Friday, September 23, 2011

Change is the Only Constant, Part 2

Change is the Only Constant
Part 2
In the earlier post, I said that change is the only constant, and yet it is what people fight the most. We become comfortable with the status quo, even with our grungy little apartments and walking the same routes to work, going to the same theaters, cafes, and having the same discussions with friends. We like settling into our couches and don't want to trade them in for spiffier models—that is most of us. There are of course those who need constant change, different friends, different places to live.

I'm of the first type. I really don't like too much change too quickly, and yet I am also a first adapter of new computers and software, but not so much new phones. At any rate, to make this more personal, this is what I miss in the way things used to be...

If I could go back in time and could tarry awhile, I'd go back to the farm in Deming, New Mexico, when I was sixteen years old. I thought nothing would ever change back then. I was stuck on the farm, stuck doing chores, like coming home from school and immediately having to jump in the pickup and check on the irrigation, maybe even move the syphon hoses to the next "set" and start those up. Then I had to head to the cow pens, or behind them to last year's mountain of dried field corn and strip the kernels off the cobs and fill two, five-gallon buckets with corn. One to be filled with water to let it soak for the pigs and one for the milk cow. But during those times between school and supper, coming on dusk, it was a time of dreaming of what would come in my life. At sixteen, I only had two years of high school left, and out on the farm, I was lonely and dreamy, and couldn't wait for things to change. Dusk seemed to last hours instead of minutes, and yet, when I look back on those days, I wish I could have that same sense of security, the sense that Mom would always be getting supper ready—a supper of cornbread, "goulash" (not really what is meant by that), pinto beans, and salsa, polished off with a glass of iced tea and for dessert peach cobbler—that Dad would be watching the news, drinking a cup of coffee in the living room, would always be there on the farm, his age frozen in time, younger than I am now.

By age sixteen, my two older sisters were already married (a change that had taken place only two years before) and were living on other farms. My sister Libby and I and our younger brother and sister were all that were left at home. Libby had her friends and was dating, and I had mine. I liked the high school dances, the ball games, and as I look back on it, the sweet ache for the guy I had a crush on, who sent me into a state of nervousness whenever we were in close proximity.

Even that uninitiated longing for something from him, some way to actually go out with him, to share my feelings and not be rejected—even that is frozen in time, but I'm no longer there in high school, except in my memories, and life and I have moved on.

Those last two years in high school were gone so quickly that, two years later, I was in college, loved it, felt like I was on top, but that went quickly by, as well. Change...the only constant.

It also seemed back then that the United States was the moral center of the world, to which the rest of the world looked, the good guy, the country that had taken the right stand in WWII, but with more perspective, I just have to remember the 55,000 young American men dead in Viet Nam. The average age of the Viet Nam soldier was only nineteen; 1961 to 1973. I only served in the last days of Viet Nam, never got out of Texas, tested urine for drugs that the soldiers were using, but if the soldier smoked or drank a lot of coffee, the test results were ruined, just a long brown streak up the glass plate sprayed with silacagel. Heroin would have shown a light lavender streak up the plate, but that was covered with the coffee and the nicotine stains. Later, after I left the service, they began to use electronic equipment, like the colter counter. Back then we tested 30,000 samples a day, from all branches of the service, every soldier. It was an ambitious program—and utterly deficient. That's one situation I was glad to see the end of.

The years flew by, and it seemed that the changes came faster and faster, relentlessly, from one national crisis to another, from one personal crisis to another, from one lover to another, from one job to another, and bam! I'm now on social security, as well as retirement from my last job. The only constant...change.

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