Life is one big ocean. A vast sea with depth fathoms, broad horizons, and choppy waves at times. Challenges are infinite, choices at times seem limited: finite. As we age and grow we see more variables. Hindsight is twenty/twenty. The older I get the more I understand this. We are all ships on this ocean. We have the misfortune and fortune of sailing this ocean together. These are not ships passing in the night. These are ships passing, colliding, and fighting with each other. There are some happy squadrons of collaborative souls who pilot their ships through life with a spirit of goodwill.
Unfortunately some people meet at the wrong place at the wrong time. My ship analogy mentioned the misfortune and fortune of sailing this ocean together. Well some people are not ready to meet each other and some people meet each other too late. Our views change, our lives change, and above all as we age: we change. Change is one of the view guaranteed things in life alongside death. I’ve met many people at the right time and I’ve met some people at the wrong time. In one instance: it was my fault, in another instance it was the social system’s fault and a combination of faults. A case study is below, but first an introduction to one of the subjects the case study: my old self.
I was a bubbly, comedic, socially awkward, overweight, yet confident individual. I was passionate about history, books, science fiction, and video games. In the prison like system of the American high school where athletics rank you higher on the social ladder I discovered too late that I was on the wrong path and I had to better and reinvent myself to survive among fellow prisoners in a system that is not designed to educate anyone to be an independent free-thinker , but to limit one to cliques and tracks. We all know the stereotypes: the jocks, the geeks, the band kids, etc… The first two years of my high school ‘sentence’ were spent in a poor fashion, and it was during my first two years I met the first subject of this case study.
The Subject: This guy was from a poorer neighborhood in my small town. I don’t know much about his parents. He played football, he played other sports too, but I’ve long since forgot them, and I’ve not perused through a yearbook in years from that place. What he’s doing now is unknown. But I do know from a source that he is a frequent patron of my town’s ‘redneck bar.’ I don’t know what choices he’s made in his life. It would be easy for me to research. But I’ve not the patience or the time to perform that service on someone who know longer has any say or matter to my life. I learned that his upbringing wasn’t the best. He came from a home that was on the verge of breaking up. I don’t know when his parents divorced either. My point is he had a miserable life. That bravado, that machismo paired with his athletic participation helped him easily fill the archetypal high school jock stereotype.
When I met him at the wrong time in my life, I had no clue of his family life. I was his antithesis. I came from a strong home with a good marriage. I came from reasonable affluence, both of my parents being civil servants and later independent merchants. I now know why he was such an asshole to anybody different than him. Is he an asshole now? I have no clue. I really don’t give a damn. He’s out in another part of this big ocean and so am I.
He was likely not used to a happy confidence, a fearlessness, as my wife puts it. She and I briefly went out a few times in high school. You could call us quasi-high school sweethearts. But that is an aside. People are scared of what they don’t understand. In my job I observe scared people. And when people are scared they’ll behave irrationally. Good people can quickly become dangerous when scared. Take my advice: keep your distance.
In a high school setting you have adolescents in cliques which are equivalent to tribes. When outsiders are present, tribes or cliques generally manifest xenophobia. An outsider in high school is as hated as a refugee from a war torn nation. The American high school is rather similar to an apartheid nation in that regard. Whoever said high school was the best time in a person’s life either had a very short life or they were just perpetuating a myth to get some kind of sick vengeance. Much to that myth maker’s chagrin I can tell anyone that once you leave any kind of schooling and you’ve graduated that high school or college, or whatever your educational level is your life gets better.
Later on I played sports at high school. I got to be invited to interesting parties, long since forgotten by the host and hostesses probably. I was immature at the onset of high school and at the exit I emerged a malcontent (of the soft type) who was ready to pursue my goals in life in earnest. If this person and I would have been meant to be friends I would have needed more time to mature. I didn’t miss much really though. I may have met him at the wrong time. But there are some people who you can never be compatible with. And I’ll discuss that later.
Analysis: Good riddance? This is cyberspace, people are rude here. I’ll be politically correct and polite: maybe. I don’t miss this person at all, just like those no-good game show host teachers who were far from the quality or caliber of this one mentioned here. But going back to my title, that version of myself was incompatible with him. That can be agreed on by the evidence dismissed if the reader excuses the self-reported nature of this. However, would we be compatible today? Rhett Butler says this best. Let’s now sail away to our proper destinations now.