Here’s the elevator version: I was born in Tokyo, Japan, then went to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then Lima, Peru and then Montevideo, Uruguay, all before I was ten. At thirteen, I was sent to boarding school in San Marcos, Texas, where I went to class and drank some beer. Then I went to Texas A&M for a semester and drank some beer and went to some classes. Then I went to LSU for a couple of semesters and drank beer. Then I hitchhiked to California and joined the Marine Corps before the draft board called my number.
I drank some more beer in the Corps, but got a few pointers on life in those three years.
After that, I got married, had four kids, lived in Oakland, New Orleans, Atlanta, New York, New Orleans again, and Vero Beach, where I intend to stay, having gotten sober here twenty-seven years ago. Some would say it was an interesting life. Seen through the bottom of a beer bottle, it was OK…maybe.
I am grateful for one thing about the first fifty years of my life: All of my children have grown up to be terrific people in spite of me. On the other hand, I don’t regret one damn minute of that dysfunctional era. I wouldn’t want to do it over, but the experience gave me a lot to think about since I’ve been trying to grow up.
And, for me, it’s all about growing up. Emotional development stops when an alcoholic starts drinking alcoholically. That’s why so many alcoholics are jerks. I was a fifty year old teenager when I stopped drinking. But, never mind, the journey out of that miasma has been nothing short of wonderful.
As I slowly got my wits about me, I tried to figure life out. What are the priorities, I’ve wanted to know. David Brooks, in his book, The Road To Character, posits that we are in a contest within ourselves with divergent goals: resume virtues, and eulogy virtues. Things to brag about, satisfy the ego, and actions to nurture the soul.
My ego is never satisfied. Trying to give that sucker what he wants is a thankless task. Time spent doing the next right thing is better.
Brother Timothy, a Benedictine monk I knew, gave succinct homilies when he preached at mass. “If you just be good, you’ll be fine,” he said. I don’t have a better idea.
The quest, then, is what does it mean to be good? I think it comes down to my relationship with you. If we’re about you, it’s good. If we’re about me, not so.
I was seventy-six a few days ago. I’m fit enough and fully engaged in my work. I trade futures, something that I can do until I croak and they find me slumped over the quote machine, I guess.
I’m blessed with a wonderful soul mate in Cindy, my wife of twenty-three years. She just makes me better. Between us, we have six kids, six kids’ spouses/sig. others, and an even dozen of the best grand kids on the planet. All a joy to hang with.
The shot of me was taken by Bob Craig. Still half in the shadows, but emerging. That’s enough about me.