The New Glory Days – Pruning back former glory to find new joy

pruning-back-some-former-gloryOne of my favorite summer flowers is the garden geranium, with its beautiful, summer-long color. It is the type of flower that you can count on, week after week, month after month. With only a bit of watering, and some essential pruning, they will continue to make your life brighter.

Growing up, our family hung white pails of red geraniums from the trees along our laneway. They were a cheerful sight for guests and part of the colorful backdrop for my early years.

What I didn't know then is that it is the pruning of geraniums that keeps them looking so wonderful. Yes, they'll survive if you just water them, but after a month they'll have a browning collection of old flower clusters — masses of former glory — that stifles the growth of the new blossoms.

On a geranium, removing the old flowers is easy. There's a single stem that holds each cluster, and you can quickly break off the old bits with your fingers.

But unlike flowers, when it comes to people's lives, former glories can be hard to prune away and leave behind.

getting-past-the-old-glory-daysEach of us has memories of great moments in our lives — our successes and our achievements. They were the times when we came out on top, either on our own or as part of a team. By the time we are adults, there can be all sorts of glory days to remember: Sports victories, school successes, business coups, art show ribbons, as well as outrageous but successful exploits of all types.

Memories of our past victories can be great fuel for our lives, giving us confidence, and reminding us that we can do it if we really try. They can boost our reputation, and help us reach new and better goals.

The problem with glory days is that they can become less of a trophy and more of an anchor, dragging us into the past. The change occurs when we stop using our previous successes as fuel for our future, and start thinking that either our best days are behind us, or that we can rest on our laurels.

A big part of moving forward with our lives is changing our focus from me to us — from our own victories to shared successes — from "I can do it" to "we can do it together." 

Life's best moments, for people of all ages, are usually the times we share. They are the times we are together, helping each other, and bringing our personal strengths, feelings and knowlege into play. Life's great times are when we are sharing the task and the fun. Sure we want to get things done, but it is the sharing of community that makes life special.

For many people, the years of competitive school, sports and work environments have left them thinking that their contribution time is over — that they haven't got what it takes anymore. But while youth does give an advantage when it comes to running a touchdown, people of every age can be a part of important projects, including social and community efforts.

And while it is true that it takes money to live, there is much more to life than money — and almost all of the really good things in life start with a smile and an offer to spend time with someone, helping.  Which would you prefer to say: "When I was 20 I won a football trophy" or "Later today a bunch of us will be helping fix up the community centre"?

Whatever your age there are opportunities for you to help make our world better, and for you to become happier.

Our glory days are still ahead — and we are going to share them.


Bruce Springsteen, in his song, Glory Days, talks about the problem of living in the past:

Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight and I'm going to drink till I get my fill. And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it but I probably will. Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory of.  Well time slips away and leaves you with nothing, mister, but boring stories of glory days.

Be a part of your community. Find ways to share your strengths and time on projects that matter to people.
You will find there is great joy in helping others, and that our glory days are still ahead.

[Return to the home page of]