Have you ever wished you could go back and live your life as a child knowing what you know now? It crossed my mind a time or two and knowing that it was never going to happen, I was left with the guilt of having lived and later perpetuated the lies of childhood. Maybe the word LIE is a little strong but we ARE the most advanced society in the world and yet, we have institutionalized the idea of some old guy with a team of flying reindeer that delivers toys to nearly every house on the planet in one night. Similarly, we have a rabbit the walks upright and averages about 6 feet tall, brings goodie baskets and hides colored eggs. And what about this fairy that buys used teeth?
The reality is that our parents lied to us all the time, but they did it for our own good. I had a good chuckle when I wrote that and as facetious as I may come across, I do know that most of the lies we were told were done in gone faith. They were all part of the life lessons and experiences we had growing up which helped to mold us into who we are.
Not all of our life experiences as children involved a lie and there are certain ones that truly define us. They can be related to a specific instance, like the death of a loved one or a major accomplishment. They can even be tied to our self esteem. These are the ones that have the most profound impact on how we relate to and interact with others and how we approach problem solving throughout our lives. I know the events in my life that fundamentally defined me. Nearly all of my successes and failures in life can be linked in one way or another to these events. I did not have to allow it to turn out that way, but we are all predisposed to modeling our behavior as a result of certain influences. A painful event will typically influence us to avoid any behavior or scenarios that will cause us to relive that type of pain. Likewise a positive event might cause us to lean in the direction of the type of behavior that created those conditions. Some events we experience cannot be replicated, but we look for opportunities to revive them in some other way. This is not a hard and fast rule, just another day at the office for most of us. We do not think about all the things in our young lives that could be with us consciously or subconsciously as we grow older, influencing our behavior. Simply put, if as a child we touch a hot stove, there is a good chance it will only happen once out of curiosity. For the rest of our lives, we are a lot more careful around the stove.
With that said, there are many things I remember about my childhood that I would rather just forget. There is always going to be that one moment that is absolutely horrifying at eleven years old that you would not trade for anything in the world at 45. I have had more than my fair my share of those, like setting my pants on fire while playing with sparklers during the 1976 Bicentennial New Year celebration. I know exactly where I was standing and what I was doing. I can even see that hideous brown, tan, white and red striped pullover shirt I was wearing. I know we all essentially go through the same things growing up (not sure how many of you actually set your pants on fire) but do we go through the same phases? Some will say yes but I have never heard anyone talk about what I would refer to as my awakening. Stay with me on this.
I have often wondered if everybody else had the same sort of awakening experience that I had as a child. I know exactly where I was. I was with my parents by the old lumber company that was in the huge Quonset hut near the intersection of Massachusetts and Fairfield. Remember that place? It was down the road from Tomkins Market. That is the first memory I have, almost as if I appeared out of nowhere that day. I must have been about three or four years old and I can remember being in that old Falcon station wagon looking around at everything like I had just popped out of a box thinking, Woah! Here I am! It was this incredible feeling of awakening and of being in control of my own thoughts and actions. Not really…I mean, I was only three (or four), but it was still very liberating. The internet is littered with stories of personal awakening, but what I am talking about here is my earliest memory of anything. It was one fleeting moment in my life that I can recall so vividly that it was almost as if that was the day that I began my journey through life, with my own thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams. I have continued to live my life with that moment in mind. I am so ready to revive that feeling and still trying to figure out how!