What I Knew In My Twenties Would Fill A Thimble Compared To Now
Lessons And Growth In An Unbelieved Life
To start with, life should be filled with the things that make us proud. So, why is it that we all have so much of the same thing--regret? Regret should be a pseudonym for lessons. It is the word most used when we get to that daunting point of self-introspection. What I've learned over time, thanks to those regrets, has made me into who I am today.
I would sound like I was tooting my own horn if I was being completely transparent, but to do anything else would be disingenuous. So I'll be transparent about my life when it came to women. To put it mildly, I've had the privilege of "knowing" more than a few. The lessons I've learned from each failed relationship could fill more than one or two books. Perhaps, in a real way, I should write them and sell them to the "For Dummies" line of books as how to's, or rather, what not to do's.
The one thing that I'll admit I've learned, and am sure that I've mastered, is that with a combined total of 23 years of my dating life spent as a single male, I know absolutely nothing about women. Ladies, you are the most complicated of the human species, in intriguing, interesting, exciting, and bewildering ways. Perhaps I'd be that happily married guy if things had gone differently. That would require that there wasn't a point in time I became "gun shy."
Women are all different. They come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, educations, regions, countries, etc... If you find any two that want the same thing, believe the same thing, or act the same, then you found a cloned human that was probably made in a lab called Clonaid. This is what makes women so exciting to us. For all the griping, whining, and complaining men do about their wives, girlfriends, or significant others, we wouldn't have it any other way.
As an officer and a rebellious teenager, I've been in more than a few fights. My former Captain once joked with me about the hundreds of fights I had been in and if there were hundreds then I was in the wrong career. For having lost only six fights I'd have a better average than most fighters who are past their prime after a long career in the pugilistic arts.
The lesson I learned toward the end of my first career was that there's always someone that's faster, stronger, or just flat out, hits harder. It was my last fight that changed my life. I walked away from it, even though the guy was trying to finish me off. When I walked away from it, thanks to post-concussion-syndrome, and what was shown to be poor medical care, I was never going to be the same.
Life is like a fight, the ultimate fight. Nothing will ever hit you as hard as life. It'll pound on you, kick you, beat you, and put you down for good if you let it. Fighting taught me more than one lesson. It taught me that the darkest of beings, the evilest of doers, were just men-not to be feared, but to be stopped before they do more harm. It also taught me to fight back from being on the ground, from being down, and that life isn't over until you stop fighting.
Parenting is not an exact science like mathematics or computer sciences. There are no simple answers to parenting and none of us were ever given a manual on how to manage our kids. We do the best we can, with the knowledge that we have, and hope that our kids do better in life than we have. That is, after all, what every generation is supposed to want, that the next generation does better than the last.
Parenting doesn't end when our kids hit "that age" where they shouldn't need us. That age is just a number on paper, an educated guess by psychology today, and a belief based on the age of majority. It doesn't change the fact that they're going to need our advice, our counsel, and our support for long after 18 or 21.
Plans are just outlines of what life is supposed to be. They are the things that we hope to accomplish one day, then there are the inevitable twist and turns. Detours happen in life.
My first big detour in life was during my senior year in high school. My girlfriend at the time says "we need to talk" and I knew there were going to be changes coming. Parenthood was upon me and it was going to require a commitment that most 19-year-old boys don't have within them.
The next major detour came in the form of a divorce. Divorce led to single parenting. Single parenting led to changing my approach to my career because being a street cop was a dangerous vocation. Corrections, while just as dangerous, is a more controlled level of threat than officers face on the street. So, I made my choice to focus on corrections because it was a decent-paying gig that would afford me the ability to take care of my son.
Life throws detours in our path from time to time and my last one came when I could simply no longer do correctional work as an officer. The same year I made this decision, the booming job market, and the strongest economic times I had seen in years, were decimated by the pandemic. One thing I picked up from life was that the one skill I possessed capable of pulling me through anything was my ability to adapt and survive. It's not only done me justice but it's helped me to find myself and my passion at nearly 50 years old.
What lessons I'll learn tomorrow, and the day after that, have yet to reveal themselves and when they come I'll take them head-on, one at a time, until I defeat the hurdles life throws at me.