Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life Examinations.

Socrates is quoted as saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Some very interesting words to ponder. I've had lots of time to think about my 45 years in life. To some, that 45 years might seem like a long time. I know it seems like I'm very old in my 9-year-old son's eyes. But to others, that 45 years seems like just a drop in the bucket. To my dad, who just turned 77, I'm sure he thinks 45 was just a few moments ago.

I read online the other day that there are only a few people alive who were born in the 19th century. That would make them more than 115 years old. Can you imagine what all they have seen in their lifetimes?

But back to mine.

45 and one-half years. That's about 16,500 days - give or take a few.

Richard Nixon was in the White House when I was born. Just one month and ten days later, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The fall of Vietnam. The Bi-Centennial in 1976. Bruce Jenner and Nadia Comaneci excel in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. Star Wars. The 444 days of hearing Walter Cronkite tell us about the hostage crisis in Iran.  The launch of the first Space Shuttle. Ronald Reagan is shot. Sony introduces the Walkman.

I've spent several hours these past few weekends going through thousands of photographs my mom had kept throughout her 57-year marriage to my dad. Some of the photos even pre-date their marriage. It's been fun to look through these glimpses of our past. I've especially enjoyed the ones that were taken before my birth. As the youngest grandchild on my mother's side and the third to the youngest on my dad's side, there are lots of older cousins in these photos. It's been fun to look back and think.

Think about what was going through my parents' minds when they were taking those pictures. It was a simpler time, but yet a time filled with turmoil. 1968 was a pretty tragic year when we think about the killings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. There were major riots at the national political conventions. War made headlines daily. But yet, my parents were doing there best to raise a "normal" family in mid-America. I remember when I was probably about 10 years old and had realized I was born during the Vietnam Conflict, I was almost appalled to think that my parents would have a child in time of war. Why were they not fighting the fight of the war effort and making sure to do their best to conserve food and energy for the war effort? Obviously I had seen too many episodes of MASH on TV and read too much about WWII, of which, they were just young children when we went to war in 1942. They were just living their lives in middle America.

When I was just one, they decided to pack up us kids and their belongings and move back their home town to raise a family. I believe it was the best decision they ever made. We were raised with many cousins living up and down the street and grandparents living just blocks away - not thousands of miles like some of today's families face.

I feel so lucky to have grown up in a small town (population 700) in Northwest Kansas. One set of grandparents lived just two blocks to the south and the other set of grandparents lived four blocks to the east of our house on Main Street. Several of my dad's siblings raised their families in the same community - so there were lots of cousins around all the time. In my senior year of high school, there were 23 of us. Of those 23, at least half of us (if not more) started together in Kindergarten and now many of us are connected once again by social media.

Although I am raising my family in a bigger town (20,000), I still love living in Western Kansas. We're some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Well, I'm done rambling for now. I wonder what the next 45 years will be like?