We are allotted a segment of time for life in the physical sense. It may not be the same for all but like a tool in the hands of a craftsman, the significance is in how we use it. We have little to guide us except the experiences of our predecessors and often that is discarded, forgotten or ignored by those in the vanguard of progress.   

    We evolve through trial and error, with many failures preceding success. Collectively we embrace change while cringing at the possibility of its consequences.  That which is best suited to meet the challenges of life is often elusive, yet we continue to roll the dice, and seek a better way on our journey in time.  Our motivation is self-preservation, our goal is survival but to what end?  Inevitably we will evolve into something we currently are not if successful?  We struggle desperately to preserve what we are so that we might change what we will be.  Are we any different than the caterpillar whose sole purpose is to become a butterfly and produce more eggs to hatch into caterpillars?  

    The creator of life installed a biological imperative for survival and pro-creation in all things that live.  The mighty oak, the microscopic virus, and man all share the same compulsion.  Life is persistent though never perfected.  Even the irony of lemmings hurling themselves from cliff tops into the sea is a collective bid for survival. One could say it is part of the script in life’s play on time’s eternal stage.  But where shall the next act take us?  

    We have learned much in our brief existence but in doing so discovered an expanding depth and breadth in our own ignorance.  With each answer we discover a multitude of new questions.  Today’s unknowns were yesterday’s unawares.  Tomorrow’s unawares are not yet our reality but when we discover them they will mold and shape us to deal with their truth.  Just as fish live in water we live in time.  It surrounds us, shaping and caressing, giving form and substance while providing a medium for life as it devours us.  

     These are my perceptions of time and life and are no more valid than yours or anyone else’s.  But like my memories they are my realities.  These days I find my mind drifting back to what some may call a misspent youth.  One recurring memory is of sultry September days on that dusty red clay field surrounded by spindly pines and blackberry briars where, Calvin Ramsey and Harry Logue stood in the shade and presided over boys 8th grade P.E.  There were no football players in that class, at least not for long, so we didn’t get a lot of close attention from our mentors.  Sometimes we played softball, with no equipment other than a ball and bat.  We used whatever boards or rocks we could find for bases and used landmarks for foul lines.  There were no backstops, chalk lines, outfield fences or umpires.    Other times it was soccer played with a volleyball provided from the meager athletic budget.  There were no goals or lines defining the field.  If you got into the briar patches or too far into the trees you might be considered out of bounds some days.  Little did we know then soccer would become popular as a youth sport in The USA .  

     And then there was football.  We were allowed to play two-hand touch below the waist which usually resulted in a tackle to remove any doubt.  There was no equipment and half of us didn’t even wear shoes because they would get torn up and our family’s budgets could not replace them.  Early in September Coaches, Ramsey and Logue, were looking for possible football talent and was the time we most often played football at P.E.  After they assessed and culled out any potential candidates we were pretty much left to our own devices unless a fistfight needed to be broken up.  

     The choking red dust or when it rained oozing red mud on that bare rock strewn field surrounded by woods and briars had not been consecrated that September long ago.  Death Valley ” was in a future that time had not yet sculpted.  There was no stadium, scoreboard, track, grass or tradition.  No pennants, bands, majorettes, or lighting, just the shimmering late summer heat.  Where in years to come the cheers of thousands would be heard, then the only witnesses were the silent circling buzzard or the occasional fly by crow.  The heroes of the field were anonymous, wearing no uniform, often unshod, and carrying no banners.  No evidence would remain telling they had passed this way once they were gone.  The buzzard and crow would keep their secrets.  And so it was for those who lived outside the limelight.  They probably would not have been in that P.E. class had they been part of the academic/athletic college bound culture of more than fifty years ago.  But they had no time to spare for football, basketball or other extra curricular activities so it mattered not.  What seemed more pressing was a part time job to augment the needs of marginal family incomes.  

     We all have memories of the past but we didn’t all share the same perspective.  For some the golden years of high school were a high point in life while others found the transition from adolescence to adulthood difficult.   I believe most of us experienced something in between.  For those who never earned a letter jacket, became a cheerleader, or won a ribbon at the science fair, life had a different reality and graduation was long in coming.  When that day came it set many free and provided a new beginning for some.  

     Time polishes and gives context to our lives and we mark it closely yet cannot stay its passage.  It is also a great equalizer. 

Steve Carson, Class of ‘60