Saturday, June 11, 2016

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

This picture is the one that was in the yearbook (annual) my senior year. I even wanted red hair when I was eighteen! We actually had our senior portraits made during summer break of 1976, so this is me 40 years ago.

I graduated in 1977 from Richlands High School in Richlands, Va.

June 11. 2016-1977=39. 

Thirty Nine. 

I was 18, and looking forward to life with all of the naivete and excessive confidence an 18 year-old can summon. I hosted a graduation party at our house that spilled out into the yard, the neighbors yards, and the street itself. 

There are many moments, memory slices, I can summon to the forefront of my mind easily, and that day was one of them. 

I had good friends, good parents, and big dreams. 

Thirty-nine years later, I have good friends, a good family and still have dreams. 
I hope to never stop dreaming.

These are a few of the things I have learned over the past 39 years:

Seize the day.

Find and follow your bliss.

Wonder what would happen if ... and then try it and see.

Learn, Love, Laugh

Be kind. It costs nothing and means everything.

Read books, discover new music, know the space and people around you.

Get wet in the rain from time to time. 

Cry when you need to, then move on.

Tell those you love that you love them, and do it sooner rather than later. 

Take time to look people in the eye when you talk to them. 

Pay attention to the elderly, and the very young. 

This is a picture of me in my gown - I do not know where the cap is. I believe this was taken at the baccalaureate service.

If we are not aware of where we have been, and what it took for us to get to this point in our lives, we are missing such an opportunity. I see, hear, and read of so much turmoil ... if one were so minded, it would be so easy to don sackcloth and ashes and bemoan the state of the world, our society, the seemingly insurmountable tasks we perceive are ahead of us.  My very wise spouse is fond of asking, when I begin to panic at all of the "what ifs", what were you obsessing about two years ago? Five years ago? You made it, didn't you? 

The thing about life is, it keeps on happening. The happy, the sad, the distressing, the uplifting, the mundane, the sublime. They approach, they happen, then they are gone. We are left with memories, lessons, remnants that are like echoes and ripples that carry us on to the next triumph, the next heartache, the next ultimate experience. 

When I was 18 years old in 1977 I was so sure of the path I was going to travel. Where I am today is nothing whatsoever like that life I wove in my dreams. 

I am glad.

I am glad for each tear, each sleepless night, each leap into the unknown. I would not be the me I am today if I had not known betrayal, and ecstasy. The hunger and want make the feasts all the more special. The estrangements and anger bring appreciation of the loyal and steadfast. Hard lessons learned, some I am still learning. 

I occasionally get a glimpse of me as others see me, and the thing that amazes me is this: As unique and different as I may be, you are just as unique and different. As many struggles and doubts as I wrestle with, you have just as many, and they are just as distressing to you. As inconsequential as my public interactions may seem to me, they can have a lasting impact on another life, probably someone I do not even realize was watching, or listening. 

I feel assured of this, because people impact and influence me in myriad ways - people I may not even speak with. Sometimes as an onlooker I am astounded at a life lesson that jumps out at me. 

I remember so much of what the 18 year-old Ellen thought, and felt, and believed. The 57 year-old me is still that awkward, overconfident, brash teenager - and I am still excited at the path ahead. 

Thus concludes this meander through my memory lane, past - present - and most importantly, future. 

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