Monday, January 1, 2024

Time....Changes - 2024/01/01

I'll call it a year of a new awareness and a more substantial appreciation of changes over time.  This autumn I attended my very first ever high school reunion, my 50th and I'm still not quite sure whatever it was that made me go.  Even looking back to when I said that "Yes" still almost shocks me.  I believe that I'm repeating myself here but a very realistic measure of 50 years are the changes made to people....classmate Jeff said it best, "....we've morphed...".  There were only a handful of people in that large room of many faces that resembled the photos in my yearbook.  Watching, listening and feeling the mood in that crowd convinced me that for many, our high school years were a life highlight....I'm quite happy to not be in that same mindset.  My many years since have been so much richer in every meaningful way.

At the end of September, retirement was a convenient, logical and straightforward way to leave a job that I had become extremely tired of, the most drawn-out employment exit that I've ever made and I've made many.  This wasn't a 2 week notice, rather 6+ months of so, so looking forward to "9/28 my last day".  It wasn't a big pot of money to draw from that made that late winter announcement shared.

My first W2 was received 51 years ago and there have been 26 (first time I've ever counted!) different companies listed in the EMPLOYER box since then.  There were teen farm jobs early on that weren't reported and later after Retirement #1, late 70's, there were a couple years worth of day jobs in south TX and northern CA, a friend's bicycle shop where payment was that blue bike on the wall....

This my 2nd retirement, my 1st occurred after a couple of years working in my machining trade, wanderlust, dissolution and a fear of 'settling down' made me restless, a decision that I've never regretted but is one more link in a chain of many that now has me, after a couple months of Real Social Security retirement finds me at a local part time job.  I'm receiving some spending money and getting paid to exercise, for now a very workable, 4 day/week arrangement.

I noticed one day recently that a 'hit' in my blog analytics had been made to a Post that I made almost 11 years ago in Coop's Corner and I'm going to Copy it here....

This, from one of my very favorite books........

Life is a long walk forward through the crowded cars of a passenger train, the bright world racing past beyond the windows, people on either side of the aisle, strangers whose stories we never learn, dear friends whose names we long remember, and passing acquaintances whose names and faces we take in like a breath and soon breathe away.

There is a windy perilous passage between each car and the next, and we steady ourselves and push across the iron couplers clenched beneath our feet.  Because we are fearful and unsteady crossing through wind and noise, we more keenly feel the train rock under our legs, feel the steel rails give just a little under the weight, as if the rails were tightly stretched wire and there were nothing but air beneath them.

So many cars, so many passages.  For you there may be the dangerous passage of puberty, the wind hot and wild in your hair, followed by marriage, during which for a while you walk lightly under an infinite blue sky, then the rushing warm air of the birth of your first child, and then, so soon it seems, a door slams shut behind you, and you find yourself out in the cold where you learn that the first of your parents has died.

But the next car is warm and bright, and you take a deep breath and unbutton your coat and wipe your glasses.  People on either side, so generous with their friendship, turn up their faces to you, and you warm your hands in theirs.  Some of them stand and grip your shoulders in their strong fingers, and you gladly accept their embraces, though you may not know them well.  How young you feel in their arms.

And so it goes, car after car, passage to passage, as you make your way forward.  The roadbed seems to grow more irregular under the wheels as you walk along - poor workmanship you think - and to steady yourself, you put your hands on people's shoulders.  So much of the world, colorful as flying leaves, clatters past beyond the windows while you try to be attentive to those you move among, maybe stopping to help someone up from their seat, maybe pausing to tell a stranger about something you saw in one of the cars through which you passed, was it just yesterday or the day before?  Could it have been a week ago, a month ago, perhaps a year?

The locomotive is up ahead somewhere, and you hope to have a minute's talk with the engineer, just a minute to ask a few questions of him.  You're pretty sure he'll be wearing his striped cap and have his red bandanna around his neck, badges of his authority, and he'll have his elbow crooked on the sill of the open window.  How impassively he will be gazing at the passing world as if he's seen it all before.  He knows just where the tracks will take us as they narrow and narrow and narrow ahead to the point where they seem to join.

But there are still so many cars ahead, the next and the next and the next, clatter to clatter to clatter, and we close a door against the wind and find a new year, a club car brightly lit, fresh flowers in vases on the tables, green meadows beyond the windows, and lots of people who, together - stranger, acquaintance, and friend - turn toward you and, smiling broadly, lift their glasses.

From Local Wonders
by Ted Kooser 

I have more train content coming, hopefully soon in the New Year.  As far as things go here in our little valley, we are happy, healthy and mostly content as 2024 begins and we wish the very same for all of you.  We'd all prefer Peace so lets hope that those that choose to fight will find good reasons not to.

Happy New Year!


  1. Happy New Year to you and yer's.... 2024 will have epic adventures.... :)

  2. Happy New Year to you and yours Coop! I hope your son Ben got to spend the holidays at Campbell and not deployed? Lovely passage from "Local Wonders", great metaphorical vehicle for life.

  3. And to your family Dom! We were gratified that Ben and Bri were able to spend time in MN, almost a week and a half. I enjoy Ted's rich use of our language, not a surprise that he's a poet.