- The song It Was a Very Good Year was written by Ervin Drake for the Kingston Trio, but it was Frank Sinatra that made it famous. The lyrics reminisce about different periods in a man’s life and the women he encountered. Are there very good years in your life or, if not good, significant ones? I’ll start with the ones in the song.
When I Was 17
Seventeen or whatever age you were when you were a senior in high school is a good place to start. You were in the top echelon of the school. Lowly freshmen looked up to you. At the same time you were about to enter into a new world where you were once again the lowly freshman in college or trade school or the bottom rung of the ladder of the working world.
It is also the time when you start making major life decisions for yourself. Up to this point, you had to go to school by law and the schools you went to were determined by were you lived. Your parents, to varying degrees, made the other major decisions in your life. Now it was your turn. Do you go to college and, if so, which one? Do you stay near home or do you move away either for work or school?
It may have also been a time of parting. You had been around the same kids most of your life. Now many of them would be moving away or you would and you would probably never see them again. I would say this year was definitely a very significant year in most people’s lives. Was it for you? Do you remember what it felt like?
When I Was 21
The second significant age varies based on what you did after high school. Actually turning 21 does have a special significance. In most of the states in the U.S., it’s when you can legally drink. It used to also be the age of majority and still tends to mark when you officially become an adult. It’s the last of the age restrictions. It’s also probably the last time when you wished you were older. Future age milestones such as the big three-oh were looked upon with dread.
It’s not the age, but the event that defines this major point in you life. It’s when you finished school be it college or high school, start to make you own living, and, importantly, get your own place. You finally have independence. Other than the forty hours or more a week your job takes, you are free to do what you please. You may have lovers stay the night or move in permanently. You go to parties at you friends places or have them at yours. You could say it was the beginning of your adulthood. Did it occur to you when you walked in the door of your first place with a box in your hands or when you received your diploma?
When I Was 35
By this time in life, there is no one age that fits for most people. The major event of this period involves settling down. It usually meant marriage, children, and buying house. You now had many responsibilities. Life became much more of a routine, especially if you had children. Did you feel that you turned a corner in you life when you got married or had your first child or were you so caught up in the experience that you didn’t realize things would be different from then on?
But Now the Days Are Short
No other ages are covered in the lyrics, only looking back. The limitations of the three minute song probably made it an expedient cut off point. While perhaps not romantic ones, there are a few more significant ages to be examined.
When I Was 56
Youth is long past and middle age is coming to an end as well. You are probably at the height of you career or near it. If you had kids, they’re getting close to moving out or already have. You’re planning for the end of your life: writing a will and deciding what to do when you retire. You have reached the point where most of you life is behind you. This is probably only realized in retrospect. Was it the case for you or was there an event that made you think you were at your peak?
When I Was 65
The traditional retirement age is 65. You’ve paid your dues and it’s time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. For some, it is welcome event. For others, it may be forced upon them. Either way, you are not working anymore. Hopefully money is not a problem and you can do anything you like. How did it feel to finally be done with the major responsibilities of life, to have done what society expected of you, to finally be free to live your life however you please?
Subject to Change
If you’re old enough to remember all these periods, it may be difficult to recall how you felt at the earlier ones. Don’t skip them. You should write down what you can. Thinking about a memory often brings back additional details. If you only are only past one or two of these events, you should write about them now while the memories are still strong. Add an item to your life time to do list to get back to write about the future goals when you reach them. I would have loved to have read now what I thought about graduating high school if I had written it then.