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Well, where to start? Delve into the mysteries of philosophy, the ever morphing beast in our minds, or explore the human experience through simple functions and chemical releases? I suppose the story lies somewhere between the two, as most stories do, or any search through opinion for that matter, funny how that works out. Perhaps if we view the radical extremists of the world, take their philosophies and come to a conclusion on where the middle lies we will have a solid answer to it all. Of course all that is speculation, precisely which I wish to discuss.
In understanding me, the man at the key board, we must first start many years back, to the first dawning years of my development. That is of course the most important time in a man’s life, the crucial moments when he forms the base of his person. Little do we know it, and young children are taken for very little knowledgeable value, but they are the most wise and sensible creatures there are. It is our influences that direct us, and if those influences happen to be more than just parents, we are blessed indeed.
This said, I will briefly touch upon my key influences and models. I am a hybrid. I am a cross development of my siblings, and yet a definite unique character of my own. I am the eleventh of twelve, and exactly 10 of these modeled for me the way to live. My parents were there, but with the insanity of a house full of rebellious teenagers, whining tweens, and screaming youngsters, a single, mostly quiet toddler could get away with out too much attention. We all thrived off of each other, and the shared attention of the parentals, whom we slowly broke from being the pillars of structure and rules to lenient, tired, and very much done grandparents. I learned to create my own amusements in a world where independence was everything, either you made sure you were seen and got what you needed or you may end up hungry and cold. Character of independence was the game, and we all learned to play it, one way or the other.
I know how easy I had and have it, I have heard the horror stories and remember some of them in the making. A teenager under the roof of a pair of mindful, religious, and intelligent parents has much to worry about. That with the zero TV tolerance, chore lists, limited transportation, and well lack of extraneous goods that abounded in one or two child households, the older kids ( as we call the upper half) had it quite rough.
It is not as though they gave my parents an easy time of it either. The front half of the family did not have the advantage that we bottom half had. The younger half of any family always has it better off, the farther down you go the better it is. As I am the second to last, well, things don’t get too much better. We have learned you see, learned from all the mistakes, seen what the results of certain behaviors are, learned just to what limits we can push to without falling into the suffering of consequences. The trick to having a comfortable teenage life is to simply succeed. I learned this very quickly. If you are an “A” student, rock the competition in sports, and have a steady job, (also doesn’t hurt to be a part of clubs and extra curriculars as long as you snag leadership positions) then you will have no problems getting the usual fought for commodities: car, TV set, own room, absolute freedom, nights that go late into the morning. Oh it’s not easy, but it’s the most surefire way to gaining trust, holding it, and becoming an adult in a teenage body.
As I said, all this was learned through the view I had of the older kids, watching closely as they made their mistakes and victories, viewing which colleges they went to, and where they headed after that. It is not the quality of education you have, or the things you are given, but what you can make for yourself, and the characteristics you build that will take you places.
My eldest brother, Mike, had a great effect on me. It was through his mistakes that I learned, and for him I am forever grateful. Now, as I am 18, I have begun to have a great relationship with the man, working, running, and joking around with this mysterious character I heard more about than saw for myself when I was young. He was one of the gods of my youth, along with one other, that shaped me more through the lack of his presence and the snippets of memories than through direct involvment. I will not dwell on him but let us say he is one of my heroes, as corny as that sounds, and one whom I have never before reconciled with myself as such. He overcame his own personal flaws in a story that would make one of the best selling books on the market. That is only for him to tell however, and I cannot hope to grasp the enormity of that until I have lived in this world a while longer yet.
Through his reshaping of character, victory over self, and assumption into a life wholly in charge of himself with a loving family of a wife and two children and a business to call his own, I envy him. I envy his stability and his strength. His story is one I would like to challenge with the greatness of my own one day, and not all this prattling garbage I am writing now. He made huge mistakes, abused himself, and then took all he had done wrong and made it into who he is now.
On the topic of gods, those mysterious embodiments of the older kids, I will tell you about Rob. He was the only other one of the older kids I saw as not only a sibling, but an object of divinity. It is most likely one of the most unhealthy of human designs, placing a man, a brother, on such a high plane of existence, but it is something we all do. Reflecting on your own life there must be one or two, even if it is only a parent that you once saw as infallible, the perfect being of power and ability.
Rob is the black sheep of the family, and I must admit I love it. I love the rebellion, always have, always have worshipped the kids who went against the power of the parentals. It is unpleasant to openly rebel, and I have done very little of it, for it is far easier to get what you want through diplomacy and success. Once one gets the powers that be on one’s side then one is invincible. There is, however, a secret pleasure in rebelling, a teenage synapse that excels at this explosive box of kindling, gloriously waiting to erupt in flames. I remember my room was on the second floor of our big, old, white farm house and it had grate over the fireplace room, our living room, and from that secret place the younger kids, my twin sisters and little sister, would gather and listen to the squalls of teen versus parent. It was something we goggled at. The two worshiped gods having at it in a battle that to us resembled Zeus in a tussle with the mighty Poseidon through skies of blood red. It never got physical, and there was no danger of it becoming so, but the arguments were none the less reverenced and respected.
This is why in a big family, the three parts are clearly defined. The first part hangs together and thinks alike, as does the second and third. Early in life the parts stick almost wholly together except for a few friendships and minglings. As everyone grows older the divisions become more shaky, but still blatantly obvious. The lines of division are not personal, or intended, but come about through the division of experience. Age groups discover and develop at a separate rate. Understanding becomes mutual, and the enjoyments shared are unique.
This is why Rob is still more of a god to me, although less than the times when I was younger. He does not share in the brotherly experience I share with mike, or my other brothers. He is out of country, out of family unity, and out of societal acceptance. But, now he is a more of a personal god, when before he was a far off intangible one. I share emails with him, he critiques my writing, and takes interest in my future. So does Mike, but with Mike, I run, I work, I have more of a brother experience. They are brothers, but are like Poseidon and Hades. Mike the former and Rob the latter. Both are to me sacred, I sail on the sea and partake livelihood from it, but the fires in me boil and flare in the murmurs from prayer to the land of Acheron. It is far off, but its attraction is strong. Perhaps I will never visit the dark avenues of the gold smelter, but from his process I learn to find the precious flakes buried inside.
My soul is torn in three ways now, my adult formation tugged by three powers that have the greatest weight. Zeus demands that I obey his religious trappings and concepts, following the road paved for me. Poseidon offers a strange stability in a route of a rockier, but paved still, offering unique self reliance and ownership. A life of hard dedication at the mast, but free to go where the wind blows. And Hades, he offers a path unknown. A path of tangled thorns and twisted branches. Fiery realms that will melt down all falsehood and misconceptions of self and leave you crisp and defined, if insane. A life with out stability, without focus, that is until you find “it.” It is the philosophical route, one I have always loved. And this perhaps is the reason I still worship this god. Hades offers pain, yes, but also something eerily fresh. A life in which you can be master, ruling your life free from all societal and religious chains and expectations.
One does not have to flee the country, societal realms, and expectations to do this, there are many paths on which to become a complete self sufficient sailor, but with the dependability on associates and help from all powers that be. My gods do not demand focused worship. They all give parts of themselves and watch what I do with those parts. I am molding them into one ideal, one form which I call “self.” The tugging is felt, but as I dig, as I look into myself and into my abilities, I reach out and touch a form, something tangible yet still to be understood. Creativity, philosophy, hard work, determination, love of family, and independence weaving together in the mat of my soul. No one god can be adored with all the soul, but all loved with a bit of understanding.