Did My Life Peak at Six?

Talking about everything changing… even I’M changing. 

Even within a single day I change:  In mornings I’m most creative, in afternoons most tired, in evenings most busy, at night most WIRED.  Once I was a baby, then I was a youth, then I morphed to teen-hood and now I’m just a goof.  Soon I will be old, then I’ll surely die, get carried up to heaven by angels by and by (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The year I was six years old has been my favorite so far.  That was back in 1989, the year I should have gone to Kindergarten but instead stayed home and played hooky (long story).

Beginning my education with a gap year was thinking far ahead of my time.  I predict this practice to catch on mainstream soon.  At such a tender age, spending a year savoring life and contemplating existence is more beneficial than being dropped into “The System," I believe.  Who wants to begin the long, tedious process of staring at a clock and catching runny-nose-colds when the oyster shell of life beckons?  Not I, for one.

Nick, circa 1989Back when I was six, I was into Cowboys.  In particular: BEING a Cowboy. Every day was spent outside riding my bicycle (i.e. Mustang Steed) in the backyard (the Bar-K Ranch) lounging in our wooden playhouse (Davy Crockett’s Alamo) climbing trees (Watchtowers) and lassoing neighborhood alley cats (Rogue Steers). 

Each afternoon at 3, Mom & I would go drive and pick up Luke & Seth from school, listening to the Sugar Creek Gang on the radio enroute.  I loved the Sugar Creek Gang.  I also loved watching the buffalo by their school.  And the spot on 45th Street where the road curved in an S fascinated me. Six year olds are easily entertained.

The evenings were busy watching others work: watching Mom get supper ready, watching Dad get home from the office (I always hid behind the front door and as he entered would leap out yelling "Raaugh!"), watching siblings wash dishes after dinner, watching my baby brother Joe gaze absentmindedly into space, and my favorite: watching Luke build stuff.  Like transforming Dad’s metal gasoline can into a robot (Dad wasn’t thrilled, but I was) or making a balsa wood airplane powered by a giant rubber band.

The airplane project took weeks, as I recall.  I always enjoyed helping him… getting a tool, holding something, or at least providing moral support.  He never minded.  And every day when Luke was at school I would go in the shed and longingly stare at the unfinished contraption, hardly able to wait until he returned to continue progress.  I wished school didn’t exist so he could work on it more.  Little did I know then my negative feelings towards school would only increase with time. 

Seth and I also did tons together: staying up late whispering is one memory.  What we discussed idk, but we did plan a camping trip to the Pecos once, which is still pending (*ahem*).  In the summer, Seth and I often played Cowboys and (politically incorrect) Indians.  I had a beautiful set of six-shooter cap guns which were put to good effect. 

Later I acquired a BB gun which shot nifty holes through the screen windows on our shed, though that activity wasn’t looked favorably upon by the ruling class.  Neither was shattering the light fixture in our living room, something I once did during an epic pillow fight with my brothers.  But that’s all water under the bridge now.

A six year old still has a working imagination.  An imagination that easily transforms a modest backyard into a sprawling Bar-K Ranch.  Or the gutted stock of an antique firearm (a household relic which never ceased to fascinate me) into a Tommy machine gun.

My active imagination could even make up stuff from scratch: I remember exploring uncharted aquatic depths with my personal submarine.  It was yellow with a front bubbled glass window, sported a brilliant search light, and was only large enough for a six year old my size to squeeze into.

Back when I was six, everything in life was new and mysterious… the fine line separating fact from fantasy still blurry.  Best of all, there was nothing to worry about! 

Definitely not the future.  And nothing to stew about.  Fortunately, not the past.  Six year olds in loving families are too busy processing the present.  Now, at twenty-seven, I think about both past and future quite a bit.

All this soliloquy reminds me of a passage from Matthew,

About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him
who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him.

Then he said, "I promise you this. If you don’t change and
become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of
heaven.  But if you are as humble as this child, you are the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven." 

(Matthew 18:1-4 Contemporary English Version)

Seems like childhood was one big quest to become an adult.  Then adulthood becomes one big quest to regain the humility, faith, and wonder of a child.

12 thoughts on “Did My Life Peak at Six?”

  1. Speaking of submarines, I just remembered your bespoke scuba apparatus, made from a pickle jar, soda straws, and that mighty, waterproof binder of all things great and small: masking tape. I know we have a picture of you with it somewhere.

    At my age, I now spend a lot of time thinking about past and future as well. It’s true, the scope of such thoughts and their very presence is one of the defining differences between childhood and adulthood. What I didn’t expect is how much also stays the same, or becomes amplified. All of my projects today are descendant evolutions easily traced back to that tin robot, or the balsa airplane. I have the distinct and unmistakeable knowledge I am trying to accomplish or achieve the same thing today that I was then (I don’t know what it is, I only know it’s the same). The only difference is that today everything is more complex, more expensive, and more exasperating. I still wish I had you around to help out.

    You’re a tinkerer too… You will recall once I predicted impressive manifestations of your nascent powers. I don’t know if they have fully materialized yet or not, but in some ways you are still in the process of hitting your stride. You have skills and abilities I envy, and frequently wish I had at my disposal. But you have yet to put them to the task of creating a tank for us to drive around, and I don’t know why. Some day you will see the bat sign in the sky and head into your basement to begin work.

    I’ll be waiting for you there… with the masking tape.

  2. That’s classic Luke, thanks! Maybe we can join forces with this helicopter DV contraption you were describing last night.

    Seems like we’ve swapped roles several times. Back when you were making mechanical James Bond gadgets for your car, I was into computer game programming. You would tell me it was more fun to make things that DID something, and I would tell you my computer programs DID do something. Plus, I would counter that programming was a lot less messy; your projects junked up the whole upstairs, as I recall.

    Then, later, as you got into serious programming of PICs for greater automated control, I was out in the garage welding up motorbikes. Now you do both electrical AND mechanical projects: restoring an antique vehicle, for instance; or programming realistic effects into your r/c models for another. Not to mention your day job is a programmer. Meantime, I’m back to the “cleaner” pursuits of online blogging, devouring books, and minimizing my possessions. Except for I just bought two boats… oops

  3. lol, “ministry”, huh? 🙂
    They look cool!! Where do you sail them?
    Oh, and “solo” sounds way too dangerous… you should at least take a Parrot with you. 😉

  4. Nick and Joe used to have a Parrot… hopefully he wasn’t abandoned after all that wedding business, but I haven’t seen him lately. Just monkeys.

  5. No Luke, Chewbacca the Parrot has not been abandoned. Amazingly, he managed to survive the multiple rounds of layoffs.

    Even now Chewbacca swings contentedly in my living room from an antler. His tropical colors adding a splash of pizzaz to the otherwise muted and subdued “rustic-lodge” motiff of my apartment.

    see Chewbacca here.

  6. Ok, I’m glad to know he’s still alive. Now you can take him on your sailing adventures.

    Nice antler lamp, by the way. I don’t remember that last time I was there, but I might not have paid much attention.

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