Now that “Change Rising” is out (click here to purchase), there has been something I’ve been asked by quite a few people over the last few years, being “why do you write about your college newspaper days? Don’t you have something better to write about?”
Here is the answer: yes, I do have plenty better to write about. I could write about politics, or humor, or how greenhouse gasses are destroying our planet, or how global warming is a forbidden word for employees of the State of Florida. I could muse about President Obama’s many failings, or how the religious right has been so out-of-control that many want our nation to become a theocracy. I could go on, and on, and on about the evils of smoke and drinks, or the virtues of weight loss and being au natural. Then again, I could go into a diatribe about how dangerous botox shots are, or why American Idol won’t last another season. Of course, I could get into the inane dialogues about college football, the recent Final Four, baseball season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or the latest scandal in football. There is, naturally, always the easiest of the easy – the latest “gate” scandal, or a discussion on the degradation of race relations in our country.
Frankly, I’m kind of tired of all that crap right now. I need a vacation, and mental junk food. Reminiscing on my college newspaper days is one of the ways I escape. It’s how I self-medicate, and how I manage to remind myself that, at one time, I was a person who was respected in most circles, feared in others, and just a general pain-in-the-neck to everyone for good reasons, rather than an annoyance for some failure I happen to commit on a near-daily basis anymore.
Back when I was an Editor (don’t worry, no “uphill, in the snow, both ways” speeches here), my college was going through much of the same racial tensions we are enduring nationally today. It was, simultaneously, an exciting, fearful and irritating time to be a student at my college. Yes, newsvans and satellite trucks were on our campus, covering the silliness that was happening. People were jawing with each other over stupid stuff, important stuff, and stuff which nobody really gave a flip about after the school year was over. We were in the heat of the moment, and we enjoyed it for all it was worth. For me, it was a wild ride, an adrenaline rush, and a mental rash, all in one messy package.
Funny thing about that – the fact it was a messy package is why I look back on it so fondly. There was absolutely nothing that could be pigeonholed into “black and white” terms, either literally or figuratively. There are those who rail against talk about how the world is “nuanced,” but that is because it’s an uncomfortable truth. I learned that years ago – nothing is really as it seems, the truth is always more complex than we make it out to be, or simpler than what we contend it to be. The word “absolute” truly is word which is matter of being in the eye of the beholder. It took a critical eye to see through the muck, cut through the fog of political and social passions, and keep an ear to the ground and an eye on the books. My adrenals were working overtime and I was fairly certain I had enough of a surplus of testosterone that, had a means of distilling it from my blood on the cheap was available, I could have pitched “natural male enhancement” years before it became fashionable.
Today, I am into my forties, and don’t look back on that time as wistfully as I would have thought. Granted, I have less hair (it’ll grow back, tends to get pulled when I’m stressed) and I’m a few pounds overweight, but that’s all transitive. What makes life great is that, despite every challenge and problem and crisis thrown our way, as long as we choose to keep on moving forward, a new day generally awaits us. So rather than it be “throwback Thursday” and I scrounge for a photograph of newspaper clipping from a million years ago, I’ve chosen to make Thursday about moving forward, about tossing it ahead, and laughing at my own silliness from back then. There will much more adrenalin for me to produce, and I’m my current circumstantial lull will ebb, only to find me in the flow of excitement, adventure and, heaven willing, fortune. Either way, I wanted to tell you all why I write about my college newspaper days, so the real answer is this.
I write about what I know, and that’s what I know, and love. It’s the truth, and I’d rather be honest with you and myself.