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Viewing Things From A Distance

“When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical, And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily, Oh joyfully, playfully watching me” Richard Davies / Roger Hodgson

Many times in life it is very hard to make a self-evaluation. But a critical look at life is essential to getting oneself on the right track. Sometimes it is easier viewing things from a distance. 

airplane view photoAbove all do not get lost in the game of second guessing everything you have done in life. That will bring you utter torment and unhappiness. The truth is that everybody makes mistakes, and I’m talking about major blunders. Some can recognize them and some can’t. Many people are trapped in an unhappy life not knowing how they got there. They say if I only did this or I only did that. But beware, you are what you are and part of what made you are your mistakes. If you change one thing the chain of events that made what you are would be altered.

Looking back at my childhood I can see that things were very bad for a lot of reasons. As far as scholastics went I was fairly smart. However, I was extremely emotionally immature and my interpersonal skills were terrible. Fortunately, I had a group of people that I could call friends. Many people don’t have that.

Now my personal view of my past is tainted because I suffer from bipolar. Whether mental illness comes from heredity or from the environment I cannot tell. In my case, my mother’s mother suffered from a mental illness. I don’t know the details. My youth was very troubled. I can see this now in reflection. I had an awakening when I went for a job interview and they had a personality test. One of the questions was ‘how many fights have you been in?’ It was multiple choice. The first was zero. The second was one or two. The last one was over twelve. I fell in the last bracket easily. At that point, it hit me that my life wasn’t normal but very violent.

One must keep in mind that the primary reason for the whole process is to bring something profitable out of it. The summary of my self-analysis is that I wish I had been more responsible in my academics. I also wish that I had taken more courses in the arts and music. I also would have loved to be socially accepted, but therein lies the maturity, I cannot change the past but only the future. Knowing the value of learning and of creativity, I have incorporated them into my daily life. I also invest much time with my friends.

When I was twenty years old I took a cross country trip. I hitchhiked where it was legal and I rode on the Greyhound Bus where it wasn’t. I got as far South as Texas and as far Northwest as Washington State. Doing a quick calculation from looking on a map I must have visited about twenty-five states. It was my first traveling experience outside of things that were designed for tourism. When a person travels by tourism what they see is artificial, a show by design. On my cross-country trip, I was startled by how friendly and kind people were.

One interesting tidbit is that West Virginia was my favorite state by far. The people were the kindest and the scenery second only to Idaho. When I extended my thumb for a ride it didn’t take long at all.  In fact, one time I was lying by the side of the road resting and a car pulled over asking if I was alright.  They readily agreed to give me a ride. What I find most revealing is that the people of West Virginia have had a history of supreme oppression. It is an area with very high poverty and a history of being oppressed. This proves the basic tenet that suffering will make you better, whether personally or as a society. I only have to point to the generation who went through the great depression and fought World War 2. Through the bad times, they develop a resiliency.

Finally, there is always time to change. It is never too late until you die. We all need to improve and looking at what you’ve done and what you’ve been through is a fruitful exercise. Some may need assistance in interpreting the lessons of the past, but if you are honest in your reflections you will see what you need to.

I wrote a book about my life called “More Than The Madness” It covers my childhood and the time of my mental illness as well as my hitchhiking among other things.


Viewing Things From A Distance

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). Viewing Things From A Distance. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Oct 2018
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