You know what? I just decided the other day that I really hate the phrase “Back in the day”.
On a recent night out with old school friends we started, as we often do, reminiscing about the past. One of my closer friends that I’ve known for close to 3 decades started entertaining us with stories about the various shenanigans we used to get up to. He kept on starting each story the same way, using the phrase “Back in the day”…
I’m sure you know the line and may have used it yourself… “Back in the day when we used to <fill in the blank with something you used to do when you were young> etc”.
I don’t know about you but every time I hear someone use that line I get a sudden jolt of anxiety. I know for many it’s just a turn of phrase but the thought that instantly goes through my mind is
“Today is the day! Not some time 15 years ago!”
Whenever I hear one of my friends use the phrase ‘back in the day’ I always feel that the silent implication is that our best years are behind us. That just because we are rapidly heading towards 40, some of us are going bald, some are going grey and some are going bald and grey that we no longer have the ability to be as engaged and connected with life as we used to.
I hate this implication. I also find it to be mostly untrue. So many things in life get better with age. As we gain life experience and our mind develops over time we open up the potential to appreciate layers of pleasure and meaning that we simply couldn’t see when we were young.
I remember the first time I went to see the film ‘Pulp Fiction’. I was 19 and I hated it. I just didn’t get it. I’d heard all the reviews and acclaims of creative brilliance but the only thing that surprised me as I walked out of the cinema was how boring and pointless I thought it was.
The scenes were too long, there was too much talking and it didn’t even appear to have a coherent structure. John Travolta gets shot dead half way through the film and then miraculously appears in another scene right after it! I had absolutely no idea what the heck was going on!
It wasn’t until years later when I watched it for a second time that I realised the scenes weren’t meant to be shown in chronological order and the film did actually have a very deliberate and quite innovative structure. As I watched it through older and wiser eyes I suddenly appreciated the brilliance of the film. The acting, the dialogue and the quirky atmosphere Tarintino had created, it was utterly absorbing. Why on earth hadn’t I noticed it the first time around? Why hadn’t I saw and appreciated the genius?
The reality was the genius had always been there, it had always been a brilliant film…I just needed to age a bit to see it.
I don’t think we’ll ever gain a full appreciation of everything life has to offer but I’m pretty sure more layers of pleasure and meaning become available the older and wiser we get. As we become more ‘experienced’ we start to see layers of appreciation we couldn’t see through younger eyes.
It’s not just with films but with most things we do. If we are open and willing to look deeper then there will always be greater depths of enjoyment and fulfilment to find. There will always be more to see, learn, explore and experience, in both our current activities and the things we are yet to do.
If we start buying into the illusion that we are past our prime, in decay and that ‘today’ is no longer ‘our day’ though, then we start to close ourselves off to these layers. We’re on, as many pre-retirees, say ‘the run down’. We might as well pop into a pair of slippers, grab a cup of Ovaltine and start watching re-runs of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘Cocoon’.
There will obviously come a time when our body is failing and our mind is nowhere near what it used to be but let’s not speed it up on purpose shall we?
That’s why I really don’t like the phrase ‘Back in the day’. Sure, it’s great to reminisce about past pleasant times and it’s wonderful to share memories with friends but I don’t think it’s particularly healthy to start believing that ‘our day’ has gone.
Today is the day! And now that we are a day wiser, it’s got the potential to be even better than yesterday.
All the best