Patti and I are sitting by the pool at Terranea resort on a “staycation’ for the day. We had a week-end out of town planned that got canceled so we made arrangements for a spa day. For our “staycation” we saw “Top Gun, Maverick”. The movie triggered youthful ambitions of mine that got canceled. As a child I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot. I have some regrets of my life; like Tom Cruise’s role and the characters in the classic books, “Red Badge of Courage” and “Heart of Darkness” (which I have read recently). All three stories, four with mine, are tormented with ghostly apparitions of canceled or thwarted ambitions
Cowardice, failure, major mistakes with consequences are catalogued in my history as well as the characters in the aforementioned stories. Mine are not as eloquently transcribed as Stephen Crane’s, Joseph Conrad’s or Tom Cruise’s but nevertheless just as imprisoning in the lifelong behavioral effects.
Maureen is the Terranea waitress assigned to this pool area of the spa.
She comes over and says, “May I get you anything?”
It’s 12:00 sun, directly overhead, the spa overlooks the Ocean, we are seated on a double chaise lounge, a breeze keeps the seagulls aloft, the restaurant provides an aroma of bar-b-que, I have a small table to place my computer and glass of water on. Patti and I are both dressed beachy. I am thinking of my past failures.
“Oh, I’m sorry Maureen”, I say, “I did not hear what you said….lost in my thoughts here”.
“No problem sir”, she says, “Just asking if I can get you anything”
“Jeez, I’m fine right now”, I say, ”Thanks for offering”.
After watching Top Gun, I remember how I wanted to be a jet pilot when I was a youngster. I also wanted to be Superman and the President.
I enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 19 because it was the only service where you could fly without a college degree if you qualified. I washed out, failed, in boot camp and spent 4 years in the Marines working on aircraft ground crews.
My high school football coach wanted me to play quarterback. I played 3 plays, fumbled all three times and he never asked again.
I was elected president of the Presbyterian Church young person’s group on my first visit to the group. I never went back.
I cheated on every test I took in high school and lied about my smoking and drinking.
I quit my job at Elektra Records rather than admit I did not know the digital equipment and I was too afraid to admit how afraid I was to ask for help.
In fact, in the whole litany of failures of which there are more, it never occurred to me, at the time, to ask for help or training.
My hero John Wayne did not ever need any help and I learned that “children should be seen and not heard”. With these two dictums well programmed into my youthful hard drive, a prison of confining self-images was formed.
Ghost’s in the form of parents, coaches, drill instructors, girl-friends, parental figures all have the ability to subtly and powerfully haunt and influence behavior. Ghosts, apparitions, hauntings, invisible energy, all the yesterdays that no longer exist, really.
There are reasons Stephen Crane and Joseph Conrad wrote classic tales in our culture.
Patti leans over to me on the chaise lounge and says:
“Have I told you how much I love you?”
It’s now 2:00, the sun is hot, we are in bathing suits and sun block, water-glass is empty, computer needs charging. Chlorine smell wafts across the gentle breeze. Patti is smiling, she is beautiful, we are healthy, wealthy and strong, my heart is tingling. All is well in the world, including our wins and losses that led us here.
“Of course, you told me, my love, we are blessed for sure…..you just drove away those ghosts that have been haunting me since the movie. Thank you. I love you more.”