I read an article in Reader’s Digest months ago by Bruce Grierson whose article, ‘The Rule of 10’, which had been published in full in the magazine Psychology Today. In it he writes,
Ten-year olds are about to experience the biggest surge of intellectual horsepower in their lifetimes, as measured by gains in executive function. . . Ten-year olds are transitioning, in other words, from dreamers to lawyers.
Without trying to explain the deeper meaning of that statement allow me to continue. The thrust of his article seems to be that around ten kids get an urge toward something they want to do as an adult, maybe more than one.
. . . age ten contains, in a sense, our source code, . . in the past as many as 85 percent of North Americans said they failed to find meaning in their jobs and would take a pay cut in exchange for a more fulfilling job.
What it says to me is that, in following Mr. Greisen’s line of thought, a vast majority of ten-year-olds as adults are ignored or dissuaded from their urge, due to the early external influences from parents, peers, or circumstances influencing their decisions, chose a line of employment contrary to that ten-year old urge, that feeling in the belly or excitement in the mind.
With no extensive pursuit of the author’s theory, in agreement or deep questioning of fact, I would simply say that I have no recollection as a ten-year-old what I wanted to do as an adult. If I had an urge in the belly, I probably sloughed it off as hunger pangs or upset stomach. I had just moved into my grandparents’ house in Goodland, Kansas, having left the almost two-mile-high town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, with my very expecting mom. World War II was still over a year away and I was having too much trouble acclimating to life in a very modest three-bedroom home which already had the four sons of Roy and Nancy Short still at home. With mom having had a baby girl soon after our arrival in August of 1940, it was anything but normal in the cramped quarters.
A year or so after the war started on December 8, 1941, I began fantasizing about being a fighter pilot, this without realizing that most wars don’t last more than three to five years and the fact that I would never qualify. At thirteen I started delivering the Omaha World Herald newspaper, soon performed various sales jobs at Duckwalls 5 and 10 store, May Drug Store and then in construction jobs for my Uncle Mark Jensen. I didn’t get my first ‘urge’ until I was a sophomore at Sherman Community High School when I saw a Speed Graphic Press Camera in a Montgomery Ward catalog. I saw what Mr. Grierson described as “ . . . the lights come on full beam, revealing the road ahead.”
I became a self-appointed school photographer, after which I joined the navy, went to Pensacola Naval Photography School and served three years in that capacity in an amphibious flag command ship. It was great. I went to a lot of places the normal swabbie didn’t get to see. But during the months before discharge in the spring of 1954, something happened. My thoughts, I wouldn’t call them dreams exactly, of being a photojournalist seemed to just melt away, like dust in the wind, a phrase to surface years later in a song by a rock group called the Police. What happened? Mr. Greisen does say in closing his article,
. . . even if we knew what lit us up at 10, [or even 15 perhaps] there’s still the matter of how to scale that feeling of the adulthood world of today [at whatever point that happens to occur].
Upon discharge I attended Fort Hays State College to become a classroom teacher, taught history and English in Colby, Kansas, for two years and in Wichita, Kansas, at a junior high school for seven years. Then I failed completely at being an assistant principal in a Wichita junior high before moving to Norfolk, Virginia, to a high school. Finally, I became a field staff representative for the Kansas and Virginia Education Associations working for the benefits and problems of teacher members. After all that, I have to say, my happiest employment years were in the classroom. So again, what happened?
I have conducted and attended a lot of workshops and classes on professional and personal growth. One of the things I have loved doing is leading workshops and organizing such activities for others, but it wasn’t enough and/or came too late from which to salvage a meaningful career. I think I fell completely outside the realm of this philosophy suggested by Mr. Grierson but it was fun exploring . Out of it all I have come to one overall conclusion. In pursuit of every change of urge and the positive outlook I held for each of them, the one factor that had been absent was passion for the job. I have learned in recent years that if a high level of passion for what has been chosen is absent, the desired level of success, if any, will never be achieved.
Also, in recent years another ‘urge’ has slipped into my very being, an urge first coming to mind was in a presentation I vividly remember having made to a class of eighth grade English students during my second year in the Colby, Kansas Junior High School.
“Everyone leads a life worth writing about.”
Ignoring the looks and smirks of disbelief as the kids rolled their eyes while looking around at each other, I ventured on.
Yes, everyone can write about themselves and the life he or she is experiencing. I’m not saying what is written will be a bestseller, but the first person to benefit will be you. Writing about one-self opens the mind to not only what has happened in his or her life or even why It occurred, it does create a mental picture as to how it had affected you then and thereafter.
I went on to discuss the value of diaries and journals, at which time the boys renewed their expressions of disbelief, that being an activity for girls.
What I began to realize in 1990 is that I had been ignoring my own advice for over thirty years since offering it to those eighth graders. Even during my time in the navy and the education associations I have written articles for the ship’s newsletter, news releases for the education associations, and even scripts for a TV program in Wichita the 1970’s. But those incidents were only passively related to my jobs at the time. My urge didn’t finally materialize until the early ’90’s when I wrote my first manuscript, ‘A Prairie Heritage, an extensive account of the eight family lines of my first wife, Terry, and mine. The second one in the early 2000’s, ‘Odyssey in Exile, ‘ is a novel that was presented to, but never read, by over forty literary agents. I finally self-published it but I had to cut the 187,000-word effort to under 100,000 words, since I was a ‘new author.’ That destroyed the book and the final published version failed miserably. The third effort was a novella, Prairie Dust to Mountain Gold, written in 2018.
In conclusion, the writing urge for the novella led to a mostly true account of my mother’s and fathers’ rise and fall of their ten-year marriage, which I plan to publish here, each of the seven chapters one at a time. The ‘urge’ is now ever-present and the only thing that hovers in my mental and emotional background is fear in how it will be received and that it be seen as another venture short of success. That and my untenable inefficiency at the computer has prolonged my desire in getting a website going. I have had, in recent months, my talented nephew, Rob Kuropkat, to get me where I am and to keep my head above literary water. I think I am overcoming all that and will just do what I have wanted to do for years with all the passion I can muster and let the results speak for themselves. Other stories and human-interest articles are to follow, but I must hastily add, none of my work has been professionally proofread, nor is it likely to be in the near future. It’s just me, Spellcheck and maybe my wife, Judy, at times. Please stay with me and l let me know how I am doing.
And so it is