That’s a Funny Name…
Who is this Tannish Guy?
I was born in Chicago seven weeks before 1960. I missed out on what people call “the sixties” - being too young to participate. I remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan as a toddler, but that’s about it.
My parents divorced just before then, and my older sister and I followed our mother to California, where she died two years later. I was six when we were flown back to Chicago to meet my father for the second time, there we lived in several apartments in many neighborhoods. Living with my dad was a very roller-coaster experience. Many surrogate parents roamed through the years of my middle childhood through my teens; not all of them taught good lessons. For some reason my sister and I were no comfort to each other so we weathered the storms alone. I went to thirteen different primary schools in two states, staying at the last one for four years. I used to be able to name them all. Middle school found me an uninspired student which the Chicago Public Schools let slide through the cracks of their faulty system, graduating in four and a half years.
My attempt at sending myself through college lasted about five semesters. At the time it was more important to eat than to study, so I settled into several jobs all relating to trees in some way: contracting, lumber yards and building supplies, windows and doors, furniture both fine and not-so-fine, finally settling on book stores. Somewhere in my middle twenties, I tried schooling again in the form of a year-long computer trade school which filled me with just the right amount of ignorance to get me in trouble. Needless to say, programming didn’t work out for me: in the mid-eighties, the job market was flooded with entry-level programmers and I was not so brilliant as to stand out in the crowd. I fell back on retail jobs and played it safe. No-one has ever applauded my ambition, but retail has fed me well enough. Also during that time I met my future spouse. We married in mid-eighties and waited five years for our daughter to arrive. Those two events were the best choices I have made, and I’m proud to provide a stable environment for our daughter to flourish.
The major turning points in my life seemed to occur approximately seven years apart:
- At 6: Mother died.
- At 14: Found my first love: an acoustic guitar.
- At 21: Found my second love: my wife.
- At 30: My daughter was born and I bought my first computer. Enter my Third and Fourth loves.
- At 35: This is the age I was when I began to come to terms with the way my life is going. This project continues.
- At 42: Became a “Born-again Buddhist” (my term) and successfully narrowed down my addictions to one: Coffee. Found myself with a great deal of discretionary “mad money” now that I quit weed and cigarettes, and am happily enjoying the proceeds.
- At 49: I have the esteemed pleasure of seeing my only child off to college. Such a milestone was denied to me. I gladly defer to a most intelligent, hard working and artistic young lady that which was beyond my reach. Congratulations, Brianna - you earned every accolade you have collected!
These days I’m a devoted middle-age family man, living an average american existence: a middle class paycheck, living in an over developed suburb in a house about as old as I am, a yard to mow….ad nauseum. I’ve given up on chasing money, dropped my plans of being a rock star, and approached reality with a low profile. I make my choices carefully and try to keep my eyes wide open. I still have a few lingering issues. I have less problems with rage, these days, and I begin to approach life in a more compassionate manner. Still, I have a tendancy to revert to my old explosive ways, and as there is a modicum of truth in my outbursts, I rarely apologize for them. I believe that if you can’t take the harsh truth about yourself, it’s time to change. As I’ve often been on the receiving end of this tenet, I am continually trying to improve my relations with humanity in general by dissociating with the people who bring out the worst in me and examining my mental processes.
I now realize our common needs and motivations; we all seek happiness and avoid pain. Few of us actually know how to avoid the pain we bring upon ourselves, and few of us are aware that the pain we feel originate in our own heads, subject to manipulation and control of our willpower, and not by outside forces. Therefore, only we have the power to reverse the pain in our minds. If we actively attempt to pacify ourselves, knowing it is up to us, the world will improve itself - one person at a time. Only when we are at peace with our own lives will we find peace with others.
As for the rest of humanity, I’ll try to be patient if you will. Humanities only hope, after all, is in compassion.
My family coat of Arms