Monday, June 7, 2010

The Pete Morin Editorial Review--Issue #49

A life changing experience

Many things happen in a person's lifetime that add little or nothing to the mundane activities of daily life, but every so often, or perhaps rarely, an event comes along that has a profound effect on how one examines his/her place on this place called 'earth'.

As with most people, I've had my share of mundane experiences that can readily come to mind, but are not to be considered anything more than ordinary.

As an example, when I was five years old, I remember cowering in my bed under all the blankets as an electrical storm raged outside my house. When you're a child you make up all kinds of scary circumstances that whirl around in a juvenile brain. As the storm was raging, I decided that I would count down from three and when I hit zero a tremendous bang would envelope the entire house. Three-two-one----ZERO-----BANG!!!! I jumped from my bed and headed like a shot to my parents room and quickly burrowed my way deep into the safety of their presence. The bang was a bolt of lightning that hit a giant tree and entered the house in the living room. My father rushed downstairs and had to extinguish the smoldering curtains and completely destroyed radio in the corner of the room. To this day my wife can't understand why I retreat to the basement when an electrical storm passes overhead.

Also when I was five my tonsils were removed. I can still remember being strapped to a gurney so tight that I was unable to move a single muscle. As the mask containing ether (the standard method of anesthesia for that time) was placed over my mouth the nurse asked me to start counting down from ten. Needless to say, I don't remember getting past eight, but afterwards when my parents came to visit I thought it was great that ice cream was available in copious amounts whenever I wanted it. The only negative part--besides the operation--was having to sleep in a large room with, what must have been, a dozen screaming little kids. Strange how you can remember in such vivid detail an occurrence that happened almost sixty years ago.

Deaths to loved ones can be very difficult, but it certainly isn't unexpected. The passing of a mother, father, brother or sister can be devastating yet we figure out how to overcome such trials. At my mother's wake my older brother Art gave out ersatz engagement rings to any unsuspecting women close enough to be engaged with his charm and beguile. Perhaps this was his way of getting beyond his sorrow. Art had already exhibited his grief at the private family showing of my mom's casket. I can still see him calling her name softly as if had wished he could have seen her one last time.

Personally, what I consider to be my authentic life changing experience came when I was in my third day of training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in May, 1968. As I sat between bunks stenciling my name on my naval issue cloths, I started to feel a loneliness and an urge to cry. Suddenly, from deep within me, a voice told me to shape up and grow up. It was time for me to leave youth behind; I was a man now and should act like one. The voice gave me the strength to face the next four years and all the years after; for I was now, most definitely, a man. Nothing as compelling has changed my life since that moment of reflection on the floor in a far away barracks.

We all should have life changing experiences, so let me hear yours. Right a comment on what you think you're most compelling moment was. It may help you recognize your own growth to adulthood.

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