Real Life

I wish to spark real conversations about life, love, lust, and anything in between

Chippewa Elementary School

It was 1980 something on Long Island, New York. I went to Chippewa elementary school. Like any elementary school most kids at that age were average in height and I was no different. There were a few taller than average and a few shorter than average exceptions but for the most part we were all about the same height.

Oregon Middle School

In middle school (still 1980 something) it was basically the same but there were more than a few exceptions. Seriously, the entire (well almost) school was experiencing puberty so there was a lot of growing going on and not just in height. Every school had clicks including, but not limited to, the Burnouts, the Jocs, the Preps, the Goths and the Skinheads. (I know its probably politically incorrect to classify people like this but hey, it was the 80’s.) Everyone in my click was about the same height.

Sachem High School

In high school things were clearly different. First, it was obvious that all those raging hormones found their place. Second, we had girlfriends and boyfriends! All of my girlfriends were shorter than I was.

At Home

Ahhh, home sweet home. This was the house I grew up in. Well, not this house exactly-actually, it looked nothing like this. It’s been remodeled a dozen times since we moved.

My mom stood at 5 feet 1 inch tall-my dad was 5 feet 7 inches-my sister was 5 feet and 0 inches tall. At 5 feet 8 inches I was the tallest person in our house! And all of my aunts and uncles were average height except for one. My uncle Eddie on my dad’s side was 6 feet tall. But the only time I spent with him was when I was 7 or 8 years old and every adult is a giant at that age. I had a few cousins that were tall but, everyone that I spent most of my time with was short. I was taller than them all. Naturally I felt like I was 6 feet tall.

One Day

It was really more like one decade. And it was from 1999 (Party!) to 2009 that I was introduced to reality. And it wasn’t one incident either it was a compilation of happenings. Things like walking towards another man in anger, who from a distance appeared to be shorter than me (because I was bigger than everyone close to me!) but upon closer inspection I was mistaken. Or, after hugging my 6 feet tall father in-law for the first time and noticing that my head falls under his chin as he says, “love you”. It was this compilation of happenings and many more that brought me to the realization that I had a disorder that had not yet been named-I called it The Opposite of Short Man Syndrome. It comes from having nothing but people that are shorter than you in your life and not having spent enough up-close time with the taller ones. This is not a real syndrome (not yet anyway). I’m sure you all know this. I liken myself to the cow was abandoned by its herd and raised to believe it was a dog. You can find that story here.

Now

My 14 year old son is 1 inch taller than me (really?) and he hasn’t learned what personal space is yet so I get plenty of up-close time with him.

Needless to say the more I age the more I become aware of who I am and more importantly what I wasn’t-6 feet tall.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

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What is the meaning of life?

People have been asking and answering this question for millennia.

If you asked 100 people, “what is the meaning of life?” you’d get 100 different answers. I am one of those 100 and this is my answer.

Some people believe that life is about suffering for the sake of the after life. Their philosophy is that the more you suffer in this life the greater your reward will be in the next.

While others believe that there is only this life and you should live it to the fullest no matter what the cost or consequence.

Forrest Gump’s mom once said, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” and boy was she right!

I have to be honest. As a young twenty something I didn’t really know what that meant. Trust me, I haven’t dwelled on it for the last twenty something years. I mean, I understood that when you opened this box of chocolates and chose one it could taste like a week old everything bagel with scallion cream cheese or cashews and nougat and that the chocolates represented the different ups and downs in life but I hadn’t experienced enough ups and downs to really know what she meant. Well, I spent the next twenty something years learning.

As a young adult with almost no responsibilities the meaning of life was the last thing I was thinking about. I was more interested in friends, fashion and fun! I was single and free! Riding around in my Lincoln Mark Vll (I know no one knows what that is but I LOVED it!) blasting whatever I wanted to, usually Eminem, Missy Elliot or The Cranberries. Without social media how much more social could a life get?

But as you grow in mind and body your experience grows with you. You find the love of your life and settle down. You learn the ins and outs of your relationship. You understand that no one is perfect. You begin to develop a sense of care, gratitude and compassion for other people, especially your significant other.

Now your relationship has evolved to the point where you agree to have kids or you are taken by surprise and suddenly you have mouths to feed! Once this happens your priorities change. You go from thinking only of yourself and the love of your life to feeding, bathing and protecting your precious little versions of you!

Up until this point my life seemed to have no meaning. Maybe it was because nothing in my past came close to being this important. What could be more important than being responsible for another human being? Seriously, this wasn’t a tamagotchi (for the younger readers, it was a 90’s digital pet)! This was it! The real deal! A kid!

When I found out that I was going to be a father I panicked. My first thought was to run! All I could think about was, “how could I raise a child?” I wasn’t equipped for this! “Knowing” the many ways I believed my parents had failed me. But I resisted the urge. I don’t know if it was some sort of survival instinct that kicked in or if at that exact moment I had just become an adult but after 24 hours of deep contemplation I realized that this was what I was meant to do. This was my life’s meaning. What is life without reproduction? We’re born, we live, we die?

I’m raising that child and 4 others. I wasn’t 100% equipped for the first but no one ever is no matter how much you prepare. You can read books, listen to family advice but you never really know until you experience it for yourself.

A younger person will say life is long while an older person will say life is short. While both are not wrong the reality is we only have so much time. Take care of those that you love and that love you. Make the most of every opportunity.

“Live every day as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right”-Muhammad Ali

I’d rather bathe in bricks than be at the end of my road wishing I had done something that I really wanted to but never made time for.

“You may not know exactly what the chocolate you choose will taste like unless you’ve had it before”-Real Life

“But if you check the key card that comes in the box you’ll be better informed to make a decision”-Wisdom

While we all may have a different perspective on what the meaning of life may be I’d like to think that we can all relate to Bessie Anderson Stanley-Live, Laugh, Love. This, we can all agree, is good for life.

So, what is the meaning of life? It depends on who’s eyes you’re behind.

I am who I am and nothing else…who are you?

Thanks for reading!

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