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In the classic song “Yesterday, When I Was Young”, which has become synonymous with the singer Roy Clark, he laments “The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned I always built alas on weak and shifting sand.” I thought of this song recently, not because I heard Clark sang it on an oldies commercial, or because he’d been reported dead, another internet hoax. But, because I ran into a young athlete whose grand ideas had been unwittingly swept away by time.

He had cheated the reaper out of twenty years by rigorous exercise. His friends were runners twenty years his junior who thought there might be something useful to learn from his odyssey.

Like Satchel Page, he’d never looked back for fear something might be gaining on him.

Along the West Beach he would run for miles, the wind seemingly always at his back, until, like the song, he “ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out, never stopping to think what life was all about.”

Moments after I last saw the young man, it happened in a flash without warning. By the time he arrived at the hospital by ambulance he’d given back those twenty years, plus ten more. Brain tumors will do that.

Now for him, no longer can a run on the beach cure all ailments. But he stumbles. No longer can he wave away life’s obstacles with his “magic age as if it were a wand.” But still he believes.

In his mind he remains a young man swift of foot. But for all to see he’s a stooped figure on the shore leaning into the wind while navigating warily around the remnants of yesterday’s sand castles and a lifeless pelican.

This morning in the bathroom mirror I saw a figure who resembled him slightly, struggling to remember what had become of the man he was… yesterday, when I was young.

Malcolm D. Gibson
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved

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