Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wicomico Senior High School (For those unfamiliar with the name, it sounds just like it's spelled J ).
Saturday before last, October 9, 2014, I attended the 50th anniversary reunion for my high school class of 1964 in Salisbury, Maryland. Three years earlier, at a similar reunion to celebrate the nominal 65th birthday for most of us, I announced that my wife, Sharon, and I were expecting our first child. Amid understandable laughter, I convinced the gathered throng that we expected the stork to alight in the fall.
Indeed, our daughter, Sami (Samantha) arrived in October of that year. No one can say that I didn't warn the world that she was on the way. Attendant at the labor and delivery to comfort my wife and welcome our child, I repeatedly asked the obstetrician if she found an instruction manual. She assured me that such documents did not arrive with a child and we would be required to slough through the next eighteen years like all first-time parents. Now, with a two-and-a-half-year-old, we could have used that manual every day.

At the most recent reunion, Sami attended for a half hour and met many of Daddy's classmates. Then, the wild child's keeper sitter arrived and whisked her away for her meal, diaper change, and bedtime.
One of our classmates, John Long, an ostensibly retired attorney, stood at the dais and urged us, regardless of past accomplishments, to keep reaching for the next one. As seldom as I may agree with lawyers (just joking, John), his words fell near and dear to my psyche – and my philosophy.

Each of us can recount – and rightly take pride in – our accomplishments during the past fifty years – and before. I think John would agree that maybe we shouldn't sit on our collective butt, using our past accomplishments as a soft cushion. Part of Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion deals with inertia. Inertia, physical and mental, can be deadly. It results in a car slowly morphing into a bucket of rust, a hinge refusing to swing, and human joints and brains to atrophy.
We can continue our accomplishments well into our future. Want to learn to fly? Granted, the FAA is not fond of granting a new license to a sixty-eight-year-old (luckily, I got mine as a young man). However, we can still learn to fly. It's thrilling. We can develop our art skills, whether drawing, painting, or singing. We can learn a new language. (On a personal note, I recently started studying a new language – English.) Learn to cook, bake, crochet, counted cross-stitch. Go back to college, get that degree, get another degree, get your PhD. Many state university systems, Maryland included, grant free tuition to students over a certain age (in Maryland, it's sixty-three).

It seems to me that our strongest and most daunting challenges should come from within ourselves. Once we conquer those, arguably the most difficult, life's external challenges can be met more easily – with wisdom and finesse.
And, John, if you're listening, thank you for putting our philosophy into words. You may want to reconsider your position because I agree with you completely and that could damage your well-earned reputation.