College life far from a magic carpet ride

Grant McGee

On a trip out of town a couple of months ago, I fell in love with a bicycle.

Now this wasn’t your typical bicycle. It’s designed differently. It gives a real cushy ride and it has gears and a speedometer and other neat stuff.

So I saved up my money and bought it.

I got it home to Clovis and hopped on.

It wasn’t quite the way I dreamed it would be.

“I’m sorry it doesn’t have plumes of brightly colored smoke streaming from the rear as you ride it,” said my friend Lizzie with a gleam in her eye.

Yep, she pretty much summed it up. It wasn’t a magic carpet that would whisk me around Clovis (that’d look pretty weird, eh?).

It would be up to me to make it wonderful.

I think there’s a lot of stuff in life that we expect to be magic.
And it turns out that, well, it ain’t.

I think about the young folks from around eastern New Mexico and west Texas who are going back to school now. A number of them are off to colleges and universities to pursue their higher education.

I hope they’re heading into it knowing what they want out of their higher education. I didn’t. Well, not a realistic plan anyway.

I viewed going off to college much the same way I viewed that bicycle. I thought all I had to do was just show up at the university and, poof, I’d be educated. Knowledge would flow into my head like manna from heaven. I’d have a career and checks would come in the mail. Could an adoring spouse and two instantly elementary-aged, well-behaved children be far behind?

High school had been good to me. College was a long, slow, three-year train wreck.

It wasn’t a total loss, though.

The original concept of the university was for the student to go and be exposed to all kinds of different aspects of life: the sciences, the arts and such. If that’s the purpose, then my college education was a success. I started as a forestry major, moved to English, then on to liberal arts. My real education came from being a part of the student radio station and newspaper.

I’ll never forget the feeling, though, of wandering through those college years with the feeling of no direction while it seemed everyone else knew exactly what they were doing.

Back then, my mom sent me a newspaper article about the actor Ralph Waite (he played the dad in the TV show “The Waltons”). Waite described going to some university as a young man, feeling like he had no direction while it seemed everyone else knew exactly what they were doing.

I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

For a number of us, for many things, high expectations collapse into anti-climactic reality.

It comes down to making your own magic, your own destiny.

So for those people going to college, that degree will be your magic carpet. But you have to make it fly.

Kind of like my new bicycle.

It’ll be up to me to make those plumes of colored smoke come out the back.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: