By GREG MARKLEY
When I was a high school senior in 1975, we could not just go to Brainy Quote to find a profound or humorous saying. We sought words that would encapsulate our four years at the school. Middle-class families, mine included, did not always have dictionaries and quote books. And public libraries closed early and were not usually open on Sundays.
By Monday, our yearbook quotes were due. I turned to my history teacher. At age 26 he had a head full of sayings. We discussed several quotes, but I finally picked one we both liked: “Sometimes we get so obsessed with an obsession that we forget our original idea.” I felt in 1975 that it applied to me, someone with eclectic interests and a vivid imagination.
A December 2021 article for Shutterfly.com listed “60 Memorable Yearbook Quotes.” One Inspirational quote was “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. It’ll soon be here” which was a 1992 and 1996 campaign song for Bill Clinton. Another Inspirational one was “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Students graduating soon at Auburn University, Southern Union and area high schools are advised to read that Shutterfly article for samples. You may have heard one or both of these funny quotes: “No more homework, no more books! No more teacher’s dirty looks!” and “You will regret not dating me in high school.”
“Choosing a memorable yearbook quote or catchphrase is a great way to make a lasting impression,” explains Shutterfly.com. “Let your legacy live on in the pages of your yearbook and use a quote that reflects your personality and wit.”
I met high-profile, hard-charging people as a journalist and soldier who were “so obsessed with an obsession” that their quality of life suffered. These include politicians, lawyers, doctors, professors and small-businessmen who are unheralded heroes. Yet some drifted away from their “original idea” and that upsets me. I’m a capitalist but believe that work should not be 100% about money, or in the case of some office-holders, more power than they can absorb.
Millions of people were obsessed with Elvis Presley and Princess Diana, from when Elvis was 20 and Diana was 19. Elvis was “a prisoner in his own home” and his fans were not just fascinated, but obsessed. They wanted to be typical fans, but became obsessed. He died at 42, in poor health compounded worse by taking illicit pills.
Diana became more popular than her husband Charles, the future king. She was on more People Magazine covers than anyone. Her fans were obsessed, which in turn led the paparazzi to take photos of her all the time. Even when she was no longer a member of the Royals, her popularity increased. Fans probably knew they were “obsessed with the obsession” but they could not help it. She died in a car crash in 1997 and almost 25 years later people are still obsessed about her.
I have noticed in Alabama and Georgia that occasionally businessmen and women get elected to a city council or county commission but maybe did not realize the work load for these “part-timers.” They sometimes serve only one or two terms, but must return to run their small businesses or corporate offices.
Some ran for public office as an extension of what they were already doing to advance the community. But the “original idea” crashed with the obsession of helping the public through politics. Yet the good thing about these business people is that however long they serve, their government body benefits from their knowledge in budgeting and keeping spending down.
I often talk to college and university students who take a semester or a year off to earn enough money to attend later. Some of them are frustrated and in fact obsessed with the idea that their friends will graduate before them. Relax. Longevity tables are in your favor, to have 60+ years remaining.
Please don’t obsess about losing your place on the upward mobility plane. Remember: the original idea is what matters, not worrying or obsessing about being three months or even three years, behind your classmates.As for yearbook quotes, one that is overused is “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” taken from the opening line of Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities.”
In 1975 I was pleased to have a history teacher who availed me of a good quote for the yearbook. That is, “Sometimes we get so obsessed with an obsession that we forget our original idea.” Now students everywhere can get a quote in minutes from Brainy Quote. Politicians can also get good quotes from the Web. That is nice: No reason to be obsessed.
Greg Markley first moved to Lee County in 1996. He has Masters’ in education and history. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer for 12 years. firstname.lastname@example.org