The Final Word
a brief commentary on life and events
by John Johnson
Reprinted from V7N1, June 1994
This is probably just another excuse for me to ramble. I will never finish, I just want to cover pondering that are bouncing around in my head. You know those voices... I mean, um, thoughts... yeah, that's the ticket.
Where do I start? I guess it's important to point out that last year (the year we didn't have a newsletter) was the tenth anniversary of PPSA. From the perspective of ten years of college, that seems like an eternity ago. Yet, some things seem as clear as if they happened only yesterday.
I remember, it was the Fall of 1993, I was a sophomore, and I had just acquired housing in the form of a nice big house at 209 Clark Street. Me and the Nor were roommates from day one in the Wadsworth Hall dorm. We moved to a suite as sophomores, but we wanted our own place. This house became known as the Polkinghorne Palace, because of a plaque on the wall behind the Jeffrey Jones barnwood-bar, which proclaimed Wilfred Polkinghorne as a distinguished professor. The Nor and I were writing the constitution for the Michigan Student Collegiate Coalition†and we decided to form our own club at MTU. The PPSA Constitution became a work of art. I will admit the Nor had his good days. The club went on to show films on campus. In fact PPSA broke ground with the decision to show porn on campus. We were the first and only group to show Deep Throat at MTU. Of course, PPSA went on to do other things of great import†but we will never forget our humble beginnings.
Has the world lived up to our expectations? Back when we were in High School, and then College, we had high expectations. We demanded what was right; justice†and we knew good from bad. We had a clear vision of the future, and how great it would be. Black was black, white was white, and there was no gray area in between. We would finish college, get great jobs, have a great family and become famous and rich along the way. Maybe we were a little naive. I sure want a house and a great family. Hell, I'd like to start out with a woman who loves me. I want to be kind and loving and have her return that love to me. I want to take trips, and have great adventures. I want to publish two newsletters a year. I hope these expectations aren't too high. Of course, in another 10 years I'll have to reevaluate it all and only than, with the benefit of hindsight, can I decide.
We've all had heros. When we were kids we saw great sports stars, and film stars as bigger than life gods. I never paid attention to O.J. Simpson at the time, but I think he's a good example of how we make our own idols, and below the surface come to realize they are just people too. O.J., Michael Jordan, Pete Rose, Ronald Reagan.... The media and even political parties, for that matter, deify our leaders and role-models. They are placed on the same pedestal as great philosophical ideals. To shine as a light, to live as an example†but eventually we see that they are only human. History, however, will doubtless restore our heros and leaders to their former status. At some point, after a number of years, a few buzzwords will be all that remains. Lincoln was a great president, but this generation sees him through the rose-colored glasses of history. Will O.J. be remembered as a great sports icon, or as a man who was accused of (and may have committed) a heinous crime? Does it really matter?
I photograph to remember. My view of the past, my method of preserving history†as I have seen it†is to write the PPSA Magazine (a.k.a. the Newsletter). I have taken many dozen photographs since getting my new camera last Fall. I am amazed at how few pictures I have of my family from when I was growing up. I think that as a person gets older they mellow out and want to remember good times, at least this has been the case for me. I don't think my good times have ended (although Los Alamos might make me think that at times.) I want to plan great PPSA road trips, and have untold adventures. I don't take pictures so that other people can look at them when I am dead and say, "That's what his life was." I do it so that I can figure out who I am. Now and tomorrow and ad infinitum. I don't want to forget. I want to relish the mistakes and the bad times, as well as the good. I want to come to terms with them so that I can grow as a person. In some ways it is a very cathartic thing to do. But basically, it keeps me on course. I realize that I don't have the same goals as when I was a kid, but I don't want to forget what I liked and what I did and what I thought as I grew up and became who I am at this moment. It's all important.
I've gotten older and fatter and more confused at just who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. Didn't you think that when you were 30 years old that you'd have it all figured out. Life would be well defined. I don't know what the next move is in my search for a real job. My career path is all messed up. I know that I don't want to take the traditional path that most physics grads do. In fact, if I want a job, I can't do that†since there are no jobs in physics. No, I like science, but that's not me. I want to be more creative. I want to be in a great town or city where I can really live. Maybe I can meet a great woman and lose a few pounds (not necessarily in that order) and start to do a little growing up. Then again, maybe no one ever grows up. They just seem to from the ever changing perspective of a child. I'm certainly mellowing out, taking it easier, enjoying myself. I am relearning social skills and redefining my priorities. I still get mad at people who speed up when they're going downhill and slow down when they start to climb a hill. But I'm trying. Maybe I'll know better when the 10th anniversary of the newsletter comes around in 1996....
Last Updated 04/14/95.© 1996 PPSA