How long ago was it? Or even if it was long ago, still, the question becomes, “Did it really happen?”
I swear the past is a thousand years ago or equally as good.
There was a time when everything was different. For example, I saw a young girl using an outdated flip phone the other day and thought to myself. “Wow. I remember them.”
I remember the time when cell phones had yet to make the scene. I remember a time when beepers and pagers came out. I remember a time when people used pay phones.
But then again, this seems like it was another lifetime ago. Perhaps this is age talking. Perhaps it only seems this way to me; as if years peel from the calendar and here we are again. The month of June is on its way. Social media is filled with photos and videos of young lives, which are about to begin. I see young smiles and bright shining faces. I see their prom pictures, which is something that I never experienced in my life.
I see young people holding their diplomas and college graduation ceremonies, which again, this is something that I never had the chance to experience. And I say this now, without regret – but still, I say this as a person who once considered this as an empty void in my life.
I see this – the youth of today and their spirit of tomorrow. I see them and hope they’ve learned from us. I hope that our misgivings do not translate in a way that only serves to cause a downward spiral.
I hear the news and wonder what the future will be like. I wonder if the younger generation will ever have the chance to form their spirit and use their talents. I wonder if they will know what love is. Or I wonder if they’ll ever feel the same about music as we did when we were that age.
I never had the chance to really experience certain things in life. In many ways, this is a rite of passage for most. For me, my rites of passage went off in different directions.
I heard something yesterday, which I took wrong. Or better yet, my interpretation of the moment was misspent.
I thought about the time my cousin Freddy told me about a jam session with his brother Robbie.
Robbie was my cousin too. He was older though. He was from a different generation. However, he was a musician nonetheless. Freddy was a guitar player. Robbie was a drummer.
Freddy was in the middle of his solo, which was so intense. Or maybe the solo was too intense and Robbie stopped the drums and asked, “Jesus Christ, Freddy! Don’t you ever just lay back and enjoy the ride?”
I was thinking about an observation about not having to be “On” all the time. And I’m not. But still, there are times when I find myself in the middle of a jam session – and I mean this figuratively, so-to-speak. There are times when I forget to lay back and enjoy the ride. There are times when I allow my cognitive past to intercept the moment – and though I am qualified to hold my spot in this world, I can see where the insecurity of missed opportunities and where the lack of regular experience can somehow lead to a dishonesty in our personal math.
I can see them, the youth, proud and happy in their caps and gowns. And I am proud of them. I am happy to see this. And yes, there is always a piece of me who will wonder what it might have been like to go to a prom or even show up at homeroom in high school. I never did much showing up back then.
There is a piece of me who will always wish I had the chance to throw my cap in the air and meet my parents who proudly awaited me in the parking lot.
I see the traditional traditions and I also see the need to show that not all things have to be the same. Not everyone will have the same history or schooling. I see the need to remind those who did not share the same schooling experience; to find them and let them know that they do not have to give into an idea to tell them that because they didn’t go through, see, or experience a traditional experience; that somehow they are less than. This is simply not true.
I was never a student. I never went to class much and when I did, the outcome was often unfortunate. In part, the reason for this is I was misled by my own demons. In the end, I became a fallen soldier to my own rebellion.
I never had a ceremony for any of my diplomas. No, they mostly came to me in the mail.
But either way, I see these kids who missed the traditional rites of passage (like me) and I hope for them. I wish for them. Or wait; better yet, I cheer for them.
Come to think of it, one of the wealthiest people that I ever knew was a women’s coat manufacturer. He made it past the eight grade.
I am not saying to quit school. I am not saying school is unnecessary. What I’m saying is the common traditions that we see are not always the key to a successful life. Anyone can be successful if they have the drive for it. Besides, there are plenty of people with high-priced educations who are unhappy or looking for work.
I say this because oftentimes, we give into the little predicaments in our head, which tell us that we are less than or unworthy because our pathways were different. So, we crank up the speed in our head and we go into the jam session, dead-on, with full intensity.
And dig it –
It’s great that we can show intensity.
But sometimes, it’s cool to sit back and enjoy the ride.