Many years ago, as a budding anthropology major, one of the classics we were assigned was “Coming of Age in Samoa”, a classic study by Margaret Mead detailing the life passages of children ascending to adulthood in the South Pacific. This past weekend’s activities of my 56th high school class reunion caused me to revisit Ms. Mead’s constructs, and tweaked a notion that perhaps she hadn’t gone far enough.

In the first place, there were only 40 or so of our original 272; some of course have passed on but I believe that in general, many had adopted the attitude that I had at the “50th”; I had been in contact through the years with most of the ones, the five or six, important to me during high school. As for the others, I really could care less what they have been doing all these years. In fact, I didn’t know most of them then, and have no urge to “meet them” now. (I probably would have given this a miss also, but I needed to return to KC to pick up some of my Peace Corps artifacts which had been on display at the University of Kansas, having been that school’s first Peace Corps volunteer and the school  was recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps). A reception was held on the top floor of a building owned by one of our class, the Bernstein-Rein building, and which housed their advertising agency on two floors. I discovered that one of their other enterprises is a high end cosmetics firm, “Beauty Brands”, and I attempted to acquaint Mr. Bernstein with the long-ignored Halal market potential I had read about in publications of the American Halal Association, and which is a project of a former colleague.

But to get to my point—–I feel that I personally am still “growing”, continually looking within myself searching for the answer to the question, “Who am I?”.  But as I looked around the room, I wondered, “How many of these folks are still Seeking?”  Is this affair merely another compartment of The Waiting Room as each listens to hear “Next” called out, attached to their name, to enter into the Beyond? Are they like the guys at McDonald’s having coffee every morning, before heading to the golf course or their flower garden, no longer actively contributing to their society and surroundings? I wonder.

Margaret Mead was interested in cultural growth events in the lives of her research subjects, but maybe she should have gone further and looked internally into each one, and far beyond the “I am an adult” level. Every culture and society has events which signify either formally (christenings, etc.) or informally (attaining a driver’s license), that a new level has been attained, but studies usually stop when adulthood is reached. I assert that there remain many new plateaus to be reached, many canyons yet to explore, and many of them lie within. I am realizing that I am still “coming of age” as I continue to explore the worlds within my mind—what is Faith?  Love?  Leadership? Is there a Life Force? Questions, questions, questions. And in wrestling with them, I sometimes feel a deluge of a sea of words, sometimes even poetic, as their revelations wash across my thoughts. Yes, I am a Work in Progress. I am still “Coming of Age”.

I like to drive across Kansas, more so than Nebraska or South  Dakota which have been my routes east and west on other occasions. Contrary to the accepted thought, Kansas is not all flat, and there are many places when one meets new vistas, gazing out across gentle valleys and hills toward a distant horizon. At one point on my trip, I was driving beneath a cluster of towering wind machines, generating kilowatts to spread throughout the landscape for our obese consumption. Each one appeared almost as a living sculpture, each huge blade a graceful curve seeking the slightest breeze wandering by. In contrast was an area of eastern Colorado, where the temperature in my car registered a stunning 113 degrees, and initiated a comment from me that is unsuitable for mixed company.

Throughout my trip, I was preoccupied with new potential health issues seemingly appearing on a daily basis. The neuropathy in my feet and legs is lessening my leg strength and balance, which greatly interfered with my attempt to play tennis with one of my former classmates. I could only stumble awkwardly around the court; me, who used to play in tournaments and sometimes even won! I tried to ignore those conditions along with the continual arthritic pain in my back and neck; my golf game appeared to be on the mend during the front nine when, after a rocky first three holes, I finished out that side with a few pars and a couple of birdies.  Alas, some fatigue reared its ugly head, and I had trouble keeping the right hand out of the shots, the right hand being the source of most problems in the golf swing. What to do? I emailed my doctor immediately and we decided to do a complete onslaught on this citadel, my body, whose failing infrastructure rivals all the bridges and highways in the nation. Tomorrow I begin a series of tests with a neurologist, hopefully to determine that I’m not saddled with one of those diseases that is only known by a cluster of capital letters. Maybe the use of letters instead of the actual name ameliorates the evil that besets the victim.

My computer, formerly blamed for sending out malware, has been cleansed in spirit and memory of the nasty interlopers, and is ready to re-enter society. I’m writing this on my laptop, but am anxious to begin using my newly-blessed desktop for my writing. As a friend observed, the writing process is cathartic, and provides a sense of calm and pleasure as the words flow from the fingertips to the keys. Just another step in my coming of age.

Always Be Happy!                                                                        🙂                                                                          To Our Youth!

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