“Our Worn Path and Those Who Cross It” Part Two

Time flies when your having fun and even when your not. Eleven years after graduating from high school my life was in shambles. On the surface it had all the appearances of being a great life I was married with two kids, had a decent enough job, making good money, nice house, good neighborhood, great friends, new car, hell, I was living the American Dream! Not! You see, at that time I was a very unhappy, very angry person. I was totally dissatisfied  with my life, my job, my marriage, everything. I hated my life and took out my anger on those closest to me. Like a child I even thought about running away and simply starting over again somewhere else. Yeah I was a chocolate mess. Why my wife stuck around through those dark years is beyond me, I was miserable.

Over the course of a year three people who had played a big part in my life passed away, my grandma, my first girlfriend and Beatle John Lennon. Their deaths got me thinking again and opened my eyes to the reality that life is fleeting and in time I was able to rise above my “poor me” pity party and get on with my life. Soon I was making major changes in my attitude and relationships and my life began to change for the better. It was around that time that I began seriously entertaining the idea of going to college, not just a few evening classes to improve myself, but full time to earn my Bachelor’s Degree as quickly as possible. It took awhile to convince my wife that the life changes I was experiencing were real and not some sort of scam, but in time she was on board, and told me she believed I was ‘ready’ and would support me in my pursuit.

That was perhaps one of the scariest days in my life. The reality was that with me going to school full-time and working only part time  my wife would be the major bread winner. Things were sure to get tight and there was even a chance that we would have to sell our home. Our mantra became “Sometimes you have to go backwards before you can go forward.” Let the change begin.

One of the first people I thought to contact was my old Continuation High School Teacher. I hadn’t seen him in years but thought he might be able to advise me on a course of action. I had no idea if he was even still in the area so I contacted the school district. I learned that he worked at Gladstone High School.  He was no longer teaching, but as luck would have it, was now a career counselor! I went to see him the following day. I remember walking nervously into the school office to see him. He was with a student so I had to wait. Suddenly his incredible laugh rolled out of his office causing the office staff to smile and just like that my fears were laid to rest, God he had a great laugh! It was incredible visiting with him after so many years. He hadn’t changed a bit, he was just as upbeat and positive as I remembered. Long story short, his help was invaluable. His words of encouragement and information were a big help in getting me off on the right foot on my academic journey.  He still believed in me and was able to cause me to reaffirm my belief in myself. I owe him much.

During my college years I was fortunate to cross paths with three more teachers who influenced me greatly, an English teacher and two History teachers. It was no coincidence that I went on to teach both English and History. I stayed in touch with them for several years after graduating but haven’t had contact with them in quite some time, still their influence lives on.  I do however, still see my old friend, the continuation teacher who went on to become the Assistant Principal of Guidance for AHS.  After teaching for ten years I had the good fortune of going to work for him as a guidance counselor. He was my boss for three years. He then retired and went on to bigger and better things. I tell you, I learned so much from him, not just about counseling, but about how to be a better person and get the most from the life experience.

I lost contact with him for a few years, but I recently had the opportunity to visit with him and his wife. It was awesome. We just picked up where we left off as good friends do. Although he has some health issues to contend with, he hasn’t changed a bit and still  maintains the same positive attitude, and sense of humor and sense of self I’ve always admired in him. He is a genuine friend and mentor. I hope to see him again soon and continue our friendship.

So keep your eyes, ears and heart open as you journey my friends, sometimes those who cross our life path can and do make lifelong impressions on us…

Just a Thought…

JS

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