Friday, July 21, 2006


Five thousand hits came and went; now it’s on to bigger and better things. Hit number 5,000 came from a spam-blog and if it weren’t for the word verification enabled in my comments, I would have had a nice advertisement posted there. And no, I will not mention which wonderful, “as seen on TV,” “no household is complete without” product it is. These advertising schemes obviously generate business – from whom I can only imagine. I don’t buy from door-to-door salesmen (and women) or telemarketers either. I get enough unsolicited advertisement as it is.

Class of '81

Life today is exciting, exhilarating and exhausting. No dull moments, not much free time and not much is wasted. I’m at or near the limit while at the same time my capacity is ever increasing. Just when it looks like things will level off, the cosmic accelerator hits the floor and off we go again. It is the mirror image of the pace and direction life appeared to be taking me not so very long ago. How did this about face occur? It’s pretty simple, but not so easy.

It comes down to doing the work. However, like the Nike slogan, “Just Do It” or Nancy Reagan’s famous drug prevention program, ”Just Say No,” it was always easier said than done. That one four-letter word “just” put a sinister spin on what followed, as if to say, “This is so simple only losers can’t do it.” What if I can’t “do it?” No one ever told me what to do then. And if I can’t say “no,” am I a criminal, weak, morally deficient? Indeed, what if I just can’t say “no?”

We seem to want to make everything ultra-simple and lightning fast. Fast food, liposuction, steroids, disposable everything and instant gratification; we are spoiled rotten and complain about how tough we have it. There used to be a work ethic in this country. People expected to have to put in the effort to get the results. Now we’ve become a nation waiting for the personal injury lawsuit to retire and enjoy the fruits of our “labor.”

It’s not just the stereotypical “lowlife” or the down-and-out; it’s not the scam artists or an organized insurance racket. It’s the drunk driver that crashes and sues because there was no barrier preventing his accident, the burglar who falls off a roof and sues the homeowner or the motorist that claims injury in a sub-five mile per hour impact. How about the person who buys a home near an airport and then complains about the noise?

Sacrifice used to be part of the American Dream. Now that “dream” is supposed to be served up on a silver platter – we’re entitled to it. Right? It is a symptom; a telltale sign of generational post traumatic stress disorder. For some, it manifested as apathy; for others, obsessive-compulsive behavior including eating disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction. For some this confusion had no long-term or permanent effects. The point is that the seventies and eighties were a time of recovery and reflection – of redefining the social fabric of a nation.

I don’t blame this phenomenon on anyone; not on parents or politicians; demonstrators or institutions; leaders or followers. It was a time when a nation had to decompress; to try to understand the monumental turmoil and change that had occurred during the sixties and early seventies. The world and the nation were trying to catch up and a generation was caught in the crossfire. Many shook it off and persevered, some of us were bogged down in a quagmire of confusion of identity and many did not make it.

This perspective of the high school graduating class of 1981 is uniquely ours and I am sure each generation or piece thereof could offer its own unique experience of trial by fire, of change it endured. The industrial revolution, the Great Depression, WWII, and more recently, global terrorism and wars without borders are some of the defining events of other generations. Somehow though, it seems to me, in my very subjective opinion – something was lost in the twilight of the last century. It sure would be nice to get it back.

If my graduating class were to have one, this summer would be our 25-year reunion. I haven’t heard anything yet and I’m not hard to find. It would appear that everyone is much too busy or too lazy to put it together. The truth? I really don’t care. Those days are so very long gone and no matter the successes or lack thereof of my graduating class, no one really cared all that much about much anyway. Although my general outlook is far more positive, it doesn’t appear to work retroactively. I assume that I’m in good company.


awareness said...

"People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it. "
Anthony de Mello

It's difficult to say no when the drive to say yes comes from your heart....... Do you think possibly that's why saying no always elicits intense feelings?

Interesting thoughts once again, Mike. As for high school reunions and anniversaries? I've never been to one, and have no desire to. High school for me as well (which was around the time as you)seems like a lifetime away. I havent kept in touch with many of my h.s. friends, though I'm not in the same province anymore and that did make a big difference.

And yet.............I wouldn't have missed my camp reunion for anything. Same era, different connections, much more meaningful than high school ever was.

Look after yourself first.......

I read an interesting piece by Henri Nouwen last night. He used an analogy that I could relate to... a large wagon wheel. When he is centred and praying he feels like the hub of a wheel, looking out at all the "spokes" that emanate from the hub. Most days? He's dealing with one spoke at a time on the outside of the wheel. Meditation, some silence possibly, and/or prayer allows one to regroup and find the way back to feeling centred and in control of the spokes.

Even in the midst of being pulled in a variety of directions...ESPECIALLY then come to think of it...... it's very important to close the door and shut out all demands...... just for a wee little break.

Take care.

Jinsane said...

It's a good thing that your capacity is increasing. The demands of present time are out of control - at least in my little world. But I must admit that I always manage to find the time to fit it all in somehow.

As far as your reunion, I can definitely understand why you don't really care about it. It's not a bad thing. There just comes a time when revisiting the past just isn't as important as it used to be.

XO - Glad you're doing well!

scaredofu said...

Mr. Althouse,
You can always come to my reunion which is taking place in September. Funny thing is.... after wanting so badly (even now after 25 years) to be on a committee that plans this event, helping think of all the activities, and even arranging some of them, I am still a social outcast. Typical.

I have sent in my money and now have no inclination to attend. I guess after years of banging my head up against that wall, wanting to be accepted, I have decided to just be myself and quit trying. I have a "who gives a crap" attitude about this reunion thing.

Thanks for your words. They helped me......

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

GOod to see that your life is so rich these days! I always enjoy reading what you have to write about Mike.

I take the 5th on what year of my graduating class it would be!

Saur♥Kraut said...

An excellent analysis of our generation (though you're several years older than I am). I was Class of '84.

I am rather surprised that we are here (societally) after the conservative backlash we had in the 80s and the discovery of AIDS. I was certain there'd be no more cigarettes by now, and was pretty sure illegal drugs would be mostly obsolete. Some people lay it to blame at the door of the Clintons, but it's more than simply what a President represents. Society as a whole seems to have returned to the 70s, with some modifications.

Ellen said...

This year would have been my 31st reunion, if we had one. I never made it to the tenth, but did attend the 20th... and it was a blast to see the small group of people I graduated with. My whole graduating class consisted of 46 people. Talk about going to High School in a small town.....
I brought my yearbook, and had people re-sign their pictures. That was cool!

We were supposed to be the generation that learned from the mistakes of our elders. Pollution was supposed to be non-existant by now, gasoline a thing of the past due to better uses of hydro-electric power, and starvation wiped out because of the advances of technology in agriculture. It didn't happen, but some things did get a little better. We certainly have made many strides in technology... but only through fiber-optics and computers. We still have a long way to go.... and our best bet is to never stop learning.