One of the things that will come and visit my life from time-to-time are the memories of my youth. The young Garris will come and talk with the older me. Some of these experiences are a blend of the bitter and the sweet. One such visit took place this morning when I heard a familiar song from my youth.

I listened to the Neil Young song from 1972 titled, “Old Man.” Young’s way of ballad singing has always stirred my memories. He did it again this morning.

The song begins with the words –

Old man, look at my life,

I’m a lot like you were.

Old man, look at my life,

I’m a lot like you were.

Neil Young wrote this song at age 24 when his music success allowed him to purchase a large cattle ranch in Northern California called The Broken Arrow. An old man, Louis Avila, was the ranch caretaker. When Young visited his property for the first time, Avila gave Young a tour of the property from the seat of an old blue Jeep. Out of that interaction with Avila, Young wrote “Old Man” realizing both of their lives were similar. The old man had the same desires as the young singer and vice versa. The only difference was the age of the bodies in which those similar desires were carried – “I’m a lot like you were.” Neil Young wrote the song for the old caretaker.

As you look at your life the lyrics of Neil Young’s song could apply to your life as they did to mine. If you removed some of the pain and trauma that visits each of us, our basic desires remain familiar and unchanged in every human being. Age does not erase those desires we simply carry them forward into new seasons of life.

I have found it is important to revisit the young man I once was and invite him forward in time to walk with the older man I have become. These two meet in a place called “Memory” where they tell stories of each other’s experience. It is in that place of memory that exchanges are made – foolishness for wisdom and forgiveness for failure.

Today, invite the younger you to come and walk with the person you have become. Invite God to come and walk with the two of you to bring healing where healing is needed and hope where hope is not yet realized. This is the beauty of our lives as people created in the image of God. I’m a lot like you and you are a lot like me.


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