It’s been 34 years now…I dropped out of school 34 years ago this month. I was right in the middle of my sophomore year at Texas Tech. One day in October of 1981 I just stopped going to class. I suspect you are already forming assumptions. Most likely your assumptions are correct. Yes….a girl was involved. I was seeing an “older woman.” I was 19 and she was approaching 21. She had a job in a bank. And she dressed up to go to work every day. I was impressed. I was so wrapped up in my relationship with the older woman that I lost interest in accounting principles and business calculus. And if the truth be known, I hated being a marketing major anyhow.
Not long after I stopped making regular appearances in my classes the relationship with the older woman came to a screeching halt. She continued to work at the bank and I found myself feeling lost. I concluded that I was not “college material.” I took on a second job at an auto parts wholesale distributorship. I loved tinkering with cars, so it was a good fit. Every single day without exception my co-workers urged me to figure out a way to get back in school. They were old guys in their 40’s…What did they know?
The weeks went by quickly. As the leaves fell from the trees that fall, I wondered what my future held. And then one brisk day my mother inquired about my future. Now mothers have to step lightly with their 19 year old sons, when it comes to such matters. She proceeded to gently inquire about my plans. I told her I hated marketing! Her response: “that’s ok.” Now that threw me off balance. My former 2nd grade teacher mother was all about academics. And then she asked me a key question: “what do you think you are good at?” I started to say: “meeting girls that work in banks.” But I quickly thought better of it. My mother was also a descendant of Attila the Hun. I told her I was pretty good at public speaking. I was an accomplished debater in high school. (I was hoping she was not bring up the fact that I had been kicked off the debate team my senior year for disciplinary reasons.) She actually chose to overlook that fact! She told me to return to school and major in one of the communications degrees. I replied: “what can you do with such a degree?” And she then said: “who cares?” My MOTHER said “who cares!” She went on to say…“Do something you like!”
That conversation changed the direction my life took. It’s that simple. Do I think that there was divine intervention in that dialogue? I really do believe that to be the case. I was back in school when the spring semester began in January of 1982. I went to class like clockwork and avoided banks.
As the leaves fall off the trees and the weather starts to turn cooler, my mind wonders back to October of 1981.
I still remember what it felt like to be unsettled and without direction. And I feel the weight of responsibility as a parent. How can I possibly imitate my amazing mother? She died almost exactly ten years after that interchange in 1981. On this October day, I am wondering how I can emulate what she did for me nearly 34 years ago…Someone is feeling discouraged, lost, and without direction today. Someone broke up with a girl that works at a bank. What will you contribute to their life, as the leaves continues to fall?