Have you ever wondered what would have become of you, if only you hadn’t done that “one” thing way back when? You know, that “thing” that quite literally changed the entire trajectory of your life?
I think every one of had one of those moments. We reached a certain point, and we had a choice, turn left or go right, and we made a choice we thought was best given our predilections, and then for the rest of our lives, we wondered just WHAT might have happened instead, had we simply gone the other way.
I’d love to tell you that I had one of those, but I guess the truth is, there have been several.
Back when I was too young and too ignorant to even have a clue about life, I made a decision that certainly changed everything, no doubt about it.
I chose Radio, and I’m not looking back and wishing I hadn’t, but it DID have a profound impact on everything I’ve touched since that day in early 1966.
I was thrust into a world that, technically I could handle, but emotionally I was probably just plain too young. I began hanging out with people two and three times my age. WAY more experience, and it probably warped by world view to some degree. While my peers were out having fun, living life and having the “teen” experience, I zoomed right past all of that and wound up 12 going on 25, maybe older.
I see that, today, as a choice I shouldn’t have made, at least at that age. My parents believed in me, and frankly never questioned my decision, in fact, they supported it – even made it possible. In the wake of that, I realize that I really had few friends in High School, and those I did have were also older adults. I think, in some ways, I “acted out” my advanced age in the only ways I knew how. I was never mischievous, but I DID have a standing appointment with John Herbert, the Principal of the High School in those days.
I had a “master” plan of going to school and getting my BSEE and a First Class Radio License which was something that I thought I needed. It would allow me easy job access since every radio station had to have an FCC First on staff, but as well, from a management point of view, it would help understand the inner workings of the technology, and leave me in a position to make more informed decisions down the road.
THOSE are the kind of thoughts I had, as a 14 year old. I was quite literally planning a future based on my perceptions of what I would need, and I was following that plan to the “T.”
Meanwhile, my “friends” were partying, having a ball, and in general, doing life the old fashioned way. I missed ALL of that. The only parties I got to go to, were the one’s I planned myself. And I planned them. I put on some of the biggest and wildest shows Ticonderoga had ever seen. The last one, got us banned from using the School altogether when hundreds of kids got out of hand and it turned into a bit of a brawl.
I did “Battle of the Bands,” Sock Hops, High School Dances, and it just kept on going. Eventually, we just got too big for the community and it all got shut down. Turned out I was a great planner, and my execution was dead bang on along with my marketing – but when you needed help to rein things in, you’re out of control.
I pushed College. I worked six nights a week on the air in Hartford CT at WCCC doing all request line radio. I wanted out of school so bad that I took a class load that would have killed most people, let alone working 6-midnight. I read, studied, and passed….and then things simply took a turn I never saw coming.
My great Uncle sent me a letter one day. Turns out he and the rest of the family were looking forward to seeing me in a Uniform in Vietnam. Never one to simply accept something as is, I ran right down and enlisted. Turned out my scores were good, I had a private pilots license, and the required education, so I got to fly airplanes.
I was so enamored of the flying part that I thought that I’d change my radio career to flying. God, apparently, had other plans.
My flying career came to a horribly screeching halt when I was but 21. So much for that idea.
Had I simply made ONE decision differently, I might be an airline pilot today. That decision was a “land/don’t land” mind bender that probably took 10 seconds to make, even though it felt like a month. In those moments leading up to the execution of that decision, one person died, a few were injured, and I wound up with a right leg that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.
Good going Bob.
For literally YEARS, that ONE decision haunted me more than anything else in life. It changed me in material ways that often left me scratching my head.
Those of you who know me well, know that I am NOT an indecisive individual. I know I will wrong occasionally, but I will MAKE the call. One would think, that an experience like that, would make me question every decision, and sometimes I find myself doing just that, but almost always AFTER the fact. I tell myself that command responsibility REQUIRES a decision, and that waiting will get more people hurt than not. I’m not sure, if I created a spreadsheet, just how much water that theory would hold, but it’d be an interesting experiment.
Through the years, I’ve always known that I have two issues that will leave me lying flat down in a puddle of water if I don’t pay attention. One is a serious lack of fear, and the other is acting without fear. It’s two gun howitzer to carry around, and when it goes off, the shots are generally well heard.
I’ve prayed hard about “losing” that feature of my personality and honestly, The Good Lord has seen his way to helping me with the problem. He allowed me to live long enough to become a normal human being, or at least as normal as I could become.
I’ve now lived 40 years past my Father. I’ve seen the world from every vantage point. I been places and done things that most people read about, not experience. Through it all, I’ve managed to remain fairly unscathed and yet here I am, looking at life through a much different lens than I’ve ever done before.
My foot isn’t made of lead any longer….more like styrofoam. I think about tomorrow differently…as in I’m going to be here, so I might want to plan for it. For a great deal of my life, I lived like tomorrow would never come, so worrying about it seemed just plain academic.
I discovered that I like to write, even more than I used to like to talk. I’ve been accused of talking just to hear my own voice…what does that say about the words I type?
I’ve discovered that there are things that I just can’t do any longer. I used the terms “shock & awe” long before “W” made it popular. Today, I can still bring it, I just have to get it done in about 10 minutes. After that, it’s all shock and no awe if you get my drift.
In fact, there are a LOT of things that I CAN do all day, and all night. As long as they involve sitting in a chair or sleeping.
The only real “constants” over the course of my six decades, are radio, technology, and a deep desire to be loved. I had no idea, in all honesty, how important that last one was, or is. I don’t mean “adored” or even “desired.” I want to be in a place that explains me, maybe even defines me in some ways, and I find that being in a relationship where there is a sincere sharing of the past, the present, and the future, is the most fulfilling. Radio will always be there. Technology keeps on changing.
What makes life truly rewarding, is neither of those.
It’s ALL about the love.
My parents understood that. In fact, most everybody I know understood that. I was simply too busy paying attention to building a life, that I just plain FORGOT to live.
Gentlemen, start the clock!