Page Created: 8/1/2014   Last Modified: 5/27/2019   Last Generated: 4/19/2023
I was a child of the 1970's, teen of the 1980's, and was born and still reside in the greater metropolitan area of St. Louis, Missouri.
I grew up in what was, but is no longer, an outer ring suburb west of Lambert Airport, bounded on the west by flood plains and southern bends in the Missouri River as it wound its way to the confluence with the Mississippi 16 miles to the northeast.
The airport, that my grandfather loved and built his house next to because he loved airplanes, became a gluttonous monster that eventually consumed our home, school, and my childhood neighborhood. The grassy yard with tulip, redbud, and maple trees where he taught me how to catch a baseball is now buried 50 feet under "Runway 11-29".
Instead of moving farther west, like most of the people, I moved east, to an older, inner ring suburb on the south side of the airport.
I grew up in an open-minded and diverse family of teachers, WWII veterans, and a charismatic father from Tehran. My grandfather, born in Iowa, was 3rd generation Norwegian-American, his parents still spoke the language, but he, like my brother and myself, never learned his father's language. Farsi was never offered at my high school or university. I studied German for 6 years instead, spanning the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and knew how important that day was.
I'm the oldest child, male, with a brother 1 1/2 years younger. So I have a lot of characteristics as such, a mix of egocentrism, showoff, prodigal son, type A, etc, and I know it. Such is the curse--you know it but what can you do about it.
Luckily, for the first 15 years of my life, I had a next door neighbor, the youngest son of a family of older siblings that had moved away. I always thought of him as an only child, but he was 3 years older than me and old enough not to put up with my antics, to ungracefully knock me down when my megalomania took hold, to remind me that there were things I was not capable of achieving in my current state, both mentally and physically. He did not sympathize with my being of younger age, as he was far younger than his youngest sibling and none of his brothers or sisters were there to hold his hand. He was better than me in all things, and had set the bar high. He taught me temperance, perseverance and patience.
So I kept the bar high throughout those years. My grandfather, grandmother, and mother were all elementary school teachers, and they promoted learning and gave me freedom to learn what I wanted. And when I did well, I was praised. My grandmother taught me how to read and write before I entered school, which set me on a path of self-learning at a very early age. I am a full-on autodidact. My first 1 1/2 years of education were at a rigorous private school, hearkening back to the 1950's/1960's style of education. And when I entered public school, I was an overachiever, classified as gifted by the US educational system of that time. In retrospect though, the tracking and pull-out programs they put us in skewed my perspective, separated me from the general population.
My father was classical obsessive-compulsive and it got worse as he got older, but this was impossible for me to understand for several years due to my lack of knowledge, cultural, and language barriers. I was the first in my family that detected and classified it, as it was not popularized until later decades. He could and did achieve great things, seeking the inner perfection that only he saw. He tried to explain these things to us, but the language barrier was immense. Farsi and English are separated by the same East-West chasm that separates the world. The Persian culture and idioms are different, even if the words can be translated. It takes a different way of thinking to bridge the two. I tried for years to understand what my father spoke about when he used symbolic languages speaking of the Sun, dignity, of life and ways of living. He was most comfortable speaking in parables, allegory, and symbols.
Again--something else I could not achieve, understanding my own father. So my path became fractured--I decided to no longer devote 100% of my focus to proving myself to others in all things in life, but to cracking the code of life itself, those things I laughed at when I was younger (symbols, tradition, archetypes, pattern, meaning).
Hardships in life are very stressful to us, they are horrible times--but now I wonder. Is it not so much our antithetical relationship with these scenarios as it is our own resistance to divide our attention and apply it to what we fear? Maybe my father would have said, "Do you look at the flower until the tiger goes away, or do you look the tiger in the eye?"
Part of the reason for this web site is to look the tiger in the eye, and to show you what I see.
- Here are some of my FavoriteThings.
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