It’s Time To Make Some Changes

Originally posted September 24, 2007

I took a walk this morning. It was a short one, perhaps fifteen minutes, maybe half a mile.

It’s something my doctor suggested I do twice a day, a suggestion she’s made several times over the past few years. More to the point, it’s something the Texas Gal strongly suggested I begin doing, today. Her desire to see me get my shoes on early in the morning and get my legs moving down the street stems from a couple of things:

First of all, there’s a little sheet of paper on my file cabinet that details what the lab at my doctor’s office found while examining my blood last week. There’s one measurement in particular – my cholesterol – that is too high. That’s partly a gift from my father and partly an outcome of my diet. That’s why my doctor told me to do some walking, twice a day.

The second reason for the Texas Gal’s insistence – and that’s not too strong a word – that I get some exercise likely has to do with how I spent my Saturday afternoon and how the two of us spent Saturday evening. I spent a portion of the afternoon at a memorial get-together for a college friend, and the two of us spent the evening with that friend’s brother and several of my other college friends, easing grief with companionship and laughter.

There’s nothing like an intimation of mortality to get one to change behavior, to begin to do things that should have been done some time ago, such as walking and watching my diet. And Seth’s passing earlier this month – and the memorial and gathering Saturday – was one of those intimations.

(Unhappily, Saturday’s gathering was the third such for me in a month. I wrote not long ago about the death of Rick and Rob’s mother. Shortly after that came the death of the mother of a college friend, one whom I saw Saturday as we celebrated Seth’s life. And then there was Seth. I certainly hope things come in threes, for if they do, I will have a respite from death for a while.)

The last time I saw Seth was about thirty years ago. The same was true of his elder brother, Sam, whom I knew first. Add to those sad admissions the fact that it had been at least fifteen years since I’d seen any of the college friends I spent time with Saturday afternoon and evening. That’s an awful thing to realize, to recognize that I had almost entirely lost touch with a group of people who, during a formative part of my life, had kept me sane and laughing.

I know why that happened, but that makes it no less sad: The woman whom I married long ago was threatened by the intensity of my friendships, and I left them behind for her. Although I’ve seen some of my college friends in the years since that marriage dissolved, it seems that the habit of contact, once broken, is a hard thing to resume.

But Saturday afternoon and evening – especially during the evening – times distant seemed recent. We talked about Seth and about our days at The Table, as we called the group that gathered long ago in the student union at St. Cloud State. We caught up on news of each other’s lives. I had more of that to do than they, for I learned early during the day’s events that even though I might not have often been in touch with those old friends, one of them is in frequent touch with a writing colleague of mine, so they’ve known the news of my life even though I haven’t always known theirs. And we laughed: at old stories and memories, at old jokes and new, and at how the Texas Gal, having met my college friends for the first time, was able several times to make common cause with two of the women there, leaving me blushing and laughing at the same time.

One of Seth’s passions was acting, most of it done for various amateur theater groups in St. Cloud. His adult son, whom I’d never met, was amused when I told him of a long-ago cinema workshop at the university. I’d adapted a short story for my group’s film, and the director, after reading the script, had said something to the effect that, “The lead actor should have an air of mystery and romance.”

Seth’s son, who inherited his father’s dark good looks, laughed. “That was Dad,” he said.

I’d like to be remembered as fondly and with as much joy and laughter as my long-ago friend Seth was Saturday evening (and the people whom I shared the evening were only a portion of a much larger group celebrating his life). But I’d like that evening of hoped-for memories and laughter to take place quite a few more years down the pike. So I’ll need to change some things.

The Texas Gal and I have agreed to modify our diets: less sugar, fewer processed foods, more vegetables. (That change will be difficult, as I am not fond of many vegetables.) And I will walk, twice a day. I might even get to like it.

Another change I am determined to make is to stay in touch this time with those friends with whom I reconnected this past weekend. Second chances at anything valuable are rare, and one should make the most of them.

Today’s album share has nothing to do with anything of that, except that Richie Havens’ music is somehow appropriate listening when one ponders one’s own mortality. The album, from 1976, is The End Of The Beginning, with nine of the ten tracks being covers, which is pretty standard for Havens. The one original, which closed Side One as the album was originally configured, is “I Was Educated By Myself,” which might be as close to autobiography as Havens ever gets in song. (His actual autobiography, a 1999 volume, was titled They Can’t Hide Us Anymore, with the title being an adaptation of the title of the second track of The End Of The Beginning. It’s a book well worth reading.)

Track list:
I’m Not In Love
We Can’t Hide It Anymore
Dreaming As One
You Can Close Your Eyes
I Was Educated By Myself
Daughter Of The Night
If Not For You
Do It Again
Wild Night
Long Train Running

Richie Havens – The End Of The Beginning [1976]

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One Response to “It’s Time To Make Some Changes”

  1. Saturday Single No. 79 « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] to St. Cloud State for a brief time. We see each other now and then – the last time, sadly, at a memorial service for a college friend – and exchange the occasional […]

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