Annoying Questions

Paul’s Random, Annoying Question of the Moment

What things or events in your life have most shaped and influenced your current ambitions and dreams?

I grew up in a family poised right on the Federal Poverty Line.

Mom was the CEO of a small business that could have afforded her a generous income, but for reasons largely having to do with the 1960s, the poor rural town we lived in, her sex, and a misogynistic chairman of her board of directors, mom’s salary sucked.

We had all the necessities.  Food, clothing, shelter.  Never went short of those.

We had few of the luxuries.  Two family vacations in 18 years.  Black and white TV.  Each kid — two toys per year.  One on Christmas, one on your birthday.  etc. etc.

To put Mom’s budget in perspective, she heavily invested what little she could in books for us.

Mom had the right priorities.  She spent dangerous sums of money on books for us.

I believe our poverty affected me different than my two brothers. Both of them sought to escape it by working their butts off in school and later in their jobs. Both are wealthy today.  Older brother is the highly paid head of database management team. Younger brother is a business owner and multi-millionaire.

Me, I turned away from the disappointing world and inward to a life of the mind — a life that poverty could not control, could not restrict, and could not crush.

I found my greatest satisfaction in making sense of things. Not quite in learning things. Learning was great! But making sense of what I’d learned was greater.

Younger brother and I tried to sell lemonade one day.  We put up a stand by the road.

The cars never so much as slowed down to take a look at us.  Two hours and not one customer!  I turned inward. Became deeply curious to figure out why no one was buying our delicious lemonade. Wrapped myself in thought, and lost track of the time.

Younger bro turned outward.  Told me he was going to find us a customer and walked off down the street.

Perhaps an hour, perhaps two hours later he came back with an order for two cups of lemonade — and twenty-five cents.  Ten cents per cup plus five cents delivery fee, a handsome sum that he had demanded be paid up front.

Beyond that, though, I turned to dreams of improving myself.  Instead of focusing on making money, I focused on becoming my ideal of a human.

I guess you could say our poverty growing up gave my brothers their dreams of material success, and gave me my dreams of “spiritual” success.

What things or events in your life have most shaped and influenced your current ambitions and dreams?

2 thoughts on “Paul’s Random, Annoying Question of the Moment”

  1. I left school at 15 and wish I had stayed. Two reasons I left. First reason. I hated half of the teachers with a passion. They were not there to teach but to discipline. Second reason. I lived in a very poor neighbourhood and schooling was not encouraged. The idea was to leave school as soon as legally possible and earn money for the family. Half the salary went to the family. It was a different era.

    Liked by 1 person

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