Fleeting days of glory

Simon Smart attends the Manly Sea Eagles Old Boys' Day, and reflects on mortality and how fleeting our lives are.

“Glory Days … they’ll pass you by”, sang Bruce Springsteen on his 1985 Born in the USA album. Somehow those glory days have kept going for Springsteen and this European summer he’s still been singing to packed stadiums of adoring fans. But most of those in his audience keenly feel the original sentiment.

I was reminded of this 80s anthem recently when I went to see the mighty Manly Sea Eagles Rugby League team who I have loyally supported since I was about four years old. It was a home game and a big occasion because it was Old Boys Day where dozens of former players were honoured as they paraded around the ground.

Alarmingly, I could only recognise a few of my former heroes—once such commanding physical presences now looking so … diminished. Age has wearied them, and it turns out former footballers, once the years have caught up with them, look no different to old accountants, or real estate agents or teachers.

It’s a lesson, perhaps especially at footy finals time, that the stars and the fans of any era would do well to learn. The markers that we use to distinguish those we deem worthy of adulation are so fleeting. The unrelenting march of time a great leveller.

Life is full of distractions from the deeper questions, but occasionally we receive confronting reminders of our mortality and how fleeting our lives are.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come,” implores the writer of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.

It’s wisdom that still carries weight today for those open to its guidance. Situating our own story within a grand narrative gives meaning to our lives—our triumphs, our defeats; our joys and our consolations.