On Planning My New Life?

On May 18th, I will celebrate my 5th-anniversary of my second life. Being a frugal Scot, I wanted to save some money so I decided to stain the deck at our home. Somehow as I was staining part of the deck above my head while standing on a ladder in a flower bed, I slipped and fell 10-feet below to the patio causing a subdural hematoma and resultant 4-weeks in ICU. While there, I talked to and recognized all my family and friends. Nevertheless, I don't recall even a nanosecond of the fall or the weeks in ICU. I was in a rehab hospital for an additional 3-week stay, much of which I don't recall either. However, after leaving the rehab hospital, I was well on my way back to my normal life.

Al reading in the hospital

Me in the ICU

Al's stictches in his head

In the past 5-years of functioning normally, I have become even more aware of my attention deficit disorder (ADD). I have been ADD for all my life. It is not the type with hyperactivity that is seen with people who are physically moving all the time. Nevertheless, my hyperactivity is all in my brain, which never rests. I can be sitting still, but my brain is hyper engaged and never rests.

In addition, I can't go in one direction very long without pivoting and heading in another. Just look at the wide range of articles that I have written just in this year. I have written open letters to Chief Justice Roberts and Kim Jong-un. I have explored the meaning of many nursery rhymes for my young grandchildren, Jack and Owen. I have also dissed the Republication party's rightwing, which is essentially the entire party.

I never seem content or settled. I am always thinking about what if I did this or went there of wrote about that? I started this article in Scotland and finished it with a party on the 18th of May...marking the exact 5-year marker since my dance with death. I returned to Scotland again...after 45-years of being away. In 7-months, I'll be in Burma. I've planned most of that trip already and am wondering what is next. A normal 70-year old would have chilled out and relaxed so as to enjoy life but not me....

However, for me, enjoying life means thinking and being active. Here I am traveling in Scotland in part to learn more about the Scottish quest for devolution (independence) from the UK. While I am interviewing Scots about the referendum that will occur on September 18, 2014, I am trying to contact Aung Sang Suu Kyi for an interview regarding her efforts of bringing freedom to the Burmese people.

I would like to go to St. Petersburg, Russia in December 2016 for the 100th anniversary of the death of the Mad Monk, Rasputin. I'd love to organize a group to see the Moika Palace where the elongated attempt to assassinate him started and the Moika River where it finally was successful. I could teach a mini-class on the Mad Monk while there.

Traveling is a great part of my life, but my ADD isn't abated by travel. Another high interest are my 2-young grandchildren: Jack and Owen. Ayanna is my oldest grandchild, and she is off to college at the end of this summer. She's an adult and knows where she is going and what she wants to do. However, Jack and Owen are toddling or crawling around exploring their wondrous world. Ayanna can stay focused, but Jack and Owen love exploring everything.

Another part of my life is teaching. There are very few professors running around like I am not satisfied with not knowing. A great part of that comes from moving from Pennsauken, NJ at the end of my 5th grade where I was well-above average academically. However, my parents moved to Mt. Lebanon, PA. Pennsauken was an average school system, but Mt. Lebanon was superlative...19th best in the nation. That had a profound effect upon me...negatively. I went from being above average to average...and viewed being average at Mt. Lebanon as being very negative. Nevertheless, I didn't know why there was a problem.

Halfway through my life, I realized that being average at Mt. Lebanon meant that I was still above average when compared to the rest of the country. That awakening has motivated me to help other students not to make the same thinking error as I did a half century ago. Nevertheless, the curse has turned into a blessing for me. I am driven to help students avoid wasting time like I did.

My experience, while painful for several decades, turned out to be very fortunate for me. I learned an important lesson the hard way...but I learned it. That lesson has changed my life for the best. I love teaching and attempting to help students learn material in various humanities classes. Nonetheless, it is critical that students do not waste precious time in school as I did learning that lesson. I love college teaching, and I love teaching very young kids to learn like Jack and Owen.

Jack and Owen have already learned much of the real history of nursery rhymes. I'm not sure of their retention of this material at their ages, but I will continue. I love art history and have taught Jack about Marc Chagall's I and the Village. He was fascinated by the picture, and I wrote an article about it. When he saw the article about it in which I enclosed the picture, he was again mesmerized by Chagall's work. When I was in college, I had a print of that painting in my dorm room. Regardless, I won't stop teaching...ever. Nonetheless, as with traveling, it isn't enough.

It isn't that I have a lot of spare time...I don't. However, I'm always wondering what else is out there? One would think that at 70, I would relax. I haven't. In part, it is my ADD. However, I danced with death twice 5-years ago. I have only another 30-years left before reaching my long-term goal of outliving George Burns who went several weeks beyond the century mark. We were both born on January 20th. Therefore, I exercise daily on an elliptical trainer, a bike, or a kayak. Being content isn't a part of my life. I am addicted to ADD. It isn't an issue of getting rid of my ADD; it is what is next?

China Dostal is my webmaster. She has redesigned my site. I had a webpage for about 20-years. When it came to the Internet, I was way ahead of the curve. However, I spent so many years writing, interviewing, and taking travel photos that while I started way ahead of the curve, China has helped me see and understand how far behind the curve I am today. The paradigm shifted...and I missed it.

It was China who kept saying, "Why don't you do something on Facebook?" I was so behind the curve on understanding what she was saying about social media that I just didn't respond initially. Finally, China pressed me for the 20th time, and I just responded, "Okay, I'll do it." I was not sold on it, but I allowed her to help me develop Wolverton-Mountain on Facebook. Nevertheless, I did so without much enthusiasm.

This is a side note: China is into computer technology to the nth degree. She knows her material, and she is absolutely honest. I'd ask her about some add-on to my webpage while redesigning it, and she wasn't sure it would be possible. Nevertheless, she said, "I don't know how; I'll look into it." The next day, she had the add-on up and running. The next time I asked about doing something, the same thing occurred. Since then, I let her cautionary comments go over my head, because I know that she will resolve my artsy requests within 24-hours or less.

China isn't pushy but when I don't respond to a suggestion that she has made, she knows how to push quietly until she has my attention. That was especially true with Facebook. Honestly, I was in a social media time warp. I thought that a 20-year old website was all I needed.

I was wrong. Hence, this article is up on my website and also on Facebook. China is married to Graham, who often acts as a critique for China and me. Once she talked to him about some tech issue that I raised, and he said that I should just use Facebook to implement what I wanted to do and forget about doing it on my website. That notion had a loud ring to me. I think that he is right, but I am so old school that I am not quite ready knowing full well that Graham is right.

Now, back to the reason for this article however it does demonstrate my ADD very well. My writing this article is my attempt to get some social media help.

Al in discussion

I need your advice...your suggestions.

You, who are out there in the social media cyberspace, can assist me. I need your ideas about what I can do in this stage of my life. Retirement for a person suffering from ADD is at best counterintuitive. Here are several of my perimeters:

  1. I don't have to make a lot of money, but I do need enough to help defray expenses for my various ADD activities like travel.
  2. It can involve travel, but I don't want to be away from our home for long periods of time. Prior to Jack and Owen, I was looking into morphing travel and teaching together and finding a teaching job overseas. I have designed, wrote a course, planned the travel itinerary for a class, and taught that in China. That was a hoot. A short trip like that would be ideal.
  3. I want something involving people, but I can also sit in front of a computer for 8-hours and be quite happy.
  4. Another issue that I love are political and social movements. I am left of center of anyone that you know. However, I bought into Bobby Kennedy's drive not just to talk about what is right but to help others to see what is right. Therefore, I know that educating those to the right of me is necessary...indeed vital. In addition, I have used Bobby Kennedy's statement for my email signature for more than two decades: "Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not." He and I shared that same drive of dreaming.
  5. I had written a weekly human interest column for a newspaper in a very conservative Illinois community. The editor, Bill Shaw, liked my work and thinking even though it was radically different than his. We both appreciated that relationship. Thanks again, Bill.
  6. I could also write about travel and how closely it is tied to education. I tell my college students that they won't ever quit going to school. Formal education in the class room is important, but informal education of living life is also. Nevertheless, any form of education must include overseas travel. It is mandatory...if you really want to learn.

I have been all over the world, and the gap between what is written in a book and what is out there often is vast. Trust me; I kid you not. I have spent about two full years outside of the US. I studied in Edinburgh, Scotland and spent the summers before and after in Western, Eastern Europe, and part of North Africa. In addition, I've planned and conducted tours, gone on private tours to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. I have been to India, Tibet, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Mali, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and China. Many of those places, I have been to more than once. My travel itinerary to Burma at the end of this year is pretty much set.

I know that it will be only a matter of time before several of you in the social media world will provide ideas and/or email addresses to someone that could assist and guide me in the next step in life. The name of a psychiatrist isn't what I desire. Bear in mind, I'm not interested in a cure for my ADD. I just need ideas to feed my addiction.

So, please help with any of your suggestions. Just email me at

Bobby Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy

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Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

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