What do you think about when you hear the word, "retro?" Perhaps a time when artists played instruments on vinyl? When basketball shorts were actually short? Or maybe your grandmother's flower-printed couch that would make your skin itch for hours after a long nap?
I recently entered my fifth decade and the nostalgia of years gone by has slapped me upside the head! Long gone are the days of rewinding a cassette with your pencil or drinking out of the water hose on a hot summer day. I find myself going through old photos and remembering my youth and all of the things I took for granted.
Specifically, my daredevil-ish view of mortality. My friends and I scoffed at the word "danger," mocking death and anxiously awaiting a friend to cry out, "Hey, watch this!"
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
- Took the Camaro without permission and the carburetor locked up at 70 MPH, causing me to spin out on a rural backroad.
- Hit on a girl my age (16) and ignited rage from her 30-year-old boyfriend who didn't care for my flowing mullet hanging out at the window of her friend's Pontiac.
- Drove a Willys Jeep around the farm, throwing gas bombs out like a scene from Red Dawn (original version).
- Lots of time spent at the cave... enough on that one, lawyer says shut up.
- Jumped over a fallen log and heard a rattle that froze me in my tracks.
- Scirums Bluff, 80 feet high and mixed with skipping school, showing off for girls, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
- Showing off for girls again and burning out my 76 Camaro in the rain. You can imagine what happened next.
- More spin-outs in that Camaro...
- Skipped out on a friend's wedding, only to find out the person I was supposed to ride with was t-boned on the way... on the passenger side...
I came close to death more times that I should admit, but I also learned a few lessons along the way.
- Never look back on life and say "I wish I tried..." Do it now! I grew up thinking that I was a pretty decent athlete and wanted nothing more than to play college basketball. I tried out for the JUCO team and guess what? I failed. But I have never wondered "what if?"
- Keep up with the old friends that did all of those stupid things with you! These are the friends who will be there for the ups and downs of life. They will remind you of your immortality and tell you to suck it up and move on.
- Connect with old friends that you've fallen out of touch with. That old friend who just came to mind... the parents of the friend who was more like a sibling than a classmate... maybe even a teacher who had an impact. Attend those reunions and befriend the ones you never knew well. It's incredible to see how life turns out differently than we expected.
So how do 17 near death experiences tie into my Retro MoFo empire (hey, it's MY empire and I'm choosing to age like Darth Vader). "Retro" is really about reflection on the details that made life golden... retrospective on a life well-lived with great friends, good times that you survived, and the best music.
Now I am grown with a wife, kids, mortgage, and more adult responsibilities than I ever saw coming. But this is also an incredible era of memory-making! I'm just a bit more focused on living for tomorrow, rather than tempting death.