Don’t tell my mother, but I have been engaging in a very dangerous activity. I have been thinking.
Yep, been using my mind to try to figure out the answers to questions that have more depth than what sort of witty expression should I use for my next Facebook status update.
Two days ago I was added to a Facebook group for my high school and I admit to having spent a couple of moments pointing and clicking my way through the group and thinking about who we were versus who we are today.
In the process I realized that I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about what anyone planned on doing once we left the cozy confines of Birmingham High School. Back in those days we were called the Braves and my focus wasn’t on the future of my fellow students.
Can’t say if that makes me any more or any less self absorbed than my classmates any more than I can tell you what most of them wanted to do with our lives.
Did We Make a Difference?
Twenty-five years later I can tell you I am curious about what sort of impact we have have had upon the world. Have we made a difference? Did we make it better than it was?
I hope we did.
The most famous of my contemporaries is probably David Gregory who graduated a year behind me. David and I walked the halls of both junior high and high school together and for a while were lunch buddies but I can’t tell you what his dreams were.
I could tell you about other classmates who played professional basketball and baseball. I could tell you about some actors and others who you might know too, but that doesn’t do much other than turn into name dropping.
Nor does it answer the question of did we make a difference.
Although I need to concede that if someone posed the question to me I might wonder what made them arrogant enough to judge and ask why they would pose the question as “did” and not have.
That is because I am part of the class of 1987. We are all in our early forties now and though the future may not be endless there is a considerable amount of time left to make a difference.
Don’t Forget The Sunscreen
Twelve years ago Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich penned the lyrics to that song you just listened to. It wasn’t intended to be a song but life often goes in directions other than you expect.
It is the sort of graduation speech that I wish I would have heard, listened to and accepted. Even if I had heard it chances are it wouldn’t have sunk in because as my grandfather said many times, “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.”
Speaking of young shoulders I am responsible for several of those now. These little people call me dad and they expect me to have answers to their questions and wonder if I am going to be this goofy when they are my age.
Sometimes when they ask me questions I give them a response that sounds exactly like my mother/father would say and wonder why I am channeling their words while using my voice.
Elections 9-11, Murder and School
Their questions are getting harder and more sophisticated. They want more details about 9-11 and why it happened. They have asked if I would kill bad guys who broke into our house, why people care what color skin other people have and who I am going to vote for.
Some of it is easy to answer. I tell them I am their father and I will protect them. I explain that some people do things for reasons that make no sense and that we need to think about appropriate responses. When they ask about who I am going to vote for I talk about thinking and not voting for someone or something just because everyone else.
My son wants to know why I looked angry when I said he and his sister need to think about who they want to vote for and why. I forget sometimes the poker face is harder to keep with them. They recognize the signs when I am not saying all that I think.
So I make it easy and explain that we have responsibility to take our votes seriously and to make sure we are educated. I tell them to do what they think is right based upon facts and values not just gut instinct.
Later on I cruise through more status updates and stare at some photos of old friends. I read about vacations people took and play around writing about some fabulous trip I never took.
It is silly but part of me feels like it would be fun to talk about scaling Mt. Everest, going on safari in Africa and my cabin in the West Indies. It might be fun to buy some stock photos of the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Certainly it would be more interesting for people to read than all of the political jibber jabber, but I don’t know if it would qualify as helping to make a difference. Can’t say that it would bring people closer together.
So maybe it is best to try and focus on providing practical advice that we can call benefit from. Since someone already suggested we not forget the sunscreen I’ll suggest we also not forget our umbrellas.
Some people are far more likely to open it than a book and that might actually help prevent them from catching pneumonia which in turn will save their lives and allow me to say that I have made a difference.
What about you?