I never want anything for my birthday.
It drives people close to me up the wall.
This year, though, it is a bit different. I turned 58 today. And I do have a birthday wish —more about that later.
Life is good. I'm certainly not rich and I'm certainly not poor.
I've got just about everything I need. There's a roof over my head that I send Wells Fargo Bank a payment for each week. I have a vehicle with the best possible option available — no payment. I have two nutso Dalmatians. My stomach is full. There's food in the fridge and 100 pounds of almonds in the pantry.
My underwear does not have holes in them. I am not wanting for clothes.
I have a job I love. I'm in good health. I'm able to take a needle in the arm every two weeks or so to help others by donating platelets.
And I'm in a good place. By that I mean two things: I live in Manteca that despite its challenges is a great place to call home. I also have been able to bury negative childhood memories — scars actually — of things that should never happen to anyone.
For the past three months my granddaughter Ashley's boyfriend has been living with me. I've known Sawyer for a good three or so years.
He is even crazy enough to have accompanied my on one of my excursions to Death Valley where I can never get my fill of hiking up canyons and into the rugged mountains.
But most of all he's a good kid. Ok, so he's 21 but when you're 58 you can get away with calling someone young enough to be your grandson a kid.
Sawyer is a good worker. He's also smart, sensitive, and scared.
By scared I mean scared of the future.
At his age you haven't put much behind you to allow you to put things into perspective.
He frets whether he'll ever have enough money to live on his own or buy a house. He frets whether the car he drives will last much longer. His car, by the way, is a 1986 Buick given to him by his grandmother and it has only 60,000 miles on it. And when it comes to fretting, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Sawyer really isn't much different than any other 21 in that aspect. They tend to dream big and even though they are plowing ahead they often fear they won't go anywhere.
That brings me to what I'd like for my birthday. It's really simple but near impossible to convey at the same. I'd like Sawyer — and others his age as well — to be able to have patience.
I'm sure he gets tired of me trying to reassure him that you just have to give things time. When you're 21 you want to run sprints and not a marathon.
You lack perspective that only time can give.
When your heart gets skinned it feels as if someone has shoved a dagger right through it.
If you make a mistake you multiply the severity of it so much that you push yourself to the proverbial cliff's edge. There are no mole hills when you are young. There are only mountains.
It's frustrating and heartbreaking at the same time trying to explain that to someone who didn't appear on earth until 51 years after Ma Bell rolled out the world' first push button phones. The entire world has been at their fingertips since they hit puberty. With the world brought to them via smartphones as a yardstick no wonder those barely out of high school get frustrated about their future. You can't get there quick like a Tweet. It takes a lot of seemingly endless small steps
The trick is to not let the distance you must go and the sometimes maddeningly slow progress you make drive you to despair.
I make a habit of revisiting at least once every place I've hiked to such as mountains, remote canyons and even sand dunes accessible only by crossing the desert by covering four miles one way on foot.
The first time you hike to such places it seems like it will never end. You fret about whether you will inadvertently wander off the trail. You fear a misstep could send you over a sharp drop. You worry about getting there and back before darkness falls.
So when you finally reach the summit, you mentally have invested more time and pain than you really did.
Revisit the summit a second time and the journey there seems like a snap.
It is the same when you take a road trip to a destination the first time. And it's why those under 12 tend to ask those four annoying words every 10 miles: "Are we there yet?"
The last 800 or so words could easily have been shortened to "life is a journey."
You may get that at age 58 but it is highly doubtful anyone at age 21 will.
So if I can't get Sawyer to grasp the need for patience, I wish for the next best thing: His willingness to rely on me as a source of reassurance.
Things do get better.
I know. Myself — and countless others who thought we'd never save up the money to buy a transistor radio let alone a new home selling for $6,500 — are living proof of that.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.