“That’s the way that the world goes ’round
You’re up one day, the next you’re down
It’s a half-an-inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown
That’s the way that the world goes ’round” – John Prine
I remember the first time I heard this song. I was a freshman at Delta State University, away from the watchful eye of my parents and doing what every red-blooded american 18-year-old male was doing at that time, PARTYING! My first semester of college was mostly a blur and I had the grades to show it, (Sorry Mom and Dad). I also worked 30-40 hours per week at a drive thru convenience store called “The Barn”. That was the best job I had until I became a bartender later on (That is a story for another time). It was there I met Jerry. Jerry was a few years older than me but, we became fast friends. He had his own house and we spent many nights over there drinking beer and listening to music. Jerry introduced me to John Prine, a singer/song writer who was not in the mainstream music scene. He had some great beer drinking, sing along songs that resonated with me. It was his song “That’s the way the world goes round” that struck me as profound. Google this song and listen to it and maybe you’ll get why. This was the first song that made me think. Music can do that for me. The lyrics of a certain song may strike me in a different way that others. I often use music to communicate what or how I am feeling. I will send my wife a song sometimes, just to let her know how I am feeling that moment. I may hear a song that is 30 years old but, it will mean something totally different to me now. At 18, all I really felt was scared and confused. What the hell was I supposed to do with my life?
My son recently approached me about an idea he was having. He was thinking about joining the military, specifically the Marines. This came completely out of left field as my son has never shown an interest in the military. First thing I ask was why. Then the next line of questions were who talked you into this, what brought this on, when did this become an option for you etc…. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the military and have great respect for those that serve. My father as in the National Guard and my brother served in the first Gulf War. I have many friends that are military so it is a great career choice but, I don’t believe it is for my son. He is not one to take orders, does not like to be told what to do and really has a hard time listening and doing as he is told. The military would be great for him but, he would be miserable for as long as he had to serve. I explained to him that although your father has a lot of connections and can do a lot of things, getting you out of the military is not one of them. He had made up his mind to go talk with a recruiter, take some test etc…. but promising me he would not sign anything before talking with me. After a few days, I had a man to man talk with him and discovered, he really is his father’s son. He, just like me at his age, came to the realization that he had no clue what to do with his life, he was 19 with no direction and scared. He just figured the military would give him something to do and the Marines were the “coolest” branch. After a few talks, I got him to understand that it is ok not to know what you want to do in life, but to be a Marine, you have to KNOW that is what you want. It is not the place to try and figure that out. My dad never talked to me like I talk to my son, he just wasn’t that guy. I wish sometime he would have been when I was 18, because I really needed direction. Luckily my dad did instill a good work ethic and common sense in me so, I made it out of “Teen Age Waste Land” unscathed.
I am now 53 and have a really good life. I have an amazing wife that I love completely, a great son who will grow up to be a great man and an amazing family that supports me. I have a close knit group of friends that “get me” and blessed they are in my life. I am for the most part healthy, working on getting healthier. I have a great job with people I like working with and I can truly say I am a happy person at this stage of my life. If I could go back in time and talk to my 18-year-old self, I would let him know it is normal to feel confused and scared at this time in life but, it will all work out. Every rocky road, disappointment, heartbreak and failure along the way has made me the person I am today. I would not change a thing because it was that path that lead me to where I am right now. Right now is a pretty great place to be for me.
Maybe you are lost, confused, scared or just tired with your life right now. Take a step back and look at what has you feeling that way. I am guessing if you take the time to look at what is causing you all this grief or pain, you will see that it is just “a half inch of water and you think you’re going to drown”. Just remember this is just another path to your destination. You may not know where your destination is right now but, I know God does. Trust that there is a reason for every thing you are going through. Stop, breathe and keep moving forward, whether it is in getting to be a healthier you or trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Do the right things and good things will come your way. Maybe today you don’t have a clue but, that is ok, “That’s the way that the world goes round.”
Go out today and be the best YOU, you can be!!