From cradle to grave in the blink of a doorman's eye

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I once knew a gentleman who said to me, “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today’s a gift and that’s why we call it the present.”

As a doorman, I am constantly reminded of that as I watch the cycle of life unfold all around me.

I watch once vibrant and smiling men and women in the building, in the neighborhood, next door--those who walked with swagger and rapid strides, who prepared religiously for the marathon every year, and people who were passionate about certain causes and were very vocal in their opinions—deteriorate before my eyes.

They are now relegated to wheelchairs, walkers and canes. Subdued by whatever is troubling them, bombarded with medical appointments, or just held hostage in their own apartments being visited by therapists, doctors and nurses. Others have left the building and I have an eerie feeling they will never come back.

I’m not getting any younger and watching these people with their time running out makes me wonder what my future holds.

“Today’s a gift and that’s why we call it the present.”

I try to live by those words. Even as I dream about publishing a book, and maybe even writing screenplays one day, I embrace my family, continue to grow as a father and try to be a better husband.

I also say I’m going to change certain ways or habits. Maybe even stop smoking.

But, I don’t, because I pass it off as a vice, a way to ease stress, or a go-along with a drink when out with friends. In the end, it is probably just an unwillingness to let go of my rebellious youth…“yesterday’s history” fails to compute in my brain sometimes.

Still, we all must move on and forward: The dark emptiness of an apartment where one person spent their final days will in fact become a vibrant, fresh start, a new chapter of life for someone else.

Maybe for one of the many women in the neighborhood or in my building who are walking around glowing and showing, expecting an addition to the family.

Granted, the prospect of a new baby is not viewed 100% positively by the staff: The lifting of strollers that look like Hummers is not kind to our backs.

But the more I get acquainted with the bigger picture, the more I appreciate seeing new life come into the world, watching boys and girls evolve from babies to toddlers, to teenagers in high school and young adults in college.

To the newest generation, I say welcome and may you be able to grow happily and healthily, and strive to be whatever you choose in life.

To the mystery of tomorrow?

Well, the mystery isn’t so much the ending—doormen and residents wind up at the same finish line—but the road we take to get there.

And that’s okay by me.

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