I spent not nearly enough time today in my thinking chair on the back patio thinking what it would be like to give up my compulsive behavior. I hasten to state that I am not OCD. I just have always been fussy about neatness and orderliness and things like that. I’ve been pretty intense since the light bulb went on around 10th grade. That’s when I remember taking my school work really seriously for the first time. A little late maybe, but in time for me to start thinking about my life and where I was headed,
Indeed, the problem at the time was that I had no idea where was “where” and I had no compass to lead me there anyway. My thoughts hovered around teaching or practicing law. I wasn’t too enthused about either one, but there was nothing else at the time that remotely sparked any of my wires.
For a good number of years I really wanted to become an airline pilot. I liked airplanes, loved going to the airport and thought being able to drive a huge building in the air would be one hell of an adventure. The only issue that stopped me from pursuing this career path was my math skills. I struggle with math and most techy-type stuff, exactly the kinds of tasks you’d expect a worthy airline pilot to be able to astutely handle, especially at a critical time.
Even while I was applying to colleges I still wasn’t sure exactly what studies I should pursue. But thankfully the schools sent catalogs and I went through them page by page. That’s when it happened—the big magical moment when fireworks exploded and my body filled with adrenaline. I was going through the catalog Penn State sent me and there it was, taking up most of a page: “Major in Broadcasting.” I never knew you could actually go to college and take courses in broadcasting. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. That’s why I listened to the radio all the time—I loved it. Wow, I could go to school and learn how to work in radio. What a concept. Why didn’t I think of that? It was a sensational moment of epiphany and I’ve never forgotten it.
So I spent the next four years at Penn State and after I graduated I got a job in public radio. My career had launched and while it went down a somewhat rocky path, it took me to retirement and beyond. Beyond…that’s where I am right now. Consequently, I have time to sit and ponder the trip I’ve been on. I have come to realize my compulsiveness has been along for the ride the entire time. In fact, it probably drove most of the way. As my chauffeur, it took me down some roads I had no business going. But then, almost as often, it took me touring through places a lot more amenable to my backseat driving.
I should have grabbed the wheel more often, is what I am thinking now as I look back…or at least applied the brakes. So on this day that my odometer turns 71, I’ve decided to make the attempt to work on my compulsiveness. I should maybe park the damn car and get out and walk a little more, or at least take my foot off the pedal. I suspect I should spend some considerable time and effort working on this goal…but here I go again being compulsive.