Reading and Writing, the Basics of Life

You, as the reader of this blog, and I suppose there may be only two or three of you for I do not seek the popularity and other bull shit of life, may well wonder why this title, this subject.  All my life I have been something of a contrary minded child since my family forced me into that role so early in life.  I was not the easy child, much too curious about the world and yet pushing for that sense of place that never really was mine,  We gifted children usually find life a bit strange when it comes to fitting in with others.  So began my early childhood education years, ones of great disappointment to my parents and in particular my mother, whose constant thought I was constantly failing on purpose, just to make her life miserable and so that the neighbors could wag their tongues.  I never thought the neighbors really cared whether one in the neighborhood was doing rather poorly unless it was to stimulate their own children with the warning to watch out and don’t be like me.  But life is often a card shark and will deal your hand from the bottom if you aren’t watching carefully.  I wan’t born cute or handsome, I broke my arm at the age of seven and it never healed correctly, wouldn’t bend at the elbow, so I became a cripple and that threw my normal physical development into an arrest that took so many years learning how to compensate.  But I continued my contrary ways in defiance of public school systems and educational institutions.  One of those compensations I learned was how to read well.  I have always been a daydreamer, but of course today I would be diagnosed as having attention deficit syndrome and would be given pills to correct my behavior.  What a crock of crap.  I wonder how many children are permanent damaged due to doctors and their cursed syndromes and pills.

I was lucky, I escaped through my reading.  Of course there was the testing in sixth grade and the program to boost reading speeds.  I supposed it worked, I know my reading went from 400 words a minute to 650 words a minute.  Not that it really mattered to me, I read at that comfortable speed I liked so well.  Besides, I would often think about what I was reading even while I was reading it.  Didn’t you know that caused me to reread a lot of passages.  Of course the dyslexia didn’t help with my comprehension, but I corrected for that later on as a young adult, I reread passages occasionally just to be sure.  Writing was very difficult for me not because I turned letters around in the normal dyslexic manner one often reads in education journals, but because my mind raced on through its thoughts and my hand could not keep up.  My normal writing was a jumble of run-on sentences and sentence fragments that often made little sense.  I grew to hate writing, it always made me so nervous, made me feel like a fool and a failure.

Reading, on the other hand was that singular success story that belonged to me and me alone.  That joy of reading what you felt like reading, what interested you in the world and how it worked, this was that indescribable joy that no teacher could ever take away.  And much of what I read I kept hidden from my mother, dad didn’t care, he was too immersed in work at that time.  Besides, I hated being around him, he was a violent man and I was often the target of his anger.  I would leave before long before graduation and find my own way in the world.  I loved the forbidden, the immoral, the rank and rude literature that was the anathema of every high school teacher and protestant minister in the world.  New worlds opened before my eyes, new delights dancing on the pages beckoning with the allure of what I had always so wanted in my own life.  My mother cried and my father cursed, I held firm and would not cede from the line I had drawn before them.  I don’t think they ever understood, I don’t think they could, let alone wanted that understanding.  They were too blinded by their own ideal and too intimidated by their own shortcomings.  No, reading became a way of living and a way of understanding, a way to compensate for the experience I didn’t have.

Fiction was not one of those ideas I could readily accept.  Fiction was far too boring for my mine.  Who reads all this made up stuff anyway, I thought.  It’s not real and no one cares.  Let me learn about the world, let me see what makes it tick.  But most of all, let me understand what I can know.  I loved libraries, that candy store for the mind.  Where do we start, how many books can i read at one time?  I taught myself how to keep as many as eight books going at the same time.  Get to the end of a chapter in one book and change over to another and then another, keep it up for as long as eight or nine hours at a time and never miss a beat.  Did you ever do that?  Did you ever feel like you could keep reading until all those books made perfect sense?  And think about what I read, my god, that was great.  Sum it up, examine it, turn it over in my mind the way I could rotate a three dimensional figure in my mind, make it dance and perform.  Only later after I let so much soak in did I come to realize that many of these ideas had faults, discrepancies and false assumptions.

The I learned how to write non fiction.  Well, when one complains about the lack of documentation and you get to be it, the one to dig out all that information and put it in some kind of order, assemble it in a particular context, and then play editor to make sure what you wrote was what you intended to write, then you learn about writing and making words, sentences, and ideas clear.  Writing was hard at first, pensive and tentative, afraid of mistakes and misquotes, missing whole ideas because one wasn’t careful, one wasn’t researching and learning enough to put on paper what should be there.  Every page a blank, waiting for the first hint of ink to hit the paper and the first regrets to appear before the ink is dry.  Even now I feel that way, words and ideas do not always come so easy.  How many times did I watch portrayals of writers pause, look up in thought, and then with a fury unknown to normal humans fill a page with scratch after scratch of writing?  I always wished I could do that, be that particular writer and wave my hands about the paper as I filled it time and time again until a new sheet was called forth to receive my ideas in rapid secession.  Well, thank god for spell check, at least I don’t have to figure in thumbing through the dictionary looking for a word I cannot spell correctly and finding that it won’t appear unless I find it by accident.

But this is life, this is what we do, how we live from one day to the next until first a week passes and then a month and finally a year and it’s time for a birthday.  Now everyone wants passion, they want to feel passionate about their work as if somehow they are missing the best part of life.  You want to know what it’s like having a passion for you work, for your job?  I’ll tell you what it like.  I worked outside construction for the Telephone company and for five years my job was cable maintenance, repair of cable pairs that fed your telephone.  You telephone doesn’t work so you find a way to report that your telephone doesn’t work.  Maybe it takes an hour for me to get your report from the test desk man who looked at your telephone line and set.  He sees the trouble is outside somewhere, so I get the ticket and two hours or less your telephone is now working perfectly.  I used to live for that job.  I spent five years putting telephone cables together in all conceivable manners and now I got to repair the problems that can happen with this outside telephone cable system.  It was a challenge of wits.  Seldom did any trouble ever get the best of me.  Each morning I woke up without the need for an alarm clock because I couldn’t wait to go to work.  That is what passion is for your job.  I lived for troubles to fix.  And when we didn’t have any I went about find ways to correct problems that might lead to troubles later.  The outside plant in our area was old and in need of replacing, but we had to keep it working until the PUC would allow and the company could allocate the money to do so.  For five years I worked so much overtime that form one year to the next I consistently averaged twelve to fourteen hundred hours of overtime.  Most of it was in the worst weather when the rains, the snows, and the cold made working very miserable.  Yet I love it, I loved the challenge of working sixty and seventy and eighty hour weeks.  My personal best was 104 hours one week and the 96 the next.  You can’t imagine being so bone weary tired after six or seven months of those kinds of hours.  Yet I had that passion, that need to do, until one day I saw that the work had become all too boring.  I had seen almost all the different kinds of troubles and there was nothing left.  It was all the same and it was boring me to tears.  So I went into high tech electronics where I could apply the same passion.  That need to excel, to learn, to become as expert as I could.

So Now I’ll tell you about that thing called passion.  It wears out, it dies.  The job will never love you no matter how much you love it and are willing to sacrifice for it.  I took to high tech with a passion and for fifteen minutes I had my fame.  But high tech never loved me back.  It was hard to walk away, to leave all those years.  Oh I had help, it’s called being perceived as being too old, of being a dinosaur and unable to comprehend the new technology.  Hell, I wrote some of that new technology.  We throw people with knowledge away like they were cans of foodstuffs past their expiration dates.  So I turned my back on all that technology and passion I once had for it.  I gave away eight thousand dollars worth of technical books to Goodwill because I will never again work in that field and I no longer have an interest in learning more about it.  You see, passion is over rated, it is destructive, it is an opiate that takes the life out of you.  No, just live and think about doing without loving it.  Smell the roses along the way because passion won’t, it can’t.  It consumes, uses up, dries out, and kills the very thing that it has lived off so so many years.  I’ll stick to reading and thinking and writing.  I’m not paid to do so, so it won’t get old and stale and each morning I can wake up with new eyes to see this world in all its glories and debaucheries.  That is the basics of life, always has been and always will be.

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