My Back Pages…This Mornings Journey to the Center of Your Mind
…by Steve Johnson


…what could these things possibly have in common?

I’ve never been in need of a mechanical alarm clock as ever since I was a small child the one in my head has chimed each morning at four AM. I’ve never questioned why, as that was out of my control. Even if I chose to challenge my imaginary timekeeper; the end result isn’t going to change; therefore time spent on this is mute, only garbing my thoughts for the coming day. I’ve also noticed that you and I are the same in our thoughts, even as we go back to kindergarten; when the person that always seemed to make us mad began to occupy our mind in a different light. Before we knew it we were even looking forward to us being on the same hop scotch team at recess. Perhaps, if you fell, that person would be the one coming to your rescue.


This is the kind of anticipation we should all be looking forward to, but if we look at life, it usually doesn’t just happen without some sort of planning. This is why I would sometimes lay in bed at night and plan exactly how I would accidentally trip and fall while making sure Sally was standing nearby to pull me back up. It also may be the only time that eye contact would be appropriately achieved, instead of being caught.


You might think it to be a simple task but timing can make or break any delicate task. Setting up a move such as this on a kindergarten playground may seem simple but it’s no different than Danny Ocean orchestrating his teams next heist, as careful planning in everything we do is not the exception, but is demanded.


This type of planning stuck with me through childhood and before I knew it I was thirteen and something again was mystifying my changing body. It really seemed to happen overnight, as yesterday Ms. Jones was simply my typing teacher but today as I entered her classroom I found this unbelievable goddess with long shapely and muscle toned legs seeming to stretch from the floor to the moon. For the first time in my life I felt it wasn’t me but someone else in my head that was sending these signals, giving me an out, but that was okay with me.


My desk was on the front row and exactly center of Ms. Jones chair. Her desk was positioned to the side so she could better show the class proper fingering of the typewriter keys. This was also okay as my new found mind and body enjoyed the scenery. My challenge was that I was distracted, yet attracted at the same time; just not to the position of her fingers on the keyboard but as to the position of those long and shapely legs. Several weeks of catching a quick glimpse had now come and gone and my third grade attention span was beginning to wane, not away from her legs but now demanding a better view of her entire lower persona, but how was I to get a long enough view to satisfy my new found curiosity without drawing attention.


Planning is a must in our lives as without it we’re simply living out the fact that a blind hog will eventually find an acorn. Once again, planning would be my only way out; or, for my eyes only; my only way in. As I said earlier; my best planning was at night as I lay in bed, just after turning out the light. On this particular night my mind was taken back to Sally and that kindergarten playground and how successful I was in making sure she was there for me when I fell. I had even noticed; because of her being left handed, I would have to extend my right hand causing her to extend her left, so she wouldn’t feel awkward in pulling me up.


Again, planning would be the critical issue in achieving its end result with Ms. Jones. If I were ever to get my much sought after view, I would have to carefully orchestrate the entire process. The ‘drop the pencil’ thing was first to cross my mind…and seemingly enough; was the last, but how do you bring back to life an old worn out cliché such as this without making it look entirely staged? You simply do it with practice.


Each afternoon after completing my paper route I would go to my room where I would sit on my bed and with my left elbow would accidentally knock my pencil to the floor, then time myself as to exactly how long it took to reach, as well as to retrieve it. Timing would be crucial as Ms. Jones always swung her legs toward the front just after showing the class the middle row of the typewriter keys. The magic number of three seconds is what kept appearing on my bedside clock; so my pencil would have to hit the floor just as she began the rotation of her chair. With this in mind, there was no reason to tarry any longer so I set up my plan of action for that coming Friday.


Friday came all too soon and it was business as usual as we all entered her class, with the exception that beneath the arms of my tee shirt was a huge ring of sweat, but there was no backing out now. Class went as usual then came that magical time. I tried hard to control my breathing but it was useless as hyperventilation now caused my entire body to tingle. Ms. Jones fingers were now displaying that middle row of letters, signaling I only had five seconds before she would begin the turn of her chair.


Just as yours is now, my breathing had just about stopped as her chair began its forward rotation. NO MORE WAITING! …AS MY PENCIL HAD TO DROP PRECISELY AT THIS POINT! Just as planned my elbow brushed my pencil, knocking it to the floor. The timing proved perfect as her chair was now directly facing my desk. I was now a total wreck but began my reach while keeping my eyes directed only toward my goal! Just as I leaned forward, Ms. Jones voice said, “Stevie, no need to lean down. I’ll get your pencil.” …and with a very lady-like stoop, she retrieved it, sitting it gently back upon my desk, causing our eyes to meet for a brief second; but it was long enough for me to see the slightest grin on her face, letting me know she had figured me out long in advance.


The twist to this whole fiasco was that in my planning; I’d already planned for the unexpected; or better, the expected; which is exactly what happened; therefore my much anticipated view actually had already occurred as my pencil hit the floor. The end result is we both achieved our goals. Ms. Jones walked away with self-satisfaction, and me; with an image imprinted in my brain which still remains today; within the sounds of silence.


As I said, planning in our lives is a must; especially in our fitness journey. We can never discount the unexpected but must plan for it ahead of time. Take time to warm up before attempting any exercise. Lift smaller amounts of weight as you work your way into your goal, using only enough weight to give proper resistance. Depending upon our strength; this means different amounts to different people. Also never believe the old saying NO PAIN…NO GAIN! If any exercise becomes painful; STOP IMMEDIATELY! There is always another way to work that same group of muscles.



That’s about all I’ve got for today so until next time let me leave you with some of the best advice I’ve ever had. It came from a bear.






Copyright © 2019 . Steve Johnson