From Billy Dale
I am so grateful that Carlton shared his life journey. It offers balance and reflection to the dangerous roads we travel and the raging rivers that destiny forces many of us to cross. His message springs from eternal hope and the strength of the human spirit.
I am impressed at the effort and the results shown on the panthers67 website. I am also impressed with the lives that are biographed. Some of us are among the less fortunate and have travelled a challenging path. There is no reason to complain and in some sense the view of the underside of life is still inspiring. Hope the reunion celebration ranks among your greatest memories.
My life by any measuring stick you want to use is a failure. But I feel we all left Permian in 1967 on paths that count and after 50 years these paths are veins in the body of humanity.
For 21 years after graduation. I lived a conventional, success driven life. In 1988 I had a wife, two sons, a career, impressive house, very comfortable income, and savings that were growing and earmarked for my sons' college and retirement. By 1990 it all began disappearing because I could not stem the tide of mental illness.
The night of March 26, 1988, I had an involuntary 11 hour trance. I came out of the trace fearful I had lost my greatest strength, my mind. I entered a community that is full of mystery, speculation, few solutions, frustration, dysfunction, and declining standard of life. Over the past 29 years, diagnosed and treated as bipolar, I have had 8 "episodes" and been hospitalized 7 times. Twice I have narrowly escaped being "homeless." I have listened to countless stories of despair and witnessed those who try to find there way to a better life, but slide back into their dysfunctions.
Consequently, I have considerable empathy and compassion for the mentally ill. I have seen mental illness somewhat come out of the shadows of society. I have also found humility.
Someone once said, "You have to live life forward, but it is only understood backward." As I look back, I can see threads in my life that clearly indicated my life would not be conventional. I tried to live that way, but ultimately it didn't work. So, by most conventional measures, my life is a failure. But my feelings of empathy, compassion, and humility are treasures I take with me into the hereafter.
Billy, if you feel this contributes to the site for the reunion, you have my permission to add it or tell me how to put it on the site. If you feel this really does not fit with the "themes" you and those working on the reunion are trying to promote, I understand.
(Sent via To Hell or Heaven We are the Class of '67)