And now for a little levity
Scrambling for relevance after all these years
By STEVE LANG
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” – William James
Three decades ago, my sister sent me a birthday card foretelling the future while not ignoring the present.
“Got some silver in my pocket/and some silver in my hair,” and, “I’m old enough to know it/but I’m not as old as you.”
Even though she turned 60 a week or so ago, she still isn’t. And the truth is, I have more silver in my hair than in my pocket. Meanwhile, as I approach my reclining years, I continue on a quest to remain relevant.
How? To begin, by voting for myself in the last Presidential election. Finding a candidate ready and willing to both share and debate my views is important.
Once, when I was overheard talking to myself, I was asked if I answered myself as well.
“Only if I ask the right questions,” I replied.
I graduated from high school 45 years ago – in 1967 – so most of my past is behind me.
I say most because the rest of the world and I have not eluded the Beach Boys or Romney. They’re still on tour, although it should be noted that 45 years ago, George, not Mitt Romney was a major Republican Presidential hopeful on the campaign trail.
And the Beach Boys? Surf’s still up, but both surfboards and stages may require handrails.
Vampire shows, then featuring Christopher Lee as Dracula instead of Anna Paquin in “First Blood” were around in 1967, too, not to mention unrest in the Middle East.
With the passage of time comes the acquisition of some new information, though. Back then, everything I knew about hummingbirds was a simple Q and A:
Why do hummingbirds hum? Because they don’t know the words.
I have since learned a plethora of data about these miniature marvels, including the fact that they routinely eat anywhere from one-half to eight times their body weight in one day; fly up to 2,000 miles twice a year on migratory routes; and can hear better and see farther than the average human.
Most importantly, hummingbirds are smart enough to let me feed them, instead of the other way around.
When asked why I write about bygone days so often, my reply is simple: because there are more of them to remember. Past incidents are far easier to recall than those yet to happen.
While no year – except perhaps for 821 and 1127 (not counting deaths, not even the assassination of Charles the Good on March 2, 1127) – is without some historical significance, 1967 was memorable on in many ways.
1967 began with the first Super Bowl and ended with the first heart transplant. In between, Vietnam raged, Israel and Egypt went to war, San Francisco hosted the Summer of Love, natural disasters occurred and I left high school charged with the tasks of amounting to something and to get smarter.
Robin Williams once remarked, “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t there.” Not entirely accurate: one could have been entrenched in a library or living in an area so rural the dust bypassed it, like I did.
Along with the widespread government protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights, this era spawned some great sayings, among them, “Draft beer not students,” and a few years later, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Have times changed? Of course, and at times for the better. Heart transplants have become common, with an average survival rate of 15 years. We are still awaiting the first – and long overdue – brain transplant. Based on actions throughout the human race, this procedure remains eagerly anticipated.
High technology has spawned numerous innovations, especially in communication. Some of the same old news events re-occur in this generation, but we learn about them at the speed of light.
I discovered that becoming a senior citizen leads to temptation to become curmudgeonly, judgmental and to wear white pants that go halfway up to the chest alternating with plaid Bermuda shorts, black socks and sandals.
Given my choice between being 62 or staying 17 for 45 years I shall only say I have no interest in wearing pants that deliberately accentuate plumber’s butt, either. I continue to search for a parallel universe existing somewhere in between. While I may have evolved into the person my parents warned me about, I try to stay in touch with reality without taking up permanent residence.
And while some quotations retain their relevance through generations and even eons, some, depending on the individual, may require adjustment.
Anonymous once decreed, “Don’t walk behind me because I may not lead. . .”
. . .these days, it’s because I may have gas.
Steve Lang warns not to walk ahead of him, either; he may step on your heels. His day job is Sul Ross State University news and information director.
Story filed under: Big Bend Blog