“Change? I’m all for it as long everything stays the same.” — Yep, I’ve probably been accused of saying that.
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Looking out the exam room window at the dentist’s office last week, I started to think. Nothing complicated or even philosophical. Just a simple observation. “The view out that window hasn’t changed in 40 years.”
Truthfully, it was a comforting thought that made me smile. When you’ve been walking through the front door of the same dentist’s office for most of those 40 years, little things do not go unnoticed.
Change comes slower for me than it once did. Probably related to age … because some things never change. It’s always been the younger generation that seeks change more while it’s the, what I prefer to designate as “wiser through experience,” generation that tends to question it.
My father, typically a man of few words for advice, put it best many years ago. Two times he offered tidbits of wisdom that have remained with me. One was about decisions, and one was about love. We’ll save the one about love for another time and a much longer column.
On making decisions, I shared details with him one night about a major purchase I was contemplating. Probably an old hot rod or race car, I don’t remember what it was, just what he told me. Still in college at the time, in my mind, I knew it all anyway.
As I laid it out to him, he listened quietly. Then I paused, anticipating his praise for making such a smart move. But his response startled me. “I don’t think that is such a good decision.”
“Why not,” I asked him in disbelief. After telling me why he felt the way he did, he added, “But I know you will do what you want to regardless of what I say. And I know that only because I was the same way at your age. I had to learn the hard way, from experience.”
He said, “I wish there was some way to benefit you from the knowledge I’ve gained from my experience, good and bad. But I know that’s not possible. Some things in life have to be learned just like I did. By experience.”
On any other day, it might seem odd those thoughts were going through my mind sitting at Dr. Clayton Windham’s office in Center while waiting for a “clean and check.”
The smile about noticing the same old view out the window was still there when another aspect of change hit me. And I’m not talking about the fact that the “new” Dr. Windham to whom I entrusted my dental care 40 years ago is not the same “new” Dr. Windham in whom I place that same trust today.
When Clayton became the new dentist at the old dentist’s office a few years ago, I admit to having apprehensions about breaking in a new dentist at my age.
But they were short-lived apprehensions. Dr. Clayton Windham has proven to be every bit as good a dentist as Dr. Danny Paul Windham. The change I’m addressing here goes much deeper than dental care.
Gazing out the window reminded me of the office music softly soothing anxious dental patients for all those years.
A professional musician and appreciator of good music, Danny Paul, featured a mixture of what many call singer/songwriter country music. I spent decades getting dental care while relaxing to the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Allan Coe, and others of the same genre.
But as I gazed out the window last week, taking in the same view I’d seen for four decades, I noticed I was now listening to … classical music. Instead of steel guitars and fiddles with “strangs,” I was listening to woodwinds and violins with “strings.” The music had changed.
Exam done, I mentioned jokingly to Clayton that I noticed the “new” music playing softly throughout the office. In response, he offered that his wife, Jackie, was in charge of the music and that a variety of tunes were being played that would still include country collections on some days.
“No, problem,” I thought. I can deal with change.
When asked about a convenient date for my next checkup, all I have to do is ask, “What country music days do you have available.”
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche, and The Fort Stockton Pioneer.
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