At a young age, I learned that strategy in life really does matter. It’s become a living manifesto of sorts.
When I was eight, I had an uncle I didn’t like much. He fed the dog peanut butter rolls with pop rocks in it. Our dog was the nervous type. When she wasn’t cold, she still shivered. You know the type. When the pop rocks went off in the dog’s mouth, she convulsed in terror—a bomb going off inside her. Nothing she could do. He laughed hardest when she was at the brink of what looked like passing out in panic. “Dumb dog” he’d said, pull out a cigarette and make me light it for him.
Of course I wanted the lighter to creep upward and light his blonde curls—cause him the same terror. But I had watched adults all my life. As much as they liked to philosophize about how life could have been or would be if only they concentrated on the result more… well life to me seemed to be a simple case of arithmetic. If I needed five extra dollars on my allowance to buy a nice new shirt to impress Shirley—I cleaned more windshields, baked more cookies (I didn’t discriminate girl jobs from boy jobs) for the neighbors or simply opened my eyes to the many discarded pennies in the gutters. Focused action over time worked. Shirley didn’t like me at first. But by eighth grade my detailed presentations combined with her history of not so great boyfriends finally made her think of me with affection. And my uncle? Do you really want to know?
I will say this… it’s not me in the woods who took this picture. It’s him living as homeless person watching the big screen back porch of the house he once owned. It took eleven years, two days and twenty five minutes. And though he hurt many people and animals in that time, I can confidentially and proudly say he won’t be doing that anymore. And he will still have all the luxuries he once assumed would be his from dishonesty — but from the woods. You might be thinking he’s still a danger. Nah, he never was a ‘real’ danger. His perspective was dented. Now, he would rather me have the big house and watch movies from the woods. He even has a few bird friends—a real fondness for red headed woodpeckers and black hawks.