The reason I started this blog… yes, I’m finally posting the first post. Bear with me, we’ll get to the reasons, but first I’ll force you to suffer through my life history.
“Look it’s a little Amish baby, complete with wide-brimmed black hat, long white beard, and filled to the hat brim with dogma,” said my mother. Well, maybe she didn’t say that when I was born, but that’s how I imagine it–my placenta-encrusted hat a sharp contrast to the immaculate hospital room. Okay, that’s just gross.
As you may have gathered by now, I was born to Amish parents (whom I love dearly, by the way). We were Old Order Amish–no computers, no electricity, no cars,… the whole bag of enchiladas. As a child, I feared people with cameras. It was almost as if their verboten technology could drain the soul right out of a person. That’s basically what we thought of technology. But I have escaped, and I am safe now. Just kidding. There was no “escaping”. It’s not like I was being held against my will.
Growing up as an Amish boy is what I now consider to have been the first stage of my life.
The second stage of my life began when I left the Amish. That took courage, if I say so myself. I was eighteen years old and somewhat ignorant of the world that you know. Besides, from an early age, it had been drilled into us that people who leave the Amish, will probably burn in hell for all eternity. My parents weren’t quite that bad, but they’re still holding onto the hope that I’ll repent and return someday.
When I left the Amish, I moved into a mobile home with my two best friends. They were also ex-Amish. We had a big television set in no time, and in short order we learned how to pirate satellite television (by the way, what’s the statute of limitations on that?). It didn’t take long for me to buy a laptop and a truck. For several years I partied and fished and browsed the internet.
After two years, I moved to Florida. It was a completely different world for me. I was used to deciduous and coniferous forests. Palm trees were so exotic. I had no formal education, but I got lucky (job-wise). Over the next several years, I held white collar jobs (internet marketing and that sort of thing) until the economy made me poor and jobless again. Then a former colleague and I started a niche internet retail site. It is a moderately successful business, and I am still heavily involved in it, but it’s not my dream career.
In the years since I’ve left the Amish, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I believe, what I want, and when I would ever get around to doing something worthwhile with my life. Well, I’ve cast off a lot of dogma, figured out that I want to be a scientist (or at least an engineer), and that the time is now. That brings us to…
Stage 3 began early this spring. There were seven of us ex-Amish youngsters living in a 5-bedroom, two-story house. Living together gave us a sense of family (sometimes), but most importantly, it kept the rent down to a reasonable level. However, as is inevitable when large egos meet immovable minds, friction developed. We ended up disbanding.
In retrospect, that was just the catalyst I needed to reinvent myself. Moving away from some of the people that I had lived with for years, was a big change. I decided that now would be the time to make other changes. I re-organized my priorities, improved my time management, changed some of my health habits–I basically began an overall self-reinvention.
It was around this time that a new acquaintance strongly encouraged that I enroll in a community college. I had always planned on enrolling eventually, but I thought I just had to wait until I saved up enough money to live comfortably and without loans while in college. Besides, I had been pouring a lot of energy and hope into various entrepreneurial pursuits in the hope that I would strike gold with one of them. It didn’t happen. I mean, I found some dust and a nugget or two–but no veins. Enrolling in college would mean exchanging those hopes for the potentially risky pursuit of more meaningful dreams.
After several weeks of metaphorically tearing my hair out, I decided to take the risk. And here I am with this blog set to chronicle the third stage of my life. Join me on this grand adventure, why don’t you? Don’t just follow along vicariously, reinvent yourself!
Image credit: NASA