Looking At The Past


As I was packing up the bookshelves, I found several Junior High and High School year books. I started looking through them, boy did we have ugly hair styles and uncomfortable clothes in Junior High, but by the time we were in High school, the hippie look of long hair, peasant blouses, and jeans were in style. It was definitely a solid change in how one style changed the way we dressed. In fact, I know many people my age who still live in jeans and peasant blouses. Guys still wear long hair and jeans and T-shirts too. Although I think any guy over forty needs to rethink the long hair and bald spot look.

One think that was clear in the yearbooks was who the popular crowd was. Their faces were plastered all over the books. Cheerleaders, class president, football players, all were involved in every sort of club and activity. Well, there were the nerdy groups like chess club and the motor heads (aka greasers) who were big in things like shop and band. But it was always the popular kids, those that were the favorites of the teachers and administration who were front and center, even in crowd photos.

I remember that there was one table in the cafeteria where they gathered and spent lunch putting down the rest of us pathetic losers who simply didn’t measure up to their beauty and power. And they did have power. One hint from them that someone in their group no longer belonged and that person was immediately personae non grata. The girls were much more vicious in this behavior than the boys. It was a sad thing to observe.

I wasn’t part of that group, I was a nerdy kid who stayed in the background and simply observed the world around me. I didn’t exist in their world, I was a total non person to them. Fine with me, I didn’t have to deal with their behavior and attitude. I wondered, as I flipped though the pages of the yearbook, what happened to the school leaders and popular crowd.

The internet is an amazing thing when it comes to finding people. A few stokes of the keyboard keys and low and behold, they are found on various sites. Interestingly enough, most of them had their glory days in High School and haven’t really done a great deal since then. Thye mostly still live in the same area, working regular jobs, married with kids. Some went to college and hold white collar jobs doing the mundane white collar things. Not a one of them has burst out of the shell around them and become an outstanding policeman or woman, a military hero, or a political leader in their home town or state. What a waste of potential and ability. Not that I am all that different.

However, I have met most of my dreams and items on my bucket list. A college education, living abroad, traveling the world, raising children, and staying married to the love of my life. I’ve written two books and published them on Amazon (under the name Jo Calhoun). I have lived every day to the fullest, and in my aging days I am still trying to learn, grow, and make a difference in my world. When I look at folks who never tried to fulfill their potential, it makes me sad and a bit frustrated.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with staying home and raising kids, I did that for years. Not that there is anything wrong with being a hands on kind of guy or woman who stays at the same job for years. It is a comfortable way of life. But there is so much more to see and experience in the world. Sometimes, all it takes is one step out of the comfort zone and the power of discovery takes over.

Now that most of the folks my age are retiring, it is a great opportunity to step out of that zone and step into discovery of a whole new world. Maybe I will see you there, Mr. or Miss Popularity, and this nerdy girl will be able to enhance your life too.

How the Hell Did This Happen?


Today, according to government stats., I am officially old. I am 65 and yesterday I was not old at 64. Statistics do not always add up to a happy ending when everything changes over night, I didn’t think it would bother me, but it does. Just like turning 31 made me upset because I was over 30.

I never expected to be this old, and I have one burning question, How the HELL did it happen so fast? Seems like a few days ago I was living in Harrison, Arkansas raising my boys and going on hikes with my friend Candace Lovelady and hanging out with scouts and the kids from Church. And now I hang out with folks at the dialysis center and the farthest I can hike is the limit of my oxygen hose. This was not what I had planned for my retirement.

But my plans and God’s plan aren’t always the same. There is a lesson in all of this illness and aging thing. I don’t know what it is yet, but God always has a plan, and I just need to figure out what he wants me to learn or needs me to understand. I have always been a bit slow in letting go and letting God lead me. It’s the stubborn Neanderthal genes in me that causes me to be so bossy.

So Happy Birthday to me, and everyone else turning 65. Now we can take our opinionated selves down to the senior center and gossip, argue, and debate with all the other old farts – while we get a free lunch. For today, however, I am going to dialysis then out to dinner with the love of my life. It isn’t exciting, but it is what it is and I am thankful for that much. Still, I want to know how I got this old so darned fast!