“Don’t know which one is worse, doing your own thing or just being cool.” Bob Dylan
I vividly remember as a child that I didn’t fit in. I was always on the outside looking in, far from being cool or accepted. Being the shortest boy in the class really didn’t help much. I was bullied by older children much larger in size. Perhaps I was tougher pound for pound but I was very low in weight so I found it a losing proposition.
Unstable conditions at home led me to be violent. I would walk up to other children and simply punch them. Of course all the mocking and name calling I received didn’t help me much. Fortunately for me I always had a handful of friends. Still I was very dissatisfied with life, and unhappy.
So when the time came to go to college I wanted desperately to fit in. I went to engineering school so I was ahead of the curve socially. I got caught up in a fraternity which in many ways was wonderful. I made a lot of ‘friends’ or so I thought. I also started to drink alcohol. Following the lead of my friends my substances increased to marijuana and hallucinogenics. It was a classical case of peer pressure and despite all of my ‘intelligence’ and forewarning I couldn’t even recognize it.
Christianity came along as did my mental illness. Both had a very profound effect upon my life. Without hope in God for a better day I am quite confident I would have killed myself. If suffering from severe depression affords anything it is time to think. And so I pondered life and questioned so much of what society presented. At this point I began to discover who exactly I was.
The world is full of lies. For example, I was taught, by my peers, to hate African Americans. Very early in life I would hear disparaging jokes about darker skinned people and their stereotypes. In reflection, I am one hundred percent certain, that all of these children telling these jokes had zero contact with African Americans. As I lived life I found out to discover that all these prejudices were nothing more than broad generalities and lies.
I recall visiting my friend for the first time in the South Bronx. I carried my Bible with me on the subway hoping it would bring me some protection. I was told after all that the ‘ghetto’ was a violent place. My wife is from Grenada and darker skinned and to be perfectly honest I find it more comfortable for us to be in the ‘hood’ than in the town where I grew up.
My interest in self and others brought me to an intense period of study. One area I studied was African Americans. I learned about the struggles in their existence and I learned about their different heroes. In the process I also caught a snap shot of humanity. In searching to understand others I came to an understanding of myself.
There is nothing more satisfactory in life then to find out what one loves to do and then do it. For me I have discovered that what I desire most to do in life is write. I am not happier then in moments like these that I can work at my craft of writing.
Fortunately for me that to be a good ‘writer’ one must be able to look at life from many vantage points. I am constantly learning things about the world and maturing intellectually. I am a seeker of the Truth and I have found it, or at least a good healthy chunk of it. Through my Christian experiences I have witnessed various social, racial and economic sub cultures. Everybody sees life different and their views are both contradictory and to some extent valid.
So I encourage you to find yourself. In this quest you will have to go beyond the narrow confines of what you presently are. Question everything and expect to get some hard answers. Let me give you a final warning, “The best looking apple isn’t always the sweetest.”
You can read my story in my memoirs “More Than The Madness” https://johnkaniecki.weebly.com/more-than-the-madness.html