FITZPATRICK, Ala. – D.J. Holifield entered the world three months early, so that could be the reason he can't seem to wait to learn, explore and find out what's around the next corner.
Take last July, for instance. The 10-year-old Bullock County honor student and his dad were on a cruise, but, instead of spending all his time eating or playing games on deck, D.J. decided to try an experiment.
First, he wrote a short note and inserted it into the plastic top of a ballpoint pen. Then, he carefully protected it in a wrapper and placed it into an empty bottle.
At just the right moment, he reared back as he would when tossing a ball to first base for his youth league baseball team and "chucked" it into the Gulf of Mexico.
Would the bottle ever reach land? If so, how long would it take to get there? And, would the finder contact him before he's old and gray?
Those were some of the questions he asked himself and his dad, state Trooper Darin Holifield, as they watched the bottle bob in the waves on that bright moonlit night before finally slipping from sight.
Two months later, Jacqueline Lind was walking along the beach in Melbourne, Fla., when she saw a seaweed-covered object stuck in the sand.
It was, of course, the bottle D.J. had tossed into the briny deep only a few weeks before. And, just like the boy who was born three months early, it didn't take long to arrive either.
Darin Holifield, a pilot who is well aware of time and distance, figured the bottle had traveled about 600 miles in just 60 days.
"Our ship was due north of Cozumel," Holifield said. "There was a hurricane during those two months, and it may have pushed the bottle through the Florida Straits to Melbourne."
Whatever the reason, it's obvious the bottle wasn't wasting any time before reaching land and Lind's hand.
She and her husband took it home, pulled D.J.'s note out of the wrapper and read it.
A newspaper reporter took it from there, and an elderly woman who read the article then wrote D.J. to tell him the good news.
His note wasn't different from most inserted in bottles and tossed into the ocean. He listed his name, address and other basics.
When D.J. told his fifth-grade classmates at Macon-East Montgomery Academy, the first reaction from most of them was "wow," he said.
Other than that, they weren't all that impressed and that kept D.J.'s feet firmly on the ground. His friends didn't even ask him for an autograph.
Father and son were on the cruise as part of a reward for D.J. for once again doing so well in class, making the honor roll again.
"We always try to take trips together, and the cruise was just one of the things we've done," said the state trooper, who is divorced and looks forward to having his son stay with him as often as possible.
"We're already planning our next trip," he added.
Next spring or summer they'll travel to Florida to visit the Linds and take a look at their bottle, which is being kept at the couple's house.
D.J. may only be 10, but he's got his future mapped out already. His goal is to become an astronaut one day, after getting his degree from "Vandy."
"I've always wanted to go there," he said, referring to Vanderbilt University, which often is referred to as "Ivy League South."
In the meantime, he'll continue to play baseball, do his homework and maybe even begin to enjoy poetry.
Longfellow once wrote "I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I knew not where." D.J. isn't into arrows that much, but his mighty toss into the Gulf of Mexico did have a successful conclusion, unlike Longfellow's effort.
He also believes his bottle could wind up as a Guinness World Record. He said the record for the longest time one floated around before being discovered was 92 years and 229 days.
D.J. hasn't ruled out the possibility of contacting the "Guinness people" to see if his bottle might set a different kind of record.
"Mine might be the shortest," he said, flashing a big grin.