How Did You Become Who You Are?

Dead Sea sign

Ojai, Texas, Israel and Los Angeles are on my mind because these are the places of burning importance to me.

These are the places that helped me become who I was, who I am and I am going to become.

My friend Sandi put something up on Facebook about being a 5/5 on the feistiness scale and I responded by saying I am an 8 or a 9. Don’t  know if that is good or bad, but I am who I am.

iTunes is set to shuffle and Sting’s song A Thousand Years has just come on. Is this a message or just coincidence. Beats me and I am too tired to try to figure it out.

Still staring at the picture of the sign from the Dead Sea.  There are so many stories I could tell you about the lives I have lived and the paths I have walked. Some of them are more interesting than others and some are probably just dull and devoid of meaning to most.

Twenty-Seven years ago I began making plans for a future that didn’t materialize. I was going to live ten thousand miles from home. I was going to become a soldier and raise my family in a different land from that I knew but one that always feels like home.

And then life happened. There was a shift and a change. I took a different path and became a different person. Can’t say better or worse, just different.

How Did You Become Who You Are?

Do you ever think about it. Do you ever wonder about what could have happened if you had made different choices. By now it should be obvious that I have done and still do this.

It is a part of me. I am filled with wanderlust and a desire to seek…things. It may not seem like it, but there are large periods of time in which I am settled and not interested in stoking the flames, but things happen and the shift comes.

Part of me doesn’t like the sound of it, makes me sound manic and or imbalanced. Don’t like that because I am…not.

Feisty. Sometimes impulsive and willing to dance in the flames, but I know what I am doing.

Tonight Facebook shared a face from my past. A woman I knew from my time in Ojai was shown to me. The AI on Facebook suggested that perhaps we knew each other and I laughed. We know each other, or at least we did.

There was a time when I thought perhaps we might get married. There was a time when we shared a brief scare and I wondered what it might mean to be a father at 19. It didn’t happen and I am grateful. Many years have passed and though I look back and smile I know she wasn’t for me.

In The Days of My Youth

iTunes is still speaking to me. Good Times, Bad Times by Led Zeppelin has just come on. Can’t help but smile listening to that and then I have to listen to Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.

“Babe, baby, baby, I wanna leave you
I ain’t jokin’ woman – I’ve got to ramble
Oh, yeah, baby, baby, I will be there
I’ve really got to ramble
I can hear it callin’ me the way it used to do
I can hear it callin’ me back home”

My thoughts are back in Israel and I am remembering how it all started in Ojai.

We were evacuated from a forest fire. The entire lot of us leaving in the dead of night. Almost 30 years later I can still see the flames lighting up the sky and hear the howl of the siren.

Years later the rumble of the earth will wake me and as I listen to a hundred car alarms I’ll remember the sound of the siren and ash falling from the sky.

Time will pass and I’ll walk down a street in Jerusalem past the scene of a terrorist attack. It will have taken place days earlier, but I’ll stare at holes in the wall and remember the sounds of the siren and the rumble of the earth.

These Words I Write

You can blame Jim Murray for these words I write. He was one of the finest sportswriters ever and his writing made me fall in love with words.

There are others who I regard fondly and remember with joy, but Jim Murray is among the very few regrets of my life. I would have loved to have met him and to have talked about writing.

It would have been great to hear some of his stories. I am sorry it never happened. With some luck I may still yet have the chance to do so with Vin Scully.

How did you became who you are is a question I have asked many times. I still ask it and not just of myself.

I think if I did a better job of asking others to share their tale with me I would find myself in an entirely different place than I am now.

How did you become who you are?

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  1. Arlee Bird October 3, 2012 at 9:41 am

    This is a question with no simple short answer. I’ve written many posts on my blogs that have contributed to the answer and perhaps one day I’ll write a memoir.

    The story begins with my parents. I am a product of them and I grew from that beginning.

  2. Jayme Soulati October 3, 2012 at 5:07 am

    Look at this stream of comments…when you get personal (it’s a test I have tried) people respond. Your heart was on this; beautiful.

  3. Stan Faryna October 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    This blog post invites poignant disclosure. I have just begun to read the comments…

  4. Mark October 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I can’t really remember…

    When I was born, my parents told me the doctor dropped me on my head 😮

    I started racing motocross when I was 12 and had many a spill.

    I once had to get a branch of a tree removed from head… The tree that I hit didn’t move much when I lost control of my bike and missed the track with a very hard landing.

    I won lots of races though 🙂

    My football playing days didn’t help health either. I liked to bury my head in the midsection and legs of my enemies. There was nothing that gave me more joy than knocking the complete crap out of my opponent.

    I loved the fact that people were afraid of me. I wasn’t a boisterous person at all. I was always a good sport. I always supported my teammates and made those players around me better.

    I just liked to fascinate and shock people.

    I used the love the moan of the crowd too, wondering if the person I just wholly thrashed on the field would be able to get up.

    Problem was, sometimes I was my own victim… Not good for the neck and head hitting improperly like I did and it often led to many concussions. When I got to the college level, it almost killed me!

    I’ve been running hard my whole life. I don’t remember much about the past… I live and breathe for a better future.

    I pretty much miss everything that’s right in front of me. Pretty sad, I know…

    Do I wish I was different? Sometimes, but that won’t change anything. All I know is I was born to change the world, so that’s the space I exist in.

    One of two things is going to happen in my life; I’m either going to change the world, or die trying.

    I don’t have a mind for much else…

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Somehow I don’t think you miss as much as you say. You are just a warrior and the warrior keeps battling and moving forward. That is a good thing.

      Your approach to football is why my folks refused to sign the waiver for me. I played the same way and if I got hurt it just made me angrier, so I went harder. Damn bodies only give so much before they don’t give.

      We’re running next to you towards that future.

  5. Tracie October 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    There are a few specific choices that I wonder about. What would have happened if I had made the other choice? I think I would be a different person if I had. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

    I don’t stay up late thinking about them every night, but they do enter my thoughts and dreams often.

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Hi Tracie,

      I try to maintain a similar attitude. I can’t say life would be better or worse, just different. Doesn’t do much good to spend too much time crying over what we could or should have done, but I do enjoy thinking about it sometimes.

  6. Bill Dorman October 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    This I do know, I was drifting aimlessly and had no plan as high school graduation was rapidly approaching. Fate, serendipity; who knows but I got the call from the Army recruiter. I certainly can’t say every decision since then has been the right one; but I do know it opened the door for me to get where I am today. I can tell you it allowed me to make a lot more right decisions than wrong ones.

    I have to think my life would have been drastically different without taking that first step. But who knows, I could be exactly where I am right now but got there on a totally different journey.

    It is what it is; all we can do is move forward, right?

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Bill,

      One foot after the other isn’t a bad motto to follow. If you can’t go backwards all you can do is go forward and do the best you can to make it all work for you.

  7. October 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I think this is a question I might explore in tomorrow’s post. Don’t worry, I’ll give you credit and a link. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Jens P. Berget October 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I have been thinking about it, and especially since a lot of people have told me that I am nothing like my parents and that they don’t understand how I have become who I am. I am not sure either, but it’s a very interesting question. And looking at my kids, I see myself, and I am wondering if they’re going to be anything like me when they grow up.

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Hi Jens,

      It is interesting to me to look at our parents and see what we have taken from them and incorporated into ourselves and what has been passed along to our children.

      The ultimate question is do you like what you see.

  9. Hajra October 2, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Its been close to ten years since I left high school. And I clearly didn’t have the current phase of life as my “to-be in ten years”. Life takes different routes. I really don’t know how I became who I am, but I am happy with myself and I am so much more happier and at peace with who I am right now! 🙂

  10. Joe October 2, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Sensational post. I am who I am because of the firm but gentle hand of my immigrant grandparents, who I spent much of my time around in my formative years. I am who I am as the result of a decision to work in the family business instead of finishing college.

    While working there late one Friday night several years in, my life took a turn. My car was blocked into its parking space, and I couldn’t move it. If I could have, I might not have stayed out that night and met the girl who would become my wife.

    I would think Vin Scully would be accessible to fans. Ever send him an email?

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Joe,

      The story of how you met your wife is great. That is very cool. If you haven’t blogged about it yet, you should.

      I haven’t tried emailing him, but that is not a bad idea. I know some people who have met him and they say he is as nice and genteel in person as they come.

  11. Gina October 2, 2012 at 6:16 am

    I seem to run along the same scale as you 8-9/5 on the fiesty scale 😉

    I think a lot about this as well. And sometimes I think I ended up where I am today because of decisions I didn’t make or non-decisions! When I was 23, I was inches away from moving to San Diego. Didn’t. And that would have changed the course of everything. Do I wish I would have? No. I’m very happy where I’m at but I get the cyclical wonderings and wanderlust feelings, too, every now and again!

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      See, Trouble fits you. 😉

      San Diego is a great city. I have thought about moving down there a bunch of times.

      It is great when you can look back with a smile and know that even though you didn’t make a particular decision things worked out just fine.

      It is always hard to say how a particular choice might have changed things. There are so many variables.

  12. Sandi Amorim October 2, 2012 at 6:03 am

    When I think of my 20s, it often feels like I’m remembering someone else’s memories. Life was headed the way I’d dreamed of and I was happy. Then, the unthinkable happened, my heart was broken. So while I was already pretty well formed by then, that life event was intense enough that the first dream was wiped out completely, and what came out of that was unexpected. The path I had to take to heal my poor ol’ heart lead me to where I am today.

    It’s funny though to think that the event that turned my life upside down would also eventually lead to a career I love and a much more fulfilling life than the one I had planned.

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Hi Sandi,

      What was the dream? Were you a photographer then?

      I love that you have found your way to a more fulfilling life now. That is very cool.

      • Sandi Amorim October 3, 2012 at 6:59 am

        Back then I was a struggling artist with a day job and a fiance who landed a great job in New York. I squealed when I heard we were moving to NYC, a city I loved and dreamed of living in since my first visit to the Met. I was still painting back then and imagined myself working in my studio all day while the fiance made big bucks on Wall Street. Sounds like a B movie doesn’t it?

  13. Betsy Cross October 2, 2012 at 3:24 am

    I was asked to teach a class on family history tonight to 8-12 yr-olds. I feel the need to tell them some stories about some people who have obviously died, whose partial stories are in an 1848 newspaper I found. As I’ve been pondering the assignment I’ve thought about a life and how it can be told through facts on documents. Knowing that has caused me to reflect on how significant choices are and how they should always align with “who we are” deep down whenever we have a choice. Sometime we don’t.
    That’s why I do family history: I can see how people became the story I discover. All very interesting, especially when I’m looking at who I’ve become and can’t undo some of the choices I’ve made. That’s where I share my story with my children and ask if they want a repeat performance in their lives?

    • Joe October 2, 2012 at 7:15 am

      Nice comment, Betsy. I think it’s a great opportunity to search the past and reflect on our own history with the hope of shaping our future and the future(s) of our children and the generations that follow.

      Couldn’t have said it better.

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Hi Betsy,

      It is a good lesson you are teaching.
      My grandfather always used to say “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders” and boy was he right.

      I talk to my children about decision making and do my best to impress upon them the need to think about some things.

      Some of that sinks in and some just slips away. We do our best and hope they take some of it to heart.

  14. Matches Malone October 2, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Mostly my parents, as they had the greatest influence over my life from birth. Made some wrong choices based on who I thought I should be, and made some inadvertently right choices at the same time. I’m still wondering about the road not taken, and always wondering if a decision I made about 20 years ago was the right one.

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Hey Matches,

      I am a curious man and definitely prone to wool gathering about this and that. I feel the same way about my folks and am working hard to only make good decisions for my kids. It is a hard thing to do.

      But we do the best we can and live the life we make and if it doesn’t work we do a little course correction. If only it was as easy as it sounds. 😉

  15. Julie October 2, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Good Times/Bad Times and Ramble On are my favorites, probably of all time.

    Some say we lead 6 parallel lives simultaneously but in different “dimensions.” Deja vu would then be the times we “crossed over” ourselves. I always wondered IF that is true, then did we start off exactly the same each time and then just make a different choice somewhere along the road? How did each choice end up so far? What if you became an Israeli soldier in one life, or married someone else in another?

    • Matches Malone October 2, 2012 at 3:26 am

      If that’s the case, then I’d rather be in the dimension wherein I made the different choice I talked about in my own comment right about now….

      • Julie October 2, 2012 at 7:30 am

        Well look at it this way – you can’t screw up. There is a lesson and an experience that grows who you are, good/bad or indifferent, in exactly every single thing you do or don’t do.

    • Jack October 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Julie,

      Ramble On is awesome. Love that song. Parallel worlds and different lives- easy to wonder about those things and where we could/should be.

      “Leaves are falling all around, It’s time I was on my way.
      Thanks to you, I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
      But now it’s time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
      For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way.
      Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I’ve got one thing I got to do…

      Ramble On, And now’s the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
      I’m goin’ ’round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
      I’ve been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
      Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

      Got no time to for spreadin’ roots, The time has come to be gone.
      And to’ our health we drank a thousand times, it’s time to Ramble On.


      Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
      How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
      T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
      But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….yeah.


      Gonna ramble on, sing my song. Gotta keep-a-searchin’ for my baby…
      Gonna work my way, round the world. I can’t stop this feelin’ in my heart
      Gotta keep searchin’ for my baby. I can’t find my bluebird! ”

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