Reflections on 56 …


“Remember the feeling as a child, When you woke up and morning smiled. It’s time you felt like you did then.”

At 56, the morning still smiles when I get up, as brightly in Indian Trail as it ever did back when I was a boy in South Boston, er Cluster Springs. I sometimes write about those days, both the events I remember fondly and the ones that weren’t so special. I suppose that’s what you do when you get older.

And, oh by the way, the older thing doesn’t bother me at all. I’m glad to have grown up when I did. For one thing, they had festival seating at concerts. And of course we had all sorts of temptations in those days. I didn’t so much withstand them as survive them …

But enough of that. I don’t want to go back to those days. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Personally, the past 365 have been among the most eventful in my life.

“There’s just no percentage in remembering the past. It’s time you learned to live again at last.”

I feel like that’s what I’ve done the past 12 months. In June 2012, I moved upstairs at Red Ventures. Definite symbolism in the move. As a contract editor, I was downstairs. All the important stuff – except eating – happened upstairs (things have changed since – there’s important stuff on both floors). Upstairs was a frightening, mysterious place to me then.

That has changed. I’m still learning, and I hope I will continue to. (I’d better – stay in the same place at RV and you’ll find yourself getting lapped by the field.) But I’m pretty confident in my contributions and how they benefit the company.

That’s not to say that things are static. In September, my role at RV changed for the first time. I concentrate now on insurance. While much of what we do is proprietary, it’s safe to say that I edit and write and research stuff about insurance that shows up – if all goes well – in a great many places on the Web. My team of two young writers and I accepted the challenge we were given and – by every measure I can think of – excelled at it. Much credit, of course, goes to Team Kannon – Kelly and Shannon. They were so successful, in fact, that another cluster at RV “stole” Shannon from us. I’m happy to say she’s thriving in her new role.

But that change in September was nothing, my friends. The big one was coming in October. That’s when Austin dropped his bombshell – he was going to be a dad. I was supportive but scared. I needn’t have been so worried.

He and Grace have been terrific. They’ve made really good decisions, and they’re excellent with Samu-El. Every baby should be so loved.

I didn’t have a clue until he was born what a gift Sam would be to us. A colleague at work noted how I light up when I talk about the little family (and inevitably brag on it). I look forward to his visits constantly.

A lot has happened since Austin gave me the news: I’ve traveled to the Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman Island and Jamaica. I was offered reefer in Jamaica. I didn’t take it.

Back in the U.S., my role at RV has continued to expand. We’ve added a couple of new writers to our team. Team Kamantha – Katherine and Samantha – keeps me on my toes. They’re learning quickly – and they need to. I suspect another group in the office will steal Kelly from us sometime soon. She’s too good for my own good.

“Come with me, leave yesterday behind, And take a giant step outside your mind.”

A giant step outside your mind. Wisdom from The Monkees (by way of Carole King). Yep.

At 56, I’m not a journalist any more. I’m a marketer. I’m a would-be mentor. I’m an ideas guy. It was a pretty Giant Step this late in my career.

The morning smiles at me because I smile back at it. “I choose to be happy.” That’s what the boss of my company says. I do. And I’ve started taking other giant steps outside the routine, too.

I’ve gotten involved in Relay for Life again (as I was during my exile in Henderson). I’ve started being friendly again – had lunch the other day with a new kid who had just started work as a developer at RV. I didn’t know him at all, but the old guy and the new college grad had a pretty entertaining meal. I’ve signed up to help at a basketball camp at work for children with autism or epilepsy. I’ve reached out to all the young writers who’ve just started at RV to let them know I’ll help.

All this comes after a fairly long period of being withdrawn. Some might even say cranky.

Karen and children have asked me several times over the past couple of weeks what I want for my birthday. It’s a tough question. I feel like I have everything I want: A great family, a job I love, great neighbors (whom I wish I saw more of). I’ve got all the clothes and just general “stuff” I need.

It kind of reminds me of the end of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, right after (spoiler alert) Willie Wonka has given Charlie the factory.

Willy Wonka: “Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.”
Charlie: “What happened?”
Willy Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

I think they’re talking about me.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Reflections on 56 …

  1. Pingback: Reflections on 56 … | Rants 'n Raves

  2. Greg Mercer

    I realize it’s a bit corny but a little Rod Stewart just seems appropriate:
    Happy Birthday!

    May the good Lord be with you
    Down every road that you roam
    And may sunshine and happiness
    Surround you when you’re far from home
    And may you grow to be proud, dignified and true
    And do unto others as you’d have done to you
    Be courageous and be brave
    And in my heart you’ll always stay
    Forever young, forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May good fortune be with you
    May your guiding light be strong
    Build a stairway to Heaven
    With a prince or a vagabond
    And may you never love in vain
    And in my heart you will remain
    Forever young, forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    Forever young, forever young, yeah
    And when you finally fly away
    I’ll be hoping that I served you well
    For all the wisdom of a lifetime
    No one can ever tell
    But whatever road you choose
    I’m right behind you, win or lose
    Forever young, forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    For, forever young, forever young

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