Monday, July 31, 2006

"The times they are a changin..."

This piece has been rattling around in my head for some time. Not sure just where it might lead. I have not written it before as I felt, and still do to some extent, that I did not have a very defined grasp of just what I see as the changes from my teen years to today.

I graduated from high school in the small Central Illinois town of Pekin. I think the town was 20-25 thousand back then. My class of 1961 held its 45th reunion this June. That is always a telling event. Perhaps the most important observation I might make is that the "cliques" have, for the most part, disappeared. The early reunions; 10 - 15 - 20 years still saw the groups together. Now there seems a certain mellowness about us. I was actually entertained by my table of participants. One was a drum majorette while I was drum major. (she is still the lovely slender blonde I knew from 1st grade forward!) Another I recalled only by name, but with no association during school. An interesting fellow. Another was a man I do not even recall. He was quiet, but certainly interested in all of us.

An earlier night, before the reunion actually began, about 6 of us (two as couples) plus two of our spouses gathered at a Peoria restaurant for a quiet dinner and talk. A very pleasant evening.

In actual fact our group has an edge on the reunion thing as some 50 plus of my school mates, graduating over a five year span, have become re-acquainted through an email group begun by a fellow who graduated the class before me. This group has spent the past five years exchanging memories of our town and our time there. We are a diverse group, counting as members; A retired Sr. Capt. who flew 777s for United; a retired fighterjet piulot now publishing a trucking magazine; a retired partner in one of the Big 5 accounting firms; a professor or two; a few business owners; several housewives; a fellow living in Russia buying and selling manufacturing machinery; LOTS of engineers of all types; and, being from Central Illinois...we have our fair share of retired Caterpillar Tractor Co. folks.

Having set the stage with the above, as the Duchess and I made our way back to Tampa from the reunion (by motorhome), I did a lot of thinking about change since high school.

This morning Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) sent me to Jeff Jarvis' site to read about a change in movie audiences. An interesting viewpoint I am not sure is wrong!

I sense a change in many of those near my least in my circle of folks. There seems to be coming out a certain lessening of the drive we all had. I know for my part I feel the approaching retirement as a time for ME. The Duchess and I have plans for things to do and places to go. I feel a bit as if the race is over and we can now stop and smell the roses.

It does not have to do with being tired, nor resigning from the world. We are still quite active with me Chair of the Trustees of my Elks Lodge, and she and I members of "The Cruisers", a group of about 8-10 friends who like to gather...on a cruise, just for a party, or as we did this weekend, a wine tasting on a paddle wheeler in the intercoastal waterway off Clearwater. The Duchess is into water aerobics, water volleyball, and her bunco club. We both read and I blog on four sites.

The relax is, prehaps, due the fact that while we are certainly not wealthy, we will be comfortable and our plans now seem to be at fruition. There is a mental comfort at this "plan coming together".....We look forward to time together. Cruises, here and in Europe; our friends and my Lodge. Grandkids....9 in five well-spread homes! Our RV is a joy waiting to happen.

I guess to this point I didn't look around much at others and notice their drive and their pressures. I see it now in Lil Duke and others of our kids. I recall having it. I am glad it is now lots further down in my list of things about my life.

Time to enjoy.....23 more work days to come to the hospital. But who's counting?