Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Left Handed, Four Eyed, Small Town & Catholic - and they call me Lucky???


Part II.

Okay, we survived Part I which was somewhat unusual but I do feel the DNA coding, which we do indeed inherit, is an important element in the story of the wayward Iowa Hayseed.

Think about it.  DNA just might be the direct link to God since most of us blame Him or Her for giving it to us in the first place.

In fact there are any number of critical life elements that we don't control like inheriting the DNA.  There is the family you join, the country, state, town or village and your family status in your town that have major impacts on your life and you don't control.

Then there are the race, cultural, religion, language and a host of other major issues in your life and again you have no control.

Wait a minute.  What about the most significant influences on your life?  Start with Survival 101 - your parents, Survival 102 - your grandparents  and Survival 103 - the elementary. secondary and higher education teachers you didn't choose.

Add to that the millions of variables that make up your life for instance how many siblings, their gender and their attitudes.  Toss a few dozen relatives and priests, ministers, mullahs or rabbis into the mix and you've got yourself one powerful cocktail.

What do these amazingly varied and seemingly unrelated components of your life all have in common?

In spite of the fact your day of atonement and moment of judgment will come from whoever your divine God might be, you are being judged on a whole bunch of factors and standards you did not control!

You did not create!

You did not choose!

Yet are the measuring sticks for your judgment.

Don't know about you but I feel I have just made a powerful case against the use of "free will" as a determining factor for judgment day.

There is nothing "free" about those varied components of our lives and it is about time we not be held responsible for all those impediments to the exercise of genuine "free will" on our part.

They are all someone else's "will" being unfairly imposed on our life.

That compelling argument and consequential attitude should get me off the hook on a whole lot of stuff when I stand before St. Peter awaiting judgment at the gate.

You see there is no other logical explanation on why this Iowa Hayseed set out on his Quixote-like adventure reflected in this story.  In an early life aptitude test from grade school I was asked what I wanted to do in life.

My unacceptable response was , " I just want to learn about everything and I just want to experience everything".  Needless to say, my parents and siblings could never understand me, and the nuns and priests could never quite get their hands around that attitude.

As for me, I created my own world full of the people, characters, places and things I liked, wanted to know, or wished I had experienced, co-mingling at will the real, the imagined and the fantasized in a most demanding world.

In truth I was my own best inspiration and worst enemy from before I can even remember.

It did not take long in life to realize other people were clueless about me and my ways and they would never be in a position to fairly judge me because of that.  If I was to survive life it would be up to me to create and enforce my education and understanding and therefore achieve the knowledge I hoped to get from life.

As a result, I was the judge, jury and executioner over what I achieved in life and let me tell you I was no slacker when it came to evaluating my performance.  No one was more demanding on me nor could they be because only I knew my real potential.

In the end, experiences built my life, not education and opportunity.  I found ways to compensate for all the opportunities I would never know.

When you think of it, just how much should you expect from an Iowa Hayseed?  I wanted to be judged not on my knowledge of the art of composting cow manure but on the ancient Greek teachings of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle.

One might say I was truly out of my element.

As for the sibling stuff, well that was some form of prepenance, like being found guilty in confession before I even knew the sins.

Like many post-war families in the era of the baby boomer, I was born the very first year of the baby boomers, in 1946.  Yes, the first post World War II babies born under the cloud of the atomic bomb radiation still circling the earth waiting to catch a ride in the rain.

Of course one like me could never be the FIRST child.  That one, born 13 months earlier just before the bombs were dropped, was appropriately called Michael, as in the Archangel Michael, God's greatest defender.

Me, I was just plain Jim and at times my Mother was pretty convinced I was sent by demons to terrorize her precious Archangel Michael.  Why not!  When you're a one syllable afterthought what other purpose is there to serve?

Anyway the Archangel got that name only because Jesus had already been taken here on earth.  Either one was an adequate indication of Archangel Michael's potential as savior of the universe in the eyes of his Mother.

One time she was talking about the Immaculate Conception and almost said his birth was about the same magnitude though I compared it to more like an 8.4 earthquake on the Richter scale.

Exactly 13 months after my birth along came Robert, (I called him Bosco), the real demon as Mother would have known had she paid attention to anyone but the Archangel.

That left me on my own and Bosco under my tutelage as far as surviving our youth and that was fine with us since we had the advantage of being outside observers to the care and proper raising of an Archangel.

I always wondered if my Mother ever thought those two demons she had might have had more to do with her Catholic intolerance for birth control than being the object of some supernatural plague out to get her Archangel.

You would think a Mother who scored the Archangel Michael her first try would stop trying to improve on the original with more kids just destined to be in the way of the Holy One.

The Archangel was born in a three piece suit and always wore a proper hat.  The poor soul could not stand being dirty, abhorred getting dirt or mud on his hands or clothes, and always expected his underwear to be ironed and his shoes to be shined, by someone else.

Parental brainwashing assured he expected to be the leader of the pack and it was the responsibility of the pack to demonstrate loyalty by paying dues to be in his presence.

Needless to say, my younger brother and I did not share in his world view nor desire to be part of his fascist kid's club.

I had a couple of advantages over my brothers to offset the many disadvantages and most important was my obsessive compulsion to read and write, something they found overly demanding with little downside reward.

Thus I was the gatekeeper for all the knowledge of the universe found in books and I could communicate what I learned to others through the ability to write.

For quite different reasons they both settled on me being rather odd although Bosco did find my adventures far more interesting and challenging than those of the Archangel.  In my fantasy world getting dirty was normal, getting in trouble was noteworthy and getting someone mad was worth a merit badge.

For the most part our childhood memories consisted of the Biblical life style of the Archangel and the chaos and confusion of the afterthoughts.

Except for the scripted interaction from the parents in which the Archangel was to bestow on us his favor, we lived separate lives.  So separate that neither we nor the Archangel has any memories of the three of us being buddies or hanging out throughout childhood.

I did with my brothers what was required by the laws of God and nature but that was the extent of it.  Beyond that I created a new world of boundless creative endeavors, the aggressive pursuit of knowledge, and the ability to instantly leap into the Land of Oz, Wonderland, Camelot or even the Alamo and still escape.

By kindergarten my path was set when I joined the Public Library Book Reading Club and won many honors for reading the most books each month.  It was the first of my activities intended to separate me from my siblings as neither would be caught dead in a library book club.

Because of my pursuit of information I soon learned what the kids in Russia, China and Europe learned long ago, that we should not overlook the potential of our grandparents as a source of information and knowledge.

Interestingly, my grandparents on both the Putnam and Campbell sides found my curiosity to be charming and spent a lot of time sharing their knowledge with me and I shall forever be grateful.  I was far more comfortable in the company of adults than kids.

By the time I was in third grade I found kids to be quite naive as they knew nothing about world affairs, politics or history.  Yet every weekend Grandfather Campbell would test me on current events that week expecting me to have read Time and Life magazines before I saw him for Sunday brunch.  Of course he didn't know I also read Popular Science, National Geographic and Boys Life.

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