By Steve Wecker
I recently turned 60 and while it was just another day, I found myself stopping to reflect. Sixty is one of those milestones where you look back on life and the journey to get here. I think about the world I grew up in and marvel at the changes. All those years ago, I could not have envisioned the world of today. In some ways it’s better—and in many ways worse.
When we were kids we practiced hiding under our desks because of the Russians. Now kids may have similar drills for frighteningly different reasons. Back in the day, we spent morning till night out in the woods and the fields of Lancaster, Pa. We climbed trees, played neighborhood-wide games of hide and seek. We played board games for hours with our friends and ran home when we heard the dinner bell calling us to supper. When I was young, you answered the phone because you had no idea who was on the other end. We had a thing called The Encyclopedia Britannica. Now they call it SIRI. We rode our bikes everywhere. We played in the dirt and came home with skinned knees and elbows. I remember watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights on our Zenith color console. When Tinkerbell flew across the screen and the colors lit the sky, it was magic.
In my journey through youth and adulthood I have seen the world travel at the speed of light. I remember when I saw the first personal computer. The first cell phone, flat screen TV, DVD. We watched the original Star Wars and marveled at the special effects. (I watched it again recently and it seems so antiquated now.) I went to high school in Columbia—I was in the first graduating class of Oakland Mills in 1975. There I learned that not everyone in the world was a short white guy who liked sports. I made friends who were different from me and that helped to shape who I was and what I wanted to be.
Then I became a husband and father. My children’s childhoods couldn’t be more different from mine, particularly growing up in Howard County where they learn to question everything. They faced a brand new set of challenges about the world. They discovered their own identities and learned to value the differences in others. I remember driving to school to pick my kids up on 9/11. For them, it was like the day that I remember when Kennedy was shot. The world would never be the same.
Indeed, in 60 years the world has changed. As I look back I am not sure that change, for change’s sake, is always a good thing. There is much about the world that I live in now that I think we need to correct. But life’s immutable truth is you don’t get it back. The best strategy is to live each day knowing that you get to spend that day living. I am still learning. I am still trying to be the best human being that I can be. I’ve made it through 60 years and with a little help, I hope I’ll get through few years more.
Steve Wecker is principle in the Wecker Hospitality Group, which owns several Howard County restaurants, including Iron Bridge and Cured. He adheres to Walt Disney’s principle: “Sometimes it’s fun to do the impossible.”