My parents weren’t what I call “conscious parents.” They were good, caring people who raised eight children, with varying results. By “raised,” I mean they did the best they knew how to give us food, shelter, clothing and the necessities of life. But not with much wisdom or forward thinking. For example, there was no plan to send any of us kids to college. They took it day by day, and so did my brothers and sisters. I always loved Mom and Dad, but it was amazing how much they didn’t know about how to be parents.
LUCKY – For some unaccountable reason – and after 60 years I still can’t quite put my finger on it – I was obsessed with making A’s. Being acknowledged as the No. 1 student in my class was very important to me. I never made a B in 12 years of school and was always first in my class, graduating as valedictorian.
LUCKY – After puberty, in addition to being an Eagle Scout and top student, I was a kind of out-of-control prankster. I was saved from that troubled path when my father was reassigned to Germany, a whole new world, and I put that aspect of my past behind me.
LUCKY – The grades, among other things, helped me get an appointment to West Point. Even though I had never actually lived in Kansas, the Kansas governor appointed me. Four years later I graduated with a B.S. degree in Engineering and a commission in the Regular Army as a second lieutenant.
LUCKY – During my year in Vietnam I went on over 200 combat missions, was decorated several times for valor, and survived. I made it home without a scratch on me. Amazing.
LUCKY – At West Point my English professors liked my work so much they asked me to return to teach English. So the Army paid for my graduate school at Duke University. I worked hard and used the time to fulfill the requirements for a Ph.D. Later my dissertation was accepted and I was granted the degree.
LUCKY – In my 30s I thought of myself as a poet, but 20 years in the Army strengthened the logical part of my brain, and I outgrew that side of me. Today, 100% of my writing is about telling the truth about relationships for parents and teens, to help as many young people as I can grow up strong and skilled to meet the challenges of adult life.
I’ve been lucky in other ways, too. I’m happy with my life and the work I’m doing, and I know it’s the product of a lot of learning and hard work. But truthfully, luck has been a major factor. My life really could have turned out a lot differently without some big breaks. I feel grateful for them, but I don’t know who you’re supposed to thank for good luck. So I simply “feel fortunate.”
Some of my brothers and sisters didn’t have the same luck I had and turned out quite differently. The same is true of a lot of kids. For example, some get lucky and have adult mentors, and others don’t.
These days, I’m busy writing a book for parents. Its purpose is to give them some important knowledge and skills that will help them be “conscious parents,” so their kids won’t have to rely so much on luck. I guess now I’ll need some more luck myself as I search for a good agent and publisher.