I had a very interesting awakening this week when I attended a Hot Tuna concert in Durham. If you don’t know the band, they are made up of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady who were part of Jefferson Airplane. They play mostly blues and have been around since the late 60s. Jorma just celebrated his 70th birthday. Anyway, as I stood in the lobby of the Carolina Theater in Durham that night I was struck by the fact that everyone in the room looked like me. Not really looked like me but we were all contemporaries, people of the same time and place, people who loved and still love this music and I was struck at the fact that I was surrounded by a bunch of aging hippies.
It was a sort of wakeup call that even though I feel no different than I did 20 years ago (save for few aches and pains) I was in fact not much different from the two or three hundred other aging men and women who were born between 1945 and 1955 standing in that room. Then yesterday I received a letter from one of my high school roommates who I have not heard from in a couple of years (Michael J Platt). It was a long letter and much of it was musing on how the years had gone by and many of the dreams and plans of early adulthood had not been fulfilled and how the years had tempered those dreams, while there was still hope that they could yet be fulfilled. All of this, along with my pending birthday got me thinking about my own life and the dreams, decisions and people that have brought me to this place.
I grew up in that most dramatic era of the 1960s. It was a time of awakening, of testing the limits and of finding ones place in it all. I came from a large family, solidly middle to upper middle class. I had the opportunity as one of the last children, when my father’s income was on the rise, to attend a private prep school for my 4 years of high school, to have college paid for and to be free to pursue whatever degree I desired. College for me was really a time of self discovery. I began to question who I was and why I was here and what my destiny was. I studied Philosophy and Anthropology and I experimented with mind altering chemicals. I was in the streets in Madison Wisconsin protesting the War in Vietnam in 1969 along with the pepper gas and rubber bullets. I was on a path toward something but I wasn’t sure what that was. I had an opportunity to study in Copenhagen my junior year in college but I got married instead. Question number one: Where would I be today if I had taken that other path?
I got accepted to graduate school in Philosophy at Columbia but did not go, as we didn’t want to live in New York and be that far away from family. We went back to Madison instead and I got disillusioned with Philosophy and decided to go into the grocery business instead. Question number two: Where would I be if I had gone to Columbia?
I have 2 beautiful, smart and talented daughters and wonder how life could ever be better for having made that decision! Question number Three: What if I took another path, what would those kids look like?
I had an affair with someone who worked for me at a time when I did not want to be married anymore. Question number four: What if I had chosen Carrie? Where and who would I be now?
I stayed 10 more years and then I wanted my life to change, I wanted to love somebody. What if I had chosen to stay instead?
I let Pam go instead of fighting for the relationship. I wasn’t ready for that change. What if I had made that decision?
I did not let go when Sandy wanted to quit. I choose you!
So thanks Sandy, Karin, Pam, Carrie, Stan, all of my family, and all of you for making this a great life!
Every turn in life gives you an opportunity to take another path, go in a different direction.
Never look back and never regret… Life is delicious.