Einstein’s theory of relativity includes something called “Time Dilation.”
I’m about as far from being a scientist as one can possibly be, but the way that I understand time dilation, two clocks show different times when they’re affected by gravity or velocity. A clock on earth would move faster than one in orbit. The faster you go, the slower time moves.
Supposedly, this theory has been proven through multiple tests, but my own test also bears out his results.
As evidence, I present the fact that it seems as if I just graduated from high school, but the calendar indicates almost 40 years have passed.
I have never been in orbit, save for a few unaccounted for evenings in the ’70s, yet Einstein’s theory seems to be valid.
I subscribe to a number of local newspapers, and recently, as occurs annually, each edition contained ads and articles congratulating recent graduates.
I scanned the information under each person’s photo. The students, now graduates, were preparing for the next leg of their journey.
I remembered what it was like to be facing that pivotal moment in life.
Graduation night for me and my classmates was hot and muggy. Rain forced us into the un-airconditioned gymnasium, where I thought about current events instead of listening to our commencement speaker.
1980 was a tumultuous year in America. Those of us standing in that gym wearing our purple caps and gowns were filled with personal uncertainty.
Vietnam was still visible in our collective rear-view mirror; 52 of our fellow citizens were being held hostage in Iran; unemployment and interest rates were rising; and each of us were just minutes away from being foisted into the world, no longer as a class, but as individuals.
I’d doubt that many, if any of us, thought much about it at that moment, but we were about to embark on a path filled with a lot of guesses, guidance and thankfully God, that would take us to the places we were meant to go.
We would make a lot of mistakes, enjoy a lot of successes, feel the warmth of love and the pain of loss. It wouldn’t be the first time we’d felt any of these things, but it would be the first time we’d felt them without each other.
Many of those I stood with that night, I had also stood with on the first day of school. As Lyndon Johnson was wrapping up his stint in the Oval Office, Henry Platt became one of my first grade friends. In Mrs. Walker’s class, Henry and I learned where the letters that made words came from.
Mrs. Walker would explain to us at the beginning of a new class that “Mother Alphabet” had had another letter.
Henry and I would take our big, red, Husky Pencils and copy down the newest letter onto our Big Chief tablets. Henry always caught on faster than I did when it came to learning to write.
I would go home each day and tell my mom that, “Mother Alphabet had another letter today!”
My mom always acted excited, but I’m guessing that she probably was thinking that Father Alphabet needed to take a vacation.
Henry was one of my first friends, but there would be many others over the next dozen years. I can’t name every school pal here. I wish I could. What I can say here is that every single classmate of mine shaped, in some way, who I am today.
Jeff Sikes demonstrated that it is possible for a child to be far smarter than most adults, without hurting the adults’ feelings.
Adam Cummings became my good friend. He was everything I wasn’t. He was cool, athletic and a girl magnet. But, Adam and I shared a sense of humor and a love of music and cool cars.
Scotty Davis was an entrepreneur before I even knew that word. He and his brother, Andy, were always coming up with some way to make money. Raking leaves, mowing yards and buying and selling motorcycles were just some of the things I learned could be more than just a quick buck; they could be businesses.
Doug Daniel was the bass player in his and my first rock band.
Steve Scarborough helped me get into my first paying rock band.
Kirk Mounts showed me how to be the John Ritter of the class, before “Three’s Company” ever hit the airwaves.
Stanley Nations proved that it was possible for a 10th grade guy to date a 12th grade girl.
Lisa Pounds and Tammy Moon were two of my girl friends. That is how you write that a girl was your friend and not a romantic interest, isn’t it?
However, there were a handful of girls in my class who took pity on me and actually went out with me on dates. I’m guessing that they have special rewards waiting in the afterlife.
I’m sure that the recent graduates will one day look back at their time growing up the same way that I do: With clarity. They will see that all along the way, their classmates exhibited much of who they would be as adults.
My friends certainly did.
Henry Platt is now Dr. Henry Platt. Adam had a successful career and was active in his church before a disease took him a few years ago. Scotty became a successful businessman. Doug works in the paper manufacturing industry. Steve started a printing business. Kirk is now the town treasurer. Stanley is self-employed. The ladies from my class went on to find happiness in business and in life.
Einstein’s time dilation got one thing right: Clocks definitely move faster than seems possible here on earth. But, he left out the part about being able to go back in time.
Time travel is as easy as thinking about my classmates. And I visit them quite often.
Email John at firstname.lastname@example.org