It is hard to be young and decide what you want to be in life. What did you want to be? Some kids dream of being President of the United States, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, rock stars, etc. I remember when I was in the sixth grade what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a barber. We all know rich barbers who are raking in the money. Okay, you can tell that making lots of money wasn't the goal for me.
I remember my plans for the future upon graduation. I wrote it down and the Oskaloosa Independent printed it underneath my picture in the paper. I wanted to own my own grocery store. That is the great thing about being young. You can want something and not see all of the obstacles that are in the way. I had a flaw in my plan.
The good part was that I enjoyed working at the store. I liked helping the customers. I liked to work. I liked working in AC. My summer job before working at the grocery store was putting up hay. I hated it. It was hot. This made me love the grocery business more.
I remember how much I was paid when I went full time after high school. I made a salary of $100 a week. It was a forty hour work week. If I was able to save fifty dollars a week toward buying a store, it was going to take a long, long time. It didn't take too many years of working full time and scraping by to decide "Houston we got a problem." In life, not all of our goals will come true.
In high school I was a" B" student. My teachers liked to tell my Mom at the teacher conferences that I was capable of being a straight "A" student. Why would a teacher do that? Why would they want to get a mother's hopes up for nothing? Why couldn't they have said, " Jim's a little slow but he's doing the best that he can." It wouldn't have killed them to help me out.
I could do all my work at school and not study at home. This formula worked great for "B's. To get these magical "A's" I would need to study at home. I have no problem studying at school. My problem is with the last two words. "At home." My home was my sanctuary. A sacred place of rest, play, and TV. I must admit that there were a few times that I did take a book home. I had the best of intentions. Intentions are like noses, we all have them. All I achieved by taking my books home, were better cardio workouts.
I had two classes that I did pull in those magical "A's". Physical Education and Music. Neither of these classes involved homework. Maybe I could have went on to get a degree as a PE major. What do you do with a PE degree? Master how to do push ups? See how many reps you can lift with fifty pounds on the bar?
I remember in PE we were doing weight lifting. Our PE coach was also our football coach. I was not a football player. My sophomore year of high school, I was six feet tall. Are you ready for my weight? Weighing in, in this corner, from Oskaloosa, Kansas, in the red and blue gym shorts, Jim McCarter at one hundred and seventeen pounds. They say, "Muscle weighs more than fat." Or, maybe it's the other way around. "Fat weighs more than muscle." Well, I didn't have either.
In PE class, we had weights to lift upstairs beside the basketball court and more weights to lift in the locker room downstairs. We were all suppose to do so many reps at each station. After you had completed all of the stations you were allowed to go shoot baskets and wait for everyone else to finish lifting weights. I spotted a flaw in this program. One coach could not watch all the students upstairs and downstairs at the same time. If the coach was up, I went down. When he went downstairs, I was headed up. I should have used this idea to develop "the Stairmaster.
I wasn't doing much lifting at all. I was always one of the first students on the basketball court. The PE coach was my freshman basketball coach. His expectations were that all athletes go out for football. Needless to say, Football players were the starters and not me. The same football players that I could beat everyday one on one is basketball. Lifting those weights don't make you a better shooter. Swish!
Back to grades and the "A's" in music. It was easy. Yeah, I had been taking piano lessons for five or six years. Please re-read that last sentence. I said, I took piano lessons. Nowhere in that statement did I mention practicing piano. It is really hard to get good at something if you don't practice. My piano teacher was in cahoots with my school teacher. She said, " Jim has a great ear. He is capable of being a very good piano player." I had no problem playing the piano at piano lessons. I kind of enjoyed it. My problems was with practicing at home. I had to take my music books home and practice. Practice equals music homework. Foul!
Usually, Mrs. Jenkins would give me three or four songs a week. My job was to play each song four times a day. Four time four equals sixteen times. When I played I had an upbeat, fast paced delivery. I played all my songs fast so I could get done sooner. I wonder if this was how rock music got started? Looking back now, I feel bad. I even felt bad about it then. I wasted Mom and Dad's money on those lessons. This is what I learned from this experience. When I get older and I take lessons, I am going to practice. I will not waste my money and not practice. Lesson learned.
Last year I went to my forty year high school reunion. I told some of my classmates about my music, playing guitar, writing songs, etc. They probably thought," Where did this come from? He never played in the band. "They might have heard me talk about piano lessons but never heard me play. How did he go from a wanna be basketball star to wanting to be a songwriter?
Life sure doesn't turn out like we plan. People get married, divorced, find jobs, quit job, get fired, move out of state, have kids, get rich, get sick, lose their money, and it goes on and on. And somewhere, somehow in the midst of all this, I figure out, I want to be a songwriter.
Have you got yourself figured out? I saw a poster one time that had a gorilla on it with a puzzled look on his face. The caption underneath read, I figured out all of life's questions but then they changed the questions. In ten years, I might have to say, Oops. I got this wrong and that wrong. I've been wrong before just ask my wife.
I believe God directs our paths. I have seen him work in my life and in the lives of those I love. I will trust in him. That takes the stress out of the equation. I no longer have to write a hit song. I can write a song and God can make it a number one song. Or it might be just another song in my notebook. My job is to write it, after that, it is in his hands.