Memory is a funny thing. If you ask for my earliest memories, I tell you they don’t start until age 5.
But when I drift into the fogginess of reverie, earlier snippets appear.
Sleeping in a crib with my stuffed monkey.
Climbing on a countertop with a neighbor kid to steal candy from a high cabinet.
Running in the “exit” side of the supermarket's automatic door and being knocked cold when it swung into my forehead.
Hanging myself with a rope from the top of the swing set.
Memory tells me I was just stupidly curious to know what hanging felt like. But perspective wonders if I was toying with early departure.
Mom saved me at the last moment.
Imagine her shock at looking out the trailer house and seeing her little boy hanging by his neck.
She died at age 38. Perhaps without that, she’d have made 40.
A child’s perspective is not large enough to realize if he's an abnormally difficult kid. I still don’t know. I only know I was treated as one.
I remember leaving my first grade classroom for appointments with a school speech therapist. I couldn’t pronounce "L's" or “R’s.”
I remember going to the school nurse to sleep off headaches at least once a week all the way through elementary and junior high.
I remember being afraid of Dad. Afraid of Mom’s failing health. Afraid of them fighting.
Which is why paper routes, money and after school sports all became so big in my windscreen. They provided freedom from those fears.
Money provided all the things I wanted that Dad denied. Even today, I keep a hundred dollars worth of candy in the house.
Sports and jobs provided the self-esteem that was stunted at home.
But work had its own restrictions and denials. I’d never get the freedom I wanted in that matrix.
Passive income, early retirement and no debt finally provided the F-U freedom I so desperately wanted from my earliest memories on this planet.
It takes decades to connect the dots of a life.
The dots explain buying a big, beautiful, brand new trailer house as an adult.
Why I despised running my dreams through others’ approval.
Why I became a self-researching contrarian who rejected conventional wisdom.
Started my own businesses.
Self-published my best writing.
Bought entire trailer parks.
Early adversity pushed me to find workarounds to become the absolute master of everything that held me down in childhood.
I not only beat childhood, I exceeded the point spread by a factor of ten.
Which is why I absolutely marinate in gratitude for doing so, every single day since.
But like most efforts in life, it’s tempered by the discovery that I’ve only reached a plateau that finally feels “normal.”
Without adversity, challenge and obstacles, there'd be no reason to celebrate and appreciate arrival.
But once here, there's another challenge.
What comes after "normal?"
Elusiveness of Normal
What If We Know Before We Arrive?
One of the few childhood desires I haven't yet fulfilled
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