“The Beverly Hillbillies” was a new hit TV show, the first James Bond movie was released (“Dr. No”), Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart, and I was born into the world. It was 1962, and Russian missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States had everybody a little nervous (leading to the installation of the hotline between the White House and the Kremlin). I, of course, remember none of this. What is my earliest memory? Who can say, given the unreliable and nonlinear nature of memory? It’s all pretty fuzzy, but then so is last week.
The biggest trigger of memory for me is music. Just this week I was listening to music from the seventies, as I often do, and remembering the heady days of my late teens. That was a special time for me – my first jobs (Caldors, Big G grocery store, Arco – I had three at once), my first car (a ’69 Mercury Montego), graduating from high school – all entries into the magical world of adulthood, which seems to lose some of its magic once you’re there for a while. Be careful what you wish for, as they say.
My best friend got me the job at the gas station during my last year of high school, and a little over a year later I would own it. Being my own boss appealed to me greatly, and I now realize this was because of my independent and introverted nature – I didn’t like working for others, and still don’t. I’m not cut out for it. I am very sensitive to how I am treated, and have a strong enough work ethic and sense of propriety that I don’t need someone breathing down my neck or second-guessing me all the time. Just leave me alone and I’ll function best. Entrepreneurship was for me, and it worked very well.
That song on the radio (“Cruel to be Kind”) put me back in that place for a brief instant, and it felt like it was yesterday. I don’t feel all that different in some respects from my 1979 self, except for the convictions and self-assuredness that thankfully come with age. While I felt somewhat defective back then due to my introverted nature, I now see it as perfectly normal for me and I wouldn’t trade it away even if I could. It does concern me some as I get older, as it’s easier to be independent and somewhat of a loner when young and able to take care of oneself. I don’t think I’d make a good nursing home resident, but then who does?
Why do we age? I suppose life would be pretty stagnant and boring if we didn’t. Life necessitates growth, and everything that grows and expands eventually reaches a point when it must change into something else.
Excuse me while I change into something more comfortable.