02:32:58 pm on
Wednesday 19 Jun 2024

Life as a Classroom
JR Hafer

As a young lad, everyone told me, “Life is a classroom. Pay attention, learn and always respect your elders! I suspected from the get-go that I was a slow-learner. There were all those remedial classes I had to take. Life can be cruel, when you keep repeating classes, until you learn the lesson.   

An acquaintance asked me, “Why are you such a negative person?”

I was shocked. Immediately, I replied, “Who me? I am not a negative person. I am always a positive person! Why in the world would you say that about me, or even to me? I'm the most positive person I know!”

Well, he hesitated before continuing... You're always saying, “Growing old sucks and negative things about getting older, that's why.”

“Let me tell you something, Jasper,” not his real name, of course, “I am just stating a fact of life as I see it. Ya see there's a story behind every statement folks make. One need to understand, they should stop and listen to what the person is really saying.” 

For example: When I say “good morning” to someone, the reply sometimes maybe “Oh, any morning is good if you wake up and you’re not six feet underground or a pile of ashes in a vase on a mantle!” My perspective isn't necessarily the same. I was ready to go and actually looking forward to going, at the age of 53. My father died at 53, his brother died at 53, their first cousin died at 53, my father's father died at 53 and who was I to break that tradition? Honestly, I was pretty “pissed off the day I turned 54.”

As they say, crap happens, right?

I have tried to make the best of life. Fifteen years after my expiration date there is no reason on the horizon for my expected or impending demise. Therefore, I continue writing my memoirs. A positive mindset; I am convinced that someday I may be remembered as a fellow that tried to be a writer and perhaps had a little success.

There are some good things about getting old though. One has lived long enough to, through experience, gain knowledge and file a great deal of “Stuff,” in his mental files. Folks see him as an authority because of his sheer longevity. They revere him simply because he has reached a chronological mark in his life span. I like that.

Maybe Jasper's right. Though getting old does suck, perhaps it wouldn't suck as bad, if I wouldn't dwell on that fact. Besides nobody cares anyway.

I have become an authority on airplanes because I have known some famous folks in history and flown some aircraft that are no longer flying. I have been very fortunate to know Arthur Godfrey, Eddie Rickenbaker, Dick Merrill and some others. I flew on the Constellation, also known as “Connie,” when Eastern Airlines had no Jets in its fleet; that was the late fifties. DC-3s were in regular service as regional carriers. Those were the days of my youth. Those experiences and memories are my files.

Getting old isn't bad. It is a matter of perspective. After all, what is life anyway, but a classroom? Isn't that what they say? I guess what I mean about getting old “Sucks” is, when your body starts wearing out. All your “flaps” wear out; older people know what I mean by that. Hearing and sight aren't as sharp and corrective lenses and hearing aids help only so much. Oh, yes and hair starts growing where hair isn't supposed to be growing, and you lose the hair where it has always grown. That's just not right!

Indeed, in retrospect I have lived a great life. Yes, I have had to repeat a few classes, and even re-repeat a one or two like the Marriage class. That one was a tough one to learn. But I think I got it right finally. Many have had to repeat that one. I have seen a lot of old “classmates” return to that class. 

Most of us have a rough start in life.

Some have a easy time and their childhood is a charmed one. A great family life and school with the all-American high school etc. then their life goes downhill from there. Those you think will be successful turn out to be not a career climber as expected. Others thought to be “Slackers,” become top gun career successful executives within their chosen field. You never know, but the fact is; never judge the content of one's character by where he came from.

Yes, I guess I am a negative person. I really do not want to be. I work hard not to be negative. I want to be a positive, but the truth about it I know I am negative. I am also a skeptical person, I don't like that either. I trust folks but I don't trust people. What's that all about?. I have learned I am mostly “normal” and most folks are a “patchwork” of emotions and enigmas with inconsistencies in their personalities. There is nothing unique about me. Therefore, I am normal.

Maybe getting old really doesn't “suck”, perhaps getting old is just a learning experience in which we need to deal with in maturing and learning about metamorphosis.  

I am still in school, still learning. I learn a new lesson every day. After all, life is just a classroom.     


JR Hafer writes from his home in central Florida.

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