It graduation time for all the seniors in our institutes of higher learning. Because of this, last week’s newspaper column was the result of attendance at a graduation party. I was going to write this fancy intro to the column but its hot so I think I’m just going to get the cut and paste over with so you can enjoy my musings and then maybe get a cold shower.
Last weekend, my wife, Susie and I went to a High School graduation party for one of our great-nephews. During the course of my conversation with the young man, I learned that this fall he plans to continue his education and eventually enter the computer industry. His interests in electronics along with guidance from his school career counselors pointed him in that direction. In the meantime, until classes start, he plans to sleep late. As I listened to him lay out his plan, I couldn’t help but think that the best laid plans of mice and men do go astray; my nephew may never end up working in the computer field; lots of folks set out to be dentists or architects but end up selling cars. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) But at least, he does have a plan. I wish him a lot of luck and hope that he makes it.
The computer industry still looks to be a good place for a career. It provided me with a good living although I have to say it was not career counselors or a profound interest that landed me in the field. As a matter of fact, neither the computer industry nor guidance counselors had yet been invented when I was undergoing my matriculation at St. John High. (Note 1) We just went to school until, on a warm May evening, we marched down the center aisle of St. John Catholic church, received our diploma and then were turned loose on Society.
During those years of school, I don’t remember ever giving any thought to what I might want to do with my life. I just assumed that I would grow up, get married, have a family and spend my Friday nights playing penny a point Rum at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The details of this life were a bit fuzzy; I had little idea about what kind of job I would have although I felt that if I could be the best sack boy there was at the JayCee Grocery store, that would be okay. (Sack boys of America, please don’t be offended.) I dimly remember thinking that being a railroad engineer would be nice but I had no idea how to go about doing that. I also had no idea whom I might marry although I had several girls in mind. (I first had to find one who would have me. Sack boys don’t usually get the cream of the crop).
Now I’m going to tell you a secret which you parents might find hard to believe today. Most teenagers in 1958, including me, did not have a lick of sense. There was no thought of higher education on my part. I found that fact to be odd when I realized this some years later. Why didn’t I at least consider college? It’s not like I was Abe Lincoln living in the wilds of southern Indiana, for God’s sake.
But with more good fortune than bad, things turned out okay. I did find a girl who would have me and with the onset of children, this contributed greatly to my eventually finding a career. It took a few false starts, some effort on my part and of course, the most important thing; being in the right place at the right time. Even with that, there was no ‘Aha’ moment or realization that this was what I had been ordained to do. A particular set of circumstances took place that set me on that path and I realize I could just have easily ended up on a garbage truck (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either!)
As we all have, I came to several crossroads in my life where the path I did not take would have led to a much different result than the path that was chosen for me by dictate of circumstance. Of course, I’m not by myself here in this realization. Most everyone I know just had life happen to them. I have yet to meet anyone who remembers as a child thinking “I believe I’d like to work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics’. (Once again, not that there’s anything…. Yada, yada, yada.) .
So where am I going with this?? I don’t know. After visiting with my nephew, I went home just full of observations about life and its random twists and turns. I sat down intending to write an interesting, thought provoking and intellectual article about life but after several hours of staring at my computer monitor, I have finally figured out that I’m not equipped to do that. I was looking at how my life unfolded, hoping to provide myself with some answers and instead, I’m not even sure of what the question was.
In the end: Que Sera Sera, I guess.
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When I wrote that sentence, I considered that I might have been mistaken about my school’s lack of counselors. Most of my educational memories are little more than a blur. Luckily, when I need high school facts, I have an unimpeachable source in a couple of classmates who happen to be married to one another. I spent some time on the phone with one of them confirming the lack of guidance counselors and the lives of people we knew. I ended up wondering if every high school class has a person or two who went to the trouble to remember us as we were. It would be nice if there were.