Strong, Long Lasting Memories?


I envy people who live in one area most of their lives, especially their childhood. Children who grow up like that often cannot wait to leave and get away from everything that they know, but how many of them actually realize the value of what they have? As young adults, I would wage that few if any truly see the value of what they have. Give them ten years or so and perhaps they will see it.

What do they have? They have memories. Memories of playing with the same group of kids throughout their childhood. They have memories of people who know them by name on sight, who watch out for them and can be depended upon to lend a helping hand.

Growing up my family was constantly moving, from town to town, state to state, always chasing the next better job, only to find that it was really no better than the one before. Where others have cherished memories of birthday parties, school, and any number of other such things that one acquires growing up, I have dim flashes of scattered mental images. I remember a snowy winter in Happy Camp, CA, sliding down a hillside on my jacket behind the house, and walking across town to the local library for horse magazines. I remember grade school Olympic games in Hoopa, CA, as I gamely tried to keep up with the other children, while constantly hearing derisive comments from the tribal children about my being one of very few white kids in the school. I have a mental picture of tall conifer trees lining the field outside the school. I think that may have been my first grade school.

For the longest time I resented the lack of stability in my life. I isolated myself from friendship because I knew that there was a very good chance I would not be there to see the other kids when school resumed in the fall. This resentment formed the core of my personal resolution to never do the same to my own children should I have them. I promised myself that if possible I would provide my children with the stability that I never had in growing up.

Now, years later, I am a father, and while my children are still quite young, my mind constantly returns to this time in my own life. Now I realize that I can continue to resent that history, and live my life in that resentment, or I can choose to see the value of it instead. What value am I referring to?

Diversity for one thing. Because of constantly moving my selection of playmates was constantly changing. I played with Native Americans, whites, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and who knows what others. Race was never really an issue, and when it was an issue I was typically the one being hassled because I was typically the only white kid in the group. The result was that I learned to treat everyone equally, based upon their own merits.

I also learned about adversity, and how to survive it when it strikes. We always lived close to, if not under the poverty line, but we survived. I learned that cheap is cheap, and not always best, but that if necessary cheap would suffice. As an adult I prefer to buy quality as I know that in the end, while I may pay more initially, in the end I will typically see more life and use out of the quality item than I ever would out of the cheaper equivalent. I learned how to hunker down and weather the storm.

Now, living in the midst of just such a storm as a parent I can look back and really see the things I learned from that experience.

Everything in life is experience, and has inherent value. How you choose to use that value is up to you. I can choose to view my life as one of deprivation and despair, or I can choose to view it as an enriching time that taught me how to survive when those times hit. It is up to me to see and use what value I want from any experience. I could wallow in self-pity, bemoaning my life, or I could leverage what I learned to help my family survive.

I choose to survive, to stand tall, and to fight my way free of depression. Yes, I may be unemployed with no real prospects on the horizon, but I am also getting an opportunity to watch my children grow that many fathers never get. I choose to leverage my resources, and do my best to be an effective steward of the resources being made available to me. I choose to maintain contact with those in my life who lift me up rather than isolating myself as I deal with depression.

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