Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

I Survived
AJ Robinson

Call me Drew. I, and I alone am survived the horrors of the past, and am here today to tell you this tale of woe, misery, and death! So, listen well, take heed to what I say that you and yours may not suffer the same fate.

It was the fall, of 1969, when I and three dozen other hardy youngsters began the challenge of our lives; little did we know the horrors we would have to endure. By the end of that second month, fully a dozen had fallen taken from us by the demons that ensnared their souls. We tried to convince them of the error of their ways, but the evil seduced them.

With the passage of another two months, the world turned cold, in more than one way. Nonconformists suffered ridicule and rejection, the majority ruled. Indoctrinated, with tales of exploitation, misery and death, we believed the ends somehow justified the means. A great many of my classmates couldnt take the pressure, falling by the wayside. Those who did not follow the beliefs of majority, as connected to the winter festivities, also left.

During this same time, we had to expose ourselves to the hardships of the natural world. What followed was a laundry list of horrific physical injuries that left many of my friends handicapped for life. There was also terrible mental anguish suffered by those who could not keep up physically with the rigors of outdoor activities. Repeatedly, in the endless physical competitions we were compelled to partake of, those who failed to win were devastated by the humiliation of lose.

In the depths of winter came yet another chance for acceptance and rejections, as we had to express tokens of affection for others. Those of us, who got fewer cards and gifts than the others, were broken hearted, and left empty with feelings of abandonment unloved and unwanted. We were also forced by our parents to leave the warmth and comfort of our homes to prove worthy of continued life. We had hurl clumps of frozen water at each other to secure dominance in the community, build our own homes out of the same material and even construct silent sentinels to stand watch over us. I personally think some of the children build them as surrogate parents, as it was clear they were receiving no love or compassion at home.

In various places, at school and in our community, we were further forced to enter drawings, artworks etc in various contests. Judges came around and, in fact, passed judgment as to one of them being better than are the others. As if it wasnt bad enough that they did this, the judges actually affixed ribbons to the works so that all would know who was first, second, and third.

The losers were inconsolable. They often destroyed their works, preferring not to recall the torments they endured.

By summer, I was one of the few survivors and then my family journeyed to a lonely island outpost, for still more survival training. As school was out, I had to leave our home, at dawn, not allowed to return until night fell. My friends and I were on our home homeless, friendless and unloved. We would forage for food and stagger through forgotten valleys and street in search of something to do.

In case you havent figured it out by now, Im recounting some of the simple events of childhood: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, playing in the snow, going out to recess, physical education class and playing the simple joys of summer. Yeah, we had to deal with loss, with losing at things, with getting the odd bump and scrape. Yet, somehow, we survived!

What a concept.

In the decades that preceded my generation, people, such as Bill Gates, had had to deal with losing and they all survived as well. Sometimes, losing helps, it makes you buckle down and try harder.

These days, with society so incredibly PC, kids cant celebrate Halloween because thats encouraging them to become Devil worshippers. They cant observe Thanksgiving unless taught how the Pilgrims exploited the Natives, and Christmas is totally off limits! They cant have contests where someone wins, because the losers will be sad, and they cant partake of PE, recess or the simple joys of childhood because they might get hurt. If that happened, his or her parents would sue someone and we cant have that.

And so today, we have a rather bland, uniform, and completely dull childhood lined up for our youth thats about as much fun as watching paint dry and as spicy as a bowl of shredded wheat!

Its such a pity. Despite all the pains of my childhood, I would not part with all of them if it meant giving up a single moment of the joys.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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