“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller
Time is uniquely human. Animals don’t care, don’t know. They eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are tired. The Earth, time means nothing. The Universe, same. But as humans, we are counting the clock since the day we are born until we die. And even though every microsecond on the clock is exactly the same for everyone, what happens to each of us in time is as different as our DNA.
We all have a Time Machine in our mind. We can travel back to any time in our life, and imagine the future going forward. Unfortunately, the Time Machine keeps many of locked in the past, or worried about the future, instead of being mindful, which is living and enjoying the present. I am as guilty, if not more so than anyone. But there is one time in the past I enjoy going to in my Time Machine, the 70’s. (That’s the 1970’s).
January 1st, 1970. The beginning of the Seventies. I was a junior in high school, wire-rim glasses and hair almost to my waist, a hot girlfriend who had moved to my hometown from California, and driving what is now and has been my favorite car, a 1970 bright blue Plymouth Road Runner with a Hearst shifter, huge rims, a racing stripe down the hood, and a horn that went beep-beep. The Seventies were starting pretty good for a small town farm boy in Northern Minnesota.
The Vietnam War was on everyone’s mind, especially those of us boys turning 18. Yes, there was the draft, and I was the last of it. I remember listening to the radio when they drew and read the numbers for your Birthday. The lower the number, the more likely you had to go into the military, which wasn’t revered and respected like it is now. My number was 250 something, which meant I probably wouldn’t have to go, and I didn’t. The draft ended that year.
Music was everything. Even though we had to listen to it on eight tracks, bands like Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Quicksilver, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and a hundred other popular bands and songs filled the air. We were our music. Disco came along in the mid 70’s, and I loved it. I was living on a sailboat with a girl I met in Key West, Florida when it started. It followed me back to Minnesota, and the clubs were alive with dancing under mirrored balls and lighted floors. I wore platform shoes and flared plaid pants and even taught Disco dancing with a girl I was dating for a while.
Classic movies like Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Superman, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest made us dream and imagine. We played Pac Man in the bars, drank 50 cent drinks, gas was 25 cents a gallon (at least until the oil crisis) and a pack of smokes was also a quarter. I worked part-time in a Men’s clothing store, so of course, I had a couple of Leisure Suits too. Johnny Carson was the King of Late Night Television.
My parents were still alive. What I wouldn’t give to be able to drive up to our home and see my Mom smiling out the kitchen window. She loved to cook. Or walking next door to the farm and seeing my Dad doing what he loved. He loved being a farmer.
Eventually, I married a hometown girl after numerous girlfriends and dozens of cross-country trips. I settled into a working married life, driving truck and working with my parents on their farm. I also bought a 400-acre farm and had tractors and all that fun stuff. As the decade wore on, the economy sucked, gas got expensive, and jobs were hard to find and interest rates soared, but it taught me that none of that stuff matters. You make your own way in life.
The 70’s either defined me, or I defined the 70’s, I’m not sure. It was a decade of change for a boy of 18 to a man of 28. Those ten years probably created more memories than the other 50 for me. It was a time of discovery and change. We often say if we could go back and do it again, this would be the time for me. Would have I changed anything, of course. I made a lot of mistakes like everyone else. Saying you have no regrets is a whole lot easier than meaning it. I think a lot about the choices I made, and how my life would have different had I chosen differently. I hope to impart some of that wisdom to my kids, not that they will listen to any of it. And in a way I agree, you learn by doing. I just hope the lesson they learn is that everything you do today, is tomorrow’s memory.
December 31st, 1979. The Seventies have ended. So has my marriage. The next decade brought a lot of change too, from moving and selling my farm, and eventually getting the occupation which I stayed with for 30 years. Nothing ever came close to the experiences I had in those carefree years of the 70’s. Well, they weren’t all carefree I agree. I had plenty of tough emotional, physical, and financial times too. They were a huge deal then, but looking back I have tempered them over the years.
Now when I hear an old song, one with a strong emotional attachment, or happen upon an old photograph of an instant frozen forever in time or talk to an old friend, I get in my Time Machine and travel back. I have had a wonderfully full life, and feel grateful for every minute of it. I feel I have lived two lifetimes, one lifetime in those ten years of the 70’s, and another the rest of the time. Sometimes I think about all that happened to me at that time and am amazed how much there was. Now ten years go by in the blink of an eye. Maybe the best is yet to come, but I will always be connected to the 70’s.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”