Golden: My How Time Flies

It’s time to Break It Down!

Life is an adventure. No matter the circumstances of one’s birth, men, and women the world over circumnavigate myriad circumstances after leaving the birth canal and entering the world and this thing we call life. Some are born into great wealth and prominence, while others are visited upon by abject poverty and insufficiency. However, it is fair to say being born poor does not make one destined to a life sentence squalor and destitution. Similarly, being born with a silver spoon in tow doesn’t carry a guarantee of permanence either. Hence, life is an adventure.

Given events in Buffalo this past weekend, I would normally write about the pervasiveness of gun violence, and our collective lack of will to insist upon and/or promulgate effective policy initiatives to eliminate mass shootings. After thinking about it a great deal, I decided not to make that the object of this week’s post. Instead, I am going to follow-up last week’s healthcare note with another personal essay.

A couple of weekends ago, Gwen and I traveled to eastern North Carolina, which is the part of the state where I was born. My wife and I spent the weekend darting between Kinston, New Bern, Greenville, and Belhaven. I have roots in or near all those places. Sometimes, contrary to Thomas Wolfe’s assertion, you can go home again. In fact, not only can you, but doing so is actually a good thing. Broadly speaking, we took advantage of the opportunity to hang out with my friends and family. The specific purpose of the trip though, was to attend my 50th High School Reunion.

As I have grown older, I have attended fewer class reunions. I made several of the early ones; 10, 20, and 25. Then I went AWOL until 40. I had not thought about it much since then. But as the date approached (Mothers Day Weekend every year), it dawned on me that 50 years is a pretty big number, a long time ago, and to paraphrase Deon Cole (Cole Hearted on Netflix), there’s not a lot of summers left. It seemed like a good idea to make the trip.

Covid has robbed most of us of so much. Some of us, life itself. I know over the past two and a half years, we have traveled less, entertained less, and attended fewer functions. Moreover, too many of the functions we did attend were funerals. We missed a Final Four, lost a trip to Egypt, missed college and church homecomings, and just said no altogether to concerts. My 50th Reunion would not be added to the list.

In the fall of 1968, my 9th Grade class became the first desegregated freshman class at John A. Wilkinson High School in Belhaven. My fellow Black students and I had previously attended Belhaven Elementary & High School. Beaufort County Schools, where Belhaven is located, like most schools in North Carolina, adhered to a desegregation order that became effective at the start of school in August 1968. Belhaven, being in North Carolina in the 60’s, many parents of students, 9th Grade and earlier, moved their kids to private schools. As a result, while 10th-12 Grades retained a predominately White student population, Black students composed a majority of students in classes from 9th Grade on down. That of course led to its own set of dynamics. But that’s not focus of this post.

The Reunion was cool. Understand that the event, for all practical purposes was a dual event; a 60-year Homecoming Celebration of the former Belhaven Elementary and High School (the high school ended after the Class of 1968), and a fete for the current Senior Class along with featured Reunion Classes. I’m not sure what the Covid/Fire Code capacity was, but the event was sold out, and well attended. Many of my fellow classmates, Black and White, were there; some still live in the area. There were folks I had not seen in decades, and probably a few of whom I hadn’t seen in 50 years. 

That was the highlight of the trip, but it didn’t end there. We stayed at a waterfront hotel in New Bern, which was its own story. I would typically have stayed in Greenville, or more likely Washington for an event in Belhaven, both of which are closer to Belhaven than New Bern. But it just so happened to be East Carolina’s Spring Commencement weekend. Hence no room in the inn. New Bern is a little further than Greenville, and more than twice as far as Washington. But it’s a quaint town, on the water, and a former colonial and state capital of North Carolina. We had plenty of time, so it made for a more than adequate back-up plan for lodging, and provided an almost vacation-like ambience.

On Saturday morning, one of my cousins who lives between Kinston and New Bern came over and joined us for breakfast. Afterward, Gwen and I cruised over to Kinston, visited with my family, and then headed downtown where we met more family at the BBQ Fest on the Neuse, the town’s annual barbecue festival. While there, we went to see a mural featuring a number Kinston’s sports legends. A lot of people know of Kinston’s impressive basketball legacy (Cedric Maxwell, Brandon Ingram, Charles Shackleford, Jerry Stackhouse, Reggie Bullock, Mitchell Wiggins, Tony Dawson, Dontrez Styles, et. al., but there are also baseball and football stars who hail from Kinston (Quinton Coples, Derek Rivers, Dwight Clark, Ron Wooten, Lin Dawson played in the NFL, while George Suggs, Chris Hatcher, and Carter Cupps all pitched in MLB. Tyrone Willingham played football at Michigan State, and held Head Coaching positions at Stanford and Notre Dame. Ty holds a special place on my list because he and I were born the same day in Kinston, NC.

We left K-town and went to Greenville where we checked out a couple of my childhood friends. After that we completed a loop back to New Bern where we enjoyed a quiet dinner at our hotel. On Sunday, we headed back to Charlotte, stopping briefly in Durham where we checked in on another of my cousins, and his extended family. After a short visit, we returned home after a fulfilling weekend getaway. I will remember it all, but none more fondly than reconnecting with my high school graduating class at our 50th Reunion. 

Perhaps the best part…it’s been a week and a half, so I think I can safely say we did not contract Covid during the trip. “Golden: My How Time Flies!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://kinstonbbq.com

https://www.encmoments.com/home/georgia-artist-works-on-mural-of-kinston-sporting-legends

Your Personal Health: It’s A Serious Matter

It’s time to Break It Down!

So yesterday, I did a thing.

Our time on this orb called earth is limited. One Biblical proclamation asserts that “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70 years), and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80 years), yet is their strength labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10. 

Anthropological historians and demographers have noted that human lifespans have increased, primarily due to numerous factors, including, but not limited to, improvements in environment, food/food preservation, medication, labor saving devices, refrigeration, science, and living in an age of relative peace.

Over the course of the last few decades, life expectancy has increased around the globe. The average person born in 1960, the earliest year the United Nations began tracking global data, could reasonably have expected to live to be 52.5 years of age. Today the average is 72.  In the UK, where records have been kept longer, the trend is even greater. In 1841, a baby girl was expected to live to just 42 years of age, a boy to 40. In 2016, a baby girl could expect to reach 83, a boy, 79. In the U.S., life expectancy decreased from 78.86 years in 2019 to 76.99 years in 2020, and 76.60 years in 2021, a net loss of 2.26 years. While these changes in the U.S. and 19 peer countries have been published online by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the study has not yet been peer reviewed. However, the trend highlighted by these results are significantly attributable to the death toll from COVID-19.   

Laying COVID-19 to one side, the natural conclusion is that both the miracles of modern medicine and public health initiatives have helped us live longer than ever before – so much so that we may be running out of innovations to extend life further. The fact is, while medical advancements have improved many aspects of healthcare, the assumption that human lifespan has increased in some dramatic fashion over the centuries is, in a word, misleading. As always, the devil is in the details. Overall life expectancy hasn’t increased so much because we’re living far longer than we used to as a species. It has increased because more of us, as individuals, are making it that far.

I could go way more in depth about the differences and distinctions between life expectancy (which is an average), and life span of humans. Don’t worry; I won’t. In fact, this is where I shift gears.

I have written before about the importance of attending to one’s individual health. In a previous paragraph, I noted that the point that drives people to notice how much longer we live, is the fact that, more of us are living longer. Moreover, a key reason more of us live longer is more of us have and take advantage of better available healthcare. But let’s not get it twisted. None of us is here on permanent assignment. Nothing we do will alter that fact.

If there were only two people in the world, and one died of pneumonia, due to lack of available healthcare, at two years old, and the other lived to 80, the average lifespan of earth’s population would have been 41. Yet, if those same two people, instead, both lived to be 50, the average lifespan would be 50 years. Even though one of the two lived 30 years less than in the previous example, the average age increased by nearly a decade. Doing right by oneself matters. Providing, accessing, and utilizing advanced healthcare options is a critical necessity. It directly affects each of us and our quality of life as individuals, but it also redounds to us in a macro sense, because the more of us who partake of this benefit, the longer more of us are likely to live.

I had my fourth Colonoscopy yesterday. My medical history also includes a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. Yesterday’s procedure was executed without incident, and the results were good. No polyps or other areas of concern revealed. 

I am writing about this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I’m relieved and frankly delighted to have received a clean report. I’m happy for my wife and me, but also buoyant that my extended family and friends do not have to share the burden I would be carrying had I received a bad report.

Secondarily, I write to caution and encourage every single person who reads this post to act proactively when it comes to your health. In Invictus, William Ernest Henley asserted, 

            It matters not how strait the gate,

            How charged with punishment the scroll,

            I am the master of my fate,

            I am the captain of my soul.

I submit that every adult among us has a responsibility to him or herself to be the best person he or she can possibly be. When it comes to our health, just as with our finances, it behooves us to be our own personal fiduciary. Some folks are reticent to consult medical professionals. Many of us know someone who received devastating news after a consultation with their physician. In too many cases, due to reluctance, hesitancy, fear, and sometimes just being too busy, we put off visiting a doctor, when there were troubling signs or symptoms that we could and should have shared with a physician much sooner, and as a result, received a more favorable diagnosis, or have had an opportunity to a get a more effective regimen prescribed. Stop playing. “Your Personal Health: It’s A Serious Matter!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://news.vcu.edu/article/2022/04/us-life-expectancy-continued-to-fall-in-2021

Control The Narrative: How To Change The Subject

It’s time to Break It Down!

A couple of days ago the U.S. Supreme Court‘s long standing veil of pre-decision secrecy was pierced. According to a now confirmed leak, the 5 most conservative members of the Court, including the three Trump appointees are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision, decided January 22, 1973, that makes some abortions legal in the United States. In publishing the first draft of the opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Politico broke with the Court’s longstanding protocols for security and secrecy.

For the past half-century, abortion, and abortion rights, or the lack thereof, have been among the most hotly contested, widely debated issues in the public policy sphere. Arc conservatives, neo-conservatives, and almost every other stripe assembled under the banner of conservatism have used almost every conceivable measure from civil debates to civil disobedience, to actually killing human beings…in the name of the pro-life movement. It seems oddly antithetical to the stated goal of preserving life, but like their support for unfettered access to guns and ammo, if they are for it, collateral damage doesn’t seem to resonate as anything more serious than a minor inconvenience. Just another way to “own the libs.”

Given the robust nature of the debate, and conservatives’ longstanding passion to achieve what now seems to be a likely victory, it smacks of disingenuousness to see and hear the nauseatingly hollow-ringing moaning and groaning about the source of the leak. Really? If ever there was a straw man, this lame argument steps to the head of the class. I wouldn’t put it past someone from the most conservative corner of the spectrum to have fed the intel into the public domain, specifically with the intent to render a preemptive strike on pro-choice forces, and dissipate early, any energy that might spontaneously ignite to mobilize public opinion, and more importantly, voters.

I could go on a long and laborious rant about the overwrought, under-sourced chorus of “Hillary and Trump are the same” assertions, and the counterpoint that even one Hillary term would have produced a remarkably different kind of Court. But that’s water under the bridge, or over the dam; whichever idiom you might prefer. At this point, preparing for the next round of races is essential. And, lest anyone has forgotten, in North Carolina anyway, voting has already begun. Any time and energy spent off topic, i.e., majoring in the minors, and/or minoring in the majors, is time wasted. Do not fall for the okey-doke. The likely overturning of the law is where the focus belongs. Misdirection such as this, is a long-practiced art of deception. “Control The Narrative: How To Change The Subject!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/politics/supreme-court-broken-analysis/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/politics/supreme-court-john-roberts-roe-v-wade/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/politics/susan-collins-reaction-kavanaugh-gorsuch/index.html