Thursday, February 16, 2006


When I walked down the isle on graduation day May 20th, 1968, I was certain my school days were over. I drove away and thoughts of that school faded from my mind like the image in my rearview mirror. I wanted to see what the world had to offer. I was proud and cocky, but I found out that opportunities were few for a kid who “thought” he knew it all. I managed to get a job with the Alabama Highway Department for the summer.
After graduation I lived at home with my parents. I decided that I wanted to go to college. My mother was delighted since no one else in my family had ever gone past high school. I enrolled at Jefferson State Junior College. In those days, Jefferson State had a bus…..and I didn't have a car so it was a natural choice.
I did well for the first few months until I learned just how much fun you could have at college. My grades soon fell like bird droppings on a freshly washed car.
Unfortunately for me was that my parents invented the NO PASS, NO PLAY rule long before they enforced it college athletics. I stayed in school, but I had to foot the bill. I quickly discovered that when you have to work your way through college, you don’t have as much time to party and you tend to do better than when going on someone else’s dime
After a stint in the Army and several job changes, I manage to graduate from Birmingham Southern College with a Master’s Degree in Business (1997) in a short twenty-nine years.
Since then, I have come to realize that college looks good on a resume, but most of my “real” learning came from making mistakes…..being bit on the butt
I now realize that an education does not make you “smart” and the lack of one does not make you “dumb”. I’ve found that you can learn a lot more by listening than by talking. I also discovered that no matter how hard you try, others will not love you until you love yourself.
I also learned that everyone is good at something. I went to elementary school with a young boy that was “slow” (the teacher’s words, not mine). He struggled with reading, writing, and math. He was different and he was the object of a lot of cruelty from schoolmates. But he was great with his pocketknife. At the age of ten years old, he could carve animals, fish, and birds from small pieces of wood. He could also draw pictures with his pencil that looked like black and white photographs. He never finished grammar school, but he was one of the kindest most talented people I ever knew.
I talked to him several years ago and he never “went far”, but he lives in a house that he built himself and he's debt free. He has a wife and kids who love him. He's happy.
I've invested a good portion of my life to school and I don't regret it. It's the path I chose but I have come to realize that the more I learn the more I realize I don't know squat.
The best education any one could hope for is to learn to be happy with yourself.

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