That beautiful spring of 1970 was filled with the buzzed anticipation of an exciting future. It felt like an actor must feel before going onstage. Or, how a singer must feel when hearing their song for the first time on the radio. A runner across a finish line. A rush. A thrill. An all over body tingle of bliss. A smile plastered on our faces that just wouldn’t end.
Some of us were getting married. Some off to college. Some to work. Some to the military. Some still unknown as to where the future would take us. What path would it lead to? Where would we end up?
We were the innocents of high school graduation. May 29, 1970. An end of a passage. A closure of one stage of our life journey, the beginning of a path that would completely be our own.
We banged our lockers shut one last time, laughing down the familiar halls that echoed with our joy, and ran out the doors into an unfamiliar life, completely oblivious to the enormity of the moment. A change of seismic proportion.
We walked across that stage. Our parents cheered. They had done their jobs. They had raised us well. Mothers dabbed white hankies at their eyes when the first strains of Pomp and Circumstance filtered through the gym, while we ceremoniously marched down the aisle towards our future. Fathers’ hands that once held tiny fingers now hid tears that hovered near the brim, a betrayal of their emotions. Their babies were grown. In a blink of the eye, it seemed, we went from shaky baby steps to confident strides across the high school stage. Footprints leaving our childhood happily in the dust. We were on our own. “At last!”, we thought naively.
The innocence of that day leaves me speechless. My soul heavy with longing and regret. We listened to BJ Thomas, The Bee Gees, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, and Diana Ross’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as we sauntered through our teenage years, without realizing that we’d even have mountains to climb. We frolicked with giddiness of the unknown and thumbed our nose at the responsibilities that awaited us. We were young and strong and the best that we could be. Bob Seger’s song “Like a Rock” read our young minds perfectly.
“Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock.”
As I ponder upon those days and immerse myself in memories of blessed youth, I surround myself with his song in my ear and recall. I wish I could go back just one more day and “see myself again”.
Just one more day…
To walk those halls and laugh with my friends.
To feel the carefree spirit that we left.
To sit in our cars with the windows down and ride fast down country roads
To smell the green of the football field.
To thank my teachers.
To cherish going home after school.
To eat supper with my family around the kitchen table.
To have one more conversation with my dad.
To hug my friends tighter.
To say a longer good-bye.
Life is funny. You want it to go fast when you’re younger. You want it to go slow when you’re older. I wouldn’t change a single moment of my life. I am where I am supposed to be because of the journey that I traveled. But in my aging, I think about what I could tell my children and grandchildren through my experience. What wisdom can I give them. What secret can I share.
I’d tell them 3 simple words…. to slow down.
Take it all in. The moments that you rush through are never there again. They are nanoseconds in the big picture, but treasured gifts to your soul. Adulthood breeds responsibilities and they chip away at Seger’s carefree rock that once “stood there boldly…. standing arrow straight… charging at the gate”.
I truly love the song, but these words haunt me, because of the brutal truth that they speak.
“Twenty years now
Where’d they go
I don’t know
I sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone”
Look deep in your soul and recall your days – your glory days. Bask in your memories. Find your moment in the sun and see yourself again….
“Like a rock.”