This is my current goal. After 60+ years on this planet, I’ve lived a lot of different ways. The excited, dream-filled teenage years, the crazy days of college, those decades trying to get your career to take off, then maintaining that success while trying to constantly increase my experience and knowledge base. The common theme: very little sleep.
So I enter this decade of my life hoping to spend as many days as possible doing what I love to do. It seems like the smart way to live. However, this mindset was inspired by watching the passing of people I have known and loved over the years.
I’ve had this feeling for a while–making every day count. It’s just SO easy to get caught up in a busy, go-go-go lifestyle. Sure, its lots of fun, good times, etc. but the end result is that it makes time fly by. And when you’ve reached this stage, you really want to milk it for as long as you can.
Probably Alice Porter’s early departure was my wake-up call. Her husband, Shawn, followed her just a few years after that. If you’ve visited these blogs for a while, I’ve introduced you to several of those people who left this planet way too soon.
Recently, another one of my Torrance High School classmates passed away. Yes, it’s going to happen when you come from a class of 600 students. But when you read that name or hear it from another classmate, its easy to flashback to those days where you really did live day-by-day. Everything, every day was such a big deal.
Facebook, for all of its issues, has made it easier to stay in touch with those people from long ago. Some alum took it upon themselves to keep tabs of those we’ve lost. I just discovered this list online the other day and came across a few names that took me back to some pretty exciting times in my life. I don’t know how they died or any of the details, I just saw that they are no longer with us. But the memories remain.
Wayne Ferm–Wayne was a short, stocky guy with squinty eyes and a big smile as we walked around campus. His nickname was ‘Winky’.
Dexter Wolfgang–Dexter was years ahead of his time and my first acquaintance with a gay anyone. Everyone knew who he was and I understand he went on to be quite the hairstylist.
Mike Justice–I had him in a couple of my classes. Nice guy. Probably saw him at a reunion or two, I don’t remember for sure. I do know that he went on to become quite the photographer and died during a helicopter shoot over the Los Angeles Harbor earlier this year.
Merry Laskaris–Was one of those high school cuties you just didn’t forget. All that beauty and she could twirl a baton with the best of them.
Danny Gans–I played Little League with him and our paths didn’t cross much in high school, but he became quite the Las Vegas headliner.
Jon Lemler–Jon became quite the naturopath and healthy-living advocate. He met my wife Victoria at one of my reunions and we are both convinced it was with Jon’s help that Victoria conquered her kidney disease. Ironically, Jon was attending a conference in Las Vegas when he dropped dead from a massive heart attack.
The pictures in my head of each of these former classmates are as they appear in my old dusty yearbook. It’s how I remember them.
I really did have some great high school years. Some people look back and think those were the happiest days of their lives. For me, I’d include them, but I’ve always believed that if high school was the best time of your life, the rest of your life is nothing but a letdown. For me, it was just the start.
These days, my work schedule means launching into a new collection of conquests every Monday. Some routine, some new. But I’m amazed how anxious I still get every seven days, even though I know I’ll accomplish everything (and I do) but there’s this nagging feeling like I shouldn’t be able to do this. That there’s a rule I’m not observing. I should be in a 9-5 job, going to work and wishing I was somewhere else.
Well, I’m lucky enough to be at that “somewhere else” and feel blessed for having this opportunity. It’s becoming more and more obvious that I need to go back to my high school thinking, where every day was so incredibly important and special.
Because they are.