moment. Stop reading my column. I have nothing more to say.

Seriously. I have nothing more for you. Go and do something. Enjoy your life. It’s passing you by. I have no more insights to offer, no more silly jokes to throw your way. I have nothing more for this column. Leave. I’m done.


Really. I’m stopping right now. It’s time to quit reading. Come on, I can’t keep writing this if you’re going to keep reading it. This is honestly getting ridiculous. You have a life to live. A world out there to explore. There’s much to see and experience, and I have nothing more here for you.

Okay, fine. You want one more thing? Okay, here you go.

Oh, shoot. NOW I’m out of space.