“Age is an excuse, not a reason.”
Lately, as I approach the ripe old age of fifty-eight, slogans and inspirational quotes seem to take a new importance. Eight years past the half-century mark. Where did the time go? Can I really be that old?
The past three years have been eventful for me, with the loss of a job that I had held for nearly eighteen years and the realization that I should have left nearly eighteen years ago and pursued the writing career that I now am working to get on track. I cannot express the joy that I feel to be able to work at the thing that I love to do every day. Thank God and thank my beautiful and supportive wife who is sacrificing her time and sanity to support us while I work toward once again pulling my weight.
Also thrust to the forefront of my life is a new appreciation and concern for my own health and the health of those around me. This is a process that has been slowly building for the years of my marriage making a jump when I became a parent twenty-five years ago and then taking a bit of a dip as the boys got older and I began my slow decline into laziness. (Another of my recent focuses.) Recently the rapid addition of three of the most adorable grandchildren into my life along with familiar reminders (high blood-pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) have combined to re-focus my attention upon healthier eating and exercise along with attention to the spiritual and mental health of myself and those that I love.
Speaking of getting old, my fortieth high school class reunion is coming up in June. Forty years since I skulked down the halls of Hillsboro Senior High School. There has been a lot of recent chatter on Facebook by my old classmates, but most of the memories that they share are not my memories. High school was not one of the highlights of my life. It really represents the beginnings of one of the darker times of my life.
As with most troubled youth of that age group, most of the pain and troubles that I had were self-inflicted, fueled by feelings of inferiority compounded by being one of the shortest and smallest guys on campus, but I remember having no trouble in finding volunteers who were willing and able to add to my misery. Add to that extreme shyness, and you had a toxic brew. My peers seemed more than willing to magnify my inadequacies and they had some fine role models as Hillsboro had a good stock of teachers and staff with a sadistic streak when it came to dealing with the occasional square peg.
I don’t mean to fall into a self-pity party here, just saying that I have some ambivalence about attending. I have only attended two of the reunions to date, the fifth and the twentieth. I didn’t enjoy them much, as the people who I really was hoping to re-connect with were not there. Like I say, I wasn’t really socially accepted and so did not know a lot of the people who I graduated with. Some names don’t even ring a bell, and others are just names without faces.
I did have a few friends, and I managed to make it through all four years of high school and graduate. I made some acquaintances here and there and anyway people change; Lord knows that I have. I can even think of a few teachers who actually made me believe that I could succeed at something. I am still writing because of the encouragement of one.
I must confess to following some of the chatter online and kind of wishing that I had been more involved with making the memories that so many of them share. I missed out on what could have been a wonderful part of my life and may have had an enormous impact on where my life has gone. Then again, everything that I have been and done has led me to the point at which I find myself now and I would want nothing different if it meant losing what I have. I am content.
Having said all this, I think that I am leaning toward attending. It would be fun to see who I remember and how much we all have changed. (Yes, I dragged out the old annuals.) I think, too, that as I get older it becomes more important to stay connected with each stage of the development that brought me to who I am today, and pleasant or not, high school had a very profound effect upon where my life went for many years beyond those confining walls.
I think that it is also important for me to be open to making new connections where perhaps an opportunity was lost years ago but may not be entirely gone. New friends are always worth finding, even if it takes forty years.
Back to age. Time is fleeting, no matter your age.
Age should be a reason, not an excuse.