Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘college’

The Empty Nest

SkyVision is jammed with kids heading off to school who are getting in their eye exams before the end of the summer. It’s fun for all of us when we see a kid leaving for college and remember when they got their first pair of glasses or got fit for contacts for the first time. The chat with their parents is a bit more poignant for the two of us who are empty nesters. We both go through a little bit of that empty feeling along with those parents.

My brother is sending his youngest to school in a week or so. Randy has been blessed with two very athletic sons, and he has really enjoyed watching them play their sports. His nest is going to feel really empty without having the guys there. My brother-in-law just left our house after dropping off his youngest for the beginning of her freshman year, thereby emptying his nest. Pete was more than a bit melancholy when he got back to our house, a somewhat foreign state of mind for him. I can relate to both of these Dads. Here’s what I wrote for “Sunday musings” when my youngest, also Randy, headed off to college.


“There’s a hole in my soul right now. I know it will get smaller, fill in, but it just opened up so it’s really quite obvious at the moment. My youngest, Lil’bingo, is off to college. Mrs. Bingo and I dropped him and “Lovely Daughter” at the ‘Hurst’ yesterday leaving a packed and ready to fly “The Heir” as the only progeny on premises.

I’m not sad, mind you, nor am I frightened like I was when “Lovely Daughter” left for her freshman year. Nope, not relieved either, the emotion felt by both of his parents when “The Heir” went off to Denver. It’s not an emptiness or a feeling of a door closing, the things that Mrs. Bingo has expressed as she has said several times: “All I ever wanted to be is a Mom; I know it’s not so, but it feels like that’s just done now.” For me it’s just a hole.

Do you have a special person in your life? Remember how you just couldn’t imagine that you could love them even a little bit more only to discover that each day brought just that, a little bit more? What happens when children enter your world? Does your heart expand, your love for your spouse the same, maybe even expanding still while you add more love for the kids? Or is there really a finite amount of love to give, a bucket with little compartments and a ladle to mix it up, move it around?

It’s not that you, I, love them any less because they aren’t here at the table, there’s just less of an opportunity to DO the loving. You know, exercise the love domain in the language of CrossFit. That’s the hole, I think. What happens now? Does the love of Mrs. Bingo start to expand again, grow at the rate it once did in the days BK, before kids? Fill the hole? Does the hole just slowly close?

No teachable moment here my Brothers and Sisters. Nothing but one among you here at the Crossfit table, talking out loud among friends in a place I feel at home. Parenting at the speed of life, pedal to the floor, lucky to have a co-pilot who has always filled the holes.”


Me again, offering a little tip of the hat and a soothing pat on the back to my brother Randy and brother-in-law Pete, and for that matter to everyone sending off any child to college or elsewhere. It’s been 3 years now for me and I’m pretty OK. The holes are still there, I just don’t see them all the time any more. I do miss them, all three, I really do. But I’m kinda liking having just my special girl around again like it was BK.

Trust me, it’s gonna be OK.


Williams College 30th Reunion: Friendships Found

It’s been 30 years since I left the Purple Valley and Williams College. How fun it was to spend the weekend surrounded by my fellow Ephs.

I learned a little bit about my younger self this weekend and in doing so gained a tiny bit of insight into the maturing adult I am striving to become. I graduated from college 30 years ago along with around 400 classmates. 100 or so of us returned for our Reunion weekend. You would think that in a class that small each of us would at least be on a “hi, how are you” first name basis with everyone who was there, right?

Not even close. There were folks there who I’m quite sure I never even saw in 4 years of college. Never, as in not a single time. Even more than that, there was a measurable number of really nice people with whom I had zero interaction after freshman year. How could that have been? I was a pretty social character in college. You’re shocked, I know. What’s up with that?

At a time and an age where it should be all about expansion, expanding one’s mind, experiences, circles of acquaintances and friends, quite the opposite was happening at Williams when it came to the people part of the equation. And it wasn’t just me, either; this mini-epiphany was shared almost universally at breakfast the last morning by all present.

There seem to be a couple of teachable moments in this experience, only one of which is for the younger version of me. It’s obvious looking through the retrospectometer that one should harvest as many friendships, plant as many of the seeds of friendship when one is young and still living among other young people. Makes a ton of sense, so much so that it seems almost trite. Yet here were 100 reasonably accomplished adults who’d grown up out of reasonably accomplished youngsters who almost universally let this opportunity slide by. At a minimum, we collectively failed to reap or sow as much friendship as we could have.

And for us now? We who are now 10, 20, (gasp) 30 years removed from those fertile school year fields, what is the lesson for us? Much simpler, I think. You can never have enough friends. Whether across the street and there for a wave with the retrieval of the morning paper, or across a continent and only touched when one sends news and a photo of classmates doing their tiny part to make the world a better place, you can never have enough friends.

Even more, as we learned this weekend, it’s never to late to make a new friend.



Transition, 2.0: “The Heir” Graduates From College!

My oldest child Dan, known around my Crossfit buddies as “The Heir”, has reached a very significant milestone. On June 4th in front of his Mom and Dad, sister, brother, and grandparents, Dan graduated from college and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s an inflection point. Call it Transition 2.0. I wrote a little bit about graduations when Megan, “Lovely Daughter”, graduated from high school in 2008. Here’s an excerpt:


“The next stage. “Lovely Daughter” graduates from high school tomorrow. Now, in our family this would not typically be a very big deal, not a very big step. We are very fortunate chez Bingo, and by and large we try very hard to realize this good fortune. It has been for several generations not a matter of whether you graduated from high school but what you did and where you went from there. This was certainly the case with “The Heir”.

But “Lovely Daughter” had challenges that could not be foreseen, a difficult battle with illness that continues today, one that prevented her from attending school as a “regular” student for the better part of two years. With the assistance of Mrs. Bingo and others, but largely through the force of her own will, “Lovely Daughter” has been able to leave the darkness behind and live in the light (although, to be sure, the darkness lurks behind, always in the mirror, always there). Despite not being in school those years she will graduate on time, with her original class, 4.0 grade point in hand, and move on to her next step in college.”


Dan, on the other hand, was quite ready to move on to college some time in the Spring of his sophomore year in high school. Frankly, there were times that his Mom and Dad were ready for him to head off to college around then, too! Seriously, Dan is so bright and so able that it is always really just a question of ‘what’ and ‘when’ he will move on to the next great adventure, the next triumph. Maybe that’s why this whole college thing seemed to go by so very quickly. I mean, really, wasn’t it just last year that we were moving on from Jr. High to High School? Choosing all-boy parochial vs. public? And c’mon…I’m SURE it can’t have been more than 2 or 3 years ago that Danny (he was Danny back then!) was pulled, kicking and screaming and ferociously clutching the steering wheel of the mini-van on the way to kindergarten. Right?

Man, it all went so fast.

I tried to hold on to each precious moment. Really, I did. Even whacky stuff like lacrosse in a monsoon, I told myself I’d miss it when it was gone. Pay attention! Pre-school to grade school; grade school to middle school; middle school to high school; college to, well, who really knows? I really DO remember the graduations, each one of them. I was there for each of them, for Dan and Megan and Randy, both physically and mentally. As fast as it’s all gone I can make it slow down by playing the “tape”  of each one back in my mind.

It goes so fast, you know. All of it. It makes me wonder why people are always in such a rush to get to that next place, whatever that next place might be. Kids in such a hurry to grow up. Parents in such a hurry to have the kids grow up. I don’t get it. Even when it was tough–face it…this parenting stuff is nothing if not tough–I never really got the whole hurry up thing. Heck, it’s FUN to be a kid rolling in a big ‘ol mud puddle, and it’s fun to be the parent hosing said kid off after shooing him back outside after he fouled the front hallway. You just don’t get to DO that stuff after awhile.

I tried. Really, I tried to take it all in. To be OK with wherever and whenever we happened to be. You know, to be just fine with the graduation at hand and not so much into what was going to lead up to the next graduation. How’d I do? Man, it all went so fast, I’m sure I could have done a better job at it.

We are not promised tomorrow. If tomorrow comes we are not promised a “good” tomorrow. If we lead a virtuous life, whatever that may mean for each of us, we hope that our efforts will translate into a “good”, or at least “better”, tomorrow. Or not.

All we have is graduation today.  And every today has something, some thing little or big, that makes it a good day. Each of our privations, every challenge can be borne if we realize that there is some one thing, or some several things, that are good in each day. What we hope for is tomorrow, and that tomorrow might be as good, or better, than today. But what we HAVE is today. In the end, that’s all we ever have.

There was a time when I awoke each day and checked to make sure that I was still the father of a daughter. EVERY day was a good day. There’s nothing particularly special about this today, about Saturday June 14, 2011, except that this was the day we had, and it was Dan’s college graduation. Transition 2.0, but a day to cherish all on its own without too very much thought about transitioning to “what”. And I was there. Really, really there.

What’s good for you today? Who’s special to you today? Did you tell them? Do they know? You may not have a tomorrow you know, but if you are reading “Random Thoughts” you DO have today. You don’t have to be a parent for this to be so, but I’m here to tell ya, the today’s go reeeeeally fast. You slow them down by letting yourself be there, today. Because as fast as they go, there are really only two kinds of “todays”, good ones and great ones.

And man, they go by so fast.