Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I wonder if he's still alive?

A week ago today, I was in San Francisco for business.  I decided to lodge at the Hostelling International USA San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hostel at Fort Baker.  It’s a stone’s throw from both Fisherman’s Wharf and the Presidio of San Francisco where I was stationed as a young soldier 46 years ago.  I’ve stayed there many times in my distant past while on business because I enjoy the international and vagabond flare of those who stay there.

As often is the case when returning to places visited long ago, memories start to come front and center about people I knew, places I frequented, etc., etc.  Perhaps the challenge of parking unique to hilly San Francisco triggered some of the memories entering my mind.

One memory was when I took an Introduction to Criminal Justice class at San Francisco City College.  I remember how difficult it was finding a parking place.  It was so bad that I decided I wouldn’t take any more classes.  It wasn’t fun circling around campus, over and over, trying to find a parking place and not be late for class.  Besides, I reckoned, there were better things to do than study. After all, I was an 18-year old young soldier living in exciting San Francisco.  Later, however, I did take another class, Introduction to Accounting, but it was held on base, so I didn’t have to deal with trying to find a non-existent parking place.    

This memory got me thinking about the instructor.  He was an older fellow, in relation to me, who was probably slightly past the halfway point of being a middle-aged man.  I don’t know why the thought of him entered my mind.  What I remember about him is how he always prefaced what he said with “basically speaking.”  This was his transition crutch to whatever it was he was about to say.  “I wonder if he’s still alive?”, I wondered, while doing a little finger math and reckoning that he’s probably not but, I’ll never know.

This pondering then took me back even further to a high school bookkeeping class I once took during summer school.  I don’t know why I took the class, but I liked it and the instructor.  This memory made me wonder if he was still alive.  I’m guessing he was in his early 40’s when I was about 16 or 17 years old.  This means, if he’s still alive, he’d be close to 90 years old.  It’s possible he’s still living but, I’ll never know.

I confess these are just two examples of the wonderings I have when spending time in yesteryear land.  I don’t know if there’s anything weird about having these wonderings.  Maybe they’re simply me wondering about my eventual meeting with the Grim Reaper.  Sooner or later, we’ll all get our turn.

Obviously, these two individuals left me with lingering memories about them.  Perhaps it was something I judged as intrinsically good that was deeply-embedded in my subconscious.  Whatever it was, it got me wondering.

I wonder if I might one day leave a lingering memory in the minds of people I have or will interactive with.  You know, younger people who chronologically have much more time remaining on planet earth than I do.

Will they remember some pearl of wisdom I shared with them, perhaps a joke or laughter-oriented encounter, or perhaps something unpleasant like a rough conflict encounter that puts one or both of us in an uncomfortable position we’d rather not be?

Or, might it be one or more of the thousand plus reflections they read at Pierini Fitness, diamonds in the rough, yet wholesome, middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.

Time will tell but, it does make me wonder, just as I was wondering last week, will they one day be wondering about me and thinking or saying, “I wonder if he’s still alive?”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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