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To those who are 20: Life gets better, a lot better

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POSTED March 30, 2013 2:15 a.m.

There’s only one gift I want as I turn 57.

That’s being able to make a 20-year-old understand life does get better. A lot better.

It can be frustrating finding a job and then struggling to make ends meet. At the same time you worry about what others think of you and are terrorized that you will never find love or lose the love that you have.

Your heart and very soul at times seem as if they are crushed by all the weight of sorrow and sometimes horrid things that one sometimes endures growing up.

When you’re 20 too often your dreams get overshadowed by your fears. Your eyes dance when talking about your ideal car or the house you plan to own one day. Then in the next breath you fear you’ll never be able to have either.

You fret about being all alone in the world. You get anxious about the future yet at the same time you forge ahead with unbridled energy.

And perhaps worst of all, you can only see a few feet in front of you on the journey down life’s path. It sounds a tad cliché but its true: Time heals all. It’s true whether it is the death of a loved one, abuse you may have endured, or the moments where others – intentionally or otherwise – make you feel inadequate and insignificant.

As time goes forward you will find the pain you endure only sweetens the love and success you earn.

The gift of life you have been given is much like a rose.

A rose inflicts pain through its thorns but rewards you with its bloom and scent. The more you put into roses the greater the chances are of getting scratches or drawing blood from thorns. But at the same time that increased effort with its risk of more pain pays off with even more vibrant blooms.

Every year you take stock of the rose deciding how to trim it back and what canes to get rid of so that the chance for a better year of blooms is enhanced.

And just like with your life, you can stray from the roses in the garden and put minimum effort in and they will still survive. At the same time, one or two years down the road you can make a new commitment to your efforts and the roses will respond accordingly.

Rebirth – for want of a better word – is possible whether it is your heart, soul or even your body.

You may squander the physical advantages of youth but you can improve your well being whether it is changing diet, engaging in exercise or a combination of both. You can do the same with your heart by simply re-engaging. And just like with exercise, as the years go by you will understand whether your efforts in love were a matter of fooling yourself, halfhearted attempts, or the real deal that brought about positive change in your life.

As for the plans you mapped out at age 20, if you get straight to where you envision you may never find happiness. That’s because sometimes straying off the well-planned path or taking an unexpected detour can find things you never thought of back when you were 20 whether it is love or success you never envisioned.

The key to life in the truest sense is simple: You can’t succeed until you fail. And that applies across the spectrum from life’s little challenges such as handiwork around the house, to your career and love.

Turning 57 on Sunday doesn’t make me a sage. As years go by you understand that you never stop learning, things do get better, you can be in better health than the previous year if you make an effort, and that love changes and grows.

But while life and love can be rocked by wind, battered by hurricane force trauma, and struggle beneath oppressive heat and bone-chilling cold, there is always the sweet moments. And what’s best of all they aren’t the ones you planned on finding.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.

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