Monday, May 28, 2007

Wanderers, past and present

I am a forward-looking guy, but I do know where I have been, sort of. I remember the schools I attended, the jobs I had, the businesses I have owned, but often the full details of those situations and experiences escape me. Who was the beautiful blonde sitting in front of me in my grade twelve history class, the one with whom I used to kibitz, instead of paying attention to the teacher? I have no idea. I can see her in my mind, but I can't remember her name.

I also can't remember the names of all of the band members in the Continentals, a band I played in in the early 1960's, or of all the singers in the New Crispy Critters, a mock-folk group I performed with around the same time. I can't remember the name of the Miss Niagara Something-or-another I had a brief fling with, or my co-workers at many of the jobs I've had.

It's remarkable that I can find my way home.

I haven't forgotten these names and these people because I spent the sixties in a drug-addled daze; far from it -- I don't use drugs, and didn't even in those days. I just have a lousy memory.

I am curious about the past though. I am curious about the people I knew, and what happened to them. Are they married, did they have kids, are they grandparents yet? Have they been successful in life? Are any of them in jail? Are any of them no longer with us? I know that at least three of the kids I grew up with are dead, one in a car accident, two by suicide. I know that the first girl I ever kissed has had serious health problems, at least as of several years ago. Her cousin, a close friend of mine from those days told me so.

Why is it that as we grow older we tend to look back more? My childhood and my teen-aged years weren't perfect by any means. I had a loving family at home, but at school I was often that 'weird foreign kid.' I learned early on not to let name calling and bullying bother me. It might have been an education I could have done without, but it was still an education. It made me tough and resilient. It also taught me that hate is a waste of time and energy, and a surefire way never to achieve the peace of mind we all aspire to. The expression oft used in religious circles, "hate the sin, but love the sinner," comes to mind. I don't actually love the people who might have made my life difficult during those years, but I don't hate them either. I never have. They weren't then, nor are they now, worth the effort.

Over the years, there were some people who were very nice to me. Those are the people whose faces I see clearest in my mind's eye. In life, there are many fair-weather friends and very few true friends. True friends are worth their weight in gold.

I got to thinking about these things when a friend of mine from about thirty years ago invited me to become her 'friend' on FaceBook. I set up a free account at FaceBook and, at risk of possible embarrassment, have opened up more of myself for scrutiny there, just in case someone from the good ol' days wanders by and wants to re-connect.

Who would have thought, way back in the 1950's and 1960's, as I was growing up, that there would be this thing called the Internet that made it possible for people to find each other. I wonder what lies ahead for us in the next 50 years. Will there be a magic pill that will allow us to remember the names of everyone we have ever known? In 50 years, I will be over one hundred and eleven years old, so chances are I will need all the help I can get.


  1. It's been 32 years since I graduated high school. Most of the people I went to school with are still living near my hometown. In fact only a few of my former classmates ever left the state of Montana.

    I still remember their names and even some of their old phone numbers (of course that was back when you HAD to know the number or look it up in the *Gasp* phone book).

    I have a harder time remembering the names of people I have met in recent years, for some reason. My dad says it's because I have old-timers disease. ;-)

  2. I went to four elementary schools and two high schools and have lost track of just about everyone.

    My brother-in-law calls Alzheimers 'old-timers' disease too. That is one affliction I can really do without. It's bad enough now; can you imagine not recognizing your spouse or children or having any real clue who you are? That would be dreadful!

  3. I too wonder how people I knew in the past are doing. I still keep up with the crowd I ran around with in college, but there are several people from other times I wish I knew about.

    I don't know why there is a propensity to look back the older we get.

  4. Ahhh, screwool-daze...Thank God they'll never come again. I can count on the fingers of one hand all the friends I had, and most of the rest of my classmates are either dead or in jail - mostly the latter! Of course, the real rectums went on to the blissful realm of the living dead: The middle-class American hellhole of debt and no-meaning, dead-end busywork and the inalienable right to an oppressive mortgage and health problems by the time you're 35.
    By God's grace, I've avoided all that. I also have the look-back habit, but believe the ability to not remember maybe a blessing rather than a curse. The longer I live, the fewer painful memories emerge from the morass to interrupt coherent thought, the easier it is to ignore the ghosts.
    I'm comforted by the knowledge that most of the people I went to school with weren't really, intentionally mean, just reacting to the reality that government coercion is antagonistic to learning, especially when one has no sense of him/herself as of yet.