My friends are concerned that when you read this you will get the wrong impression of me because of my extensive use of the word “I”. They tell me that someone, not knowing me, would get the impression that I am “full of myself” and that maybe I should use the third person to tell my story. I (there is that word again) don’t want you, the reader, to think that someone else wrote this when, in fact, I wrote it. I can only talk about me in the first person and to use “we”, “us”, “you” or the third person “Roger” goes against my nature.
I was born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1945. My father, Huron, attended Lamar Tech in Beaumont, 30 miles away, during the day and managed three movie theaters at night. My mother, Billie, worked for a company called Stoneburner and Verret in Port Arthur, just a few blocks from our home. I don’t remember just what she did there but I do remember the name for some odd reason. I attended a Lutheran school, starting at the young age of 5, for the first and second grades, being a “model” student both with the academics and the religious teachings. We moved from Port Arthur when I was eight years old to La Marque, Texas where my twin sisters, Donna and Debra were born.
My father graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and accepted a job with Monsanto Chemical Company in Texas City, Texas, which is adjacent to La Marque. My years growing up were all in La Marque, and I eventually graduated from La Marque High School in 1963, at the age of 17. School was very boring for me. I didn’t like sitting all day behind a desk and being lectured to so consequently I made mediocre grades. Academics or the social life weren’t much of an interest to me, but I loved playing baseball on the high school team and during the summers. Being alone in nature and participating in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Star, was a joyful time for me. My scout troop chose me, at the age of 14, to be inducted into the Order of the Arrow, where scouts learned about the Native American dances and rituals. It was exciting to join but for some odd reason I did nothing with it. Resistance was my response to learning anything about the dances and making the dance costumes, and that always puzzled me because I grew up making my own spears, blowguns, bows and arrows and wearing soft-soled moccasins until I was a sophomore in college. It would be years later before I would realize why I didn’t get involved in the Order of the Arrow.
I went on to college, but I was not very studious or interested in the college life, so I later dropped out in 1967, married, and moved to Houston, Texas where I worked for Humble Oil and Refining in their research division as a laboratory technician. The work was so interesting, and being around so many people who had their PhDs in so many interesting disciplines was a joy. I would spend most of my coffee breaks and lunches with the engineers and scientists instead of playing cards, hearts or spades, with the other technicians. Eventually, hunger for a college degree took hold because it dawned on me one day that I was just a technician with some college and to have a career I needed to go back to school. So, I enrolled in night school, full-time, at the University of Houston and continued to work full-time during the day for what had now become Exxon Production Research Company.
I graduated in 1974 with a degree in psychology and made the Dean’s list almost every semester. Exxon temporarily transferred me, into the personnel department to help with the recruiting and assimilation of new employees. Exxon suggested that I attend graduate school for an advanced degree and told me it was the only way to have a professional future with the company. I was so burned out by that time with the full-time student role and the full-time working role as well as being married with a son too that I decided to end my college days for awhile and went looking for a job elsewhere. Fortunately for me, I landed a position with Fluor Engineers and Constructors in Houston and worked for them until 1976 as a recruiter of new college engineering graduates. The increase in salary put my family in a position to buy a new house and a new car; we were on our way to the American dream, and looked like a wonderful family to the outside world.
The years of going to college at night and working during the day while also pursuing outside athletic interests put a severe strain on my marriage. My wife worked full time and had the main responsibility for our son. My constant traveling and other pursuits caused us to grow apart and have very different interests. Consequently one night between Christmas of 1975 and New Years of 1976 she told me that she wanted a divorce. I was stunned and yet curiously not surprised at the same time. I know that sounds strange to say, but that’s how I felt at the time. I guess I was stunned that a divorce was happening to me, but I wasn’t surprised that she wanted one.
The looming divorce was something that I resisted with all my strength because not only did I love her and my son, but I also viewed the divorce as a supreme failure in my life. I reluctantly moved into an efficiency apartment in January and the divorce process began to take on a life of its own. Through the next eight months I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I tried to convince her to change her mind while at the same time attempting to stay her friend. It was a very difficult thing to do, because the whole time I was being eaten alive by my sadness and depression. All of my efforts failed to change her mind, and I had to eventually accept the divorce was truly going to happen.
August of 1976 our marriage officially came to an end. The next two years were difficult for me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life because I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew something had to change. I was being torn apart emotionally every weekend that I would go and pick up my son, Robbie, and have to take him home on Sunday afternoon. He would cry, and I would cry, and my heart would ache for days afterwards. I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to live with the fact that I had been rejected by someone I loved, and I was reminded of that fact every weekend when I went back to my old home to see my son.
I eventually settled into a routine just to get through the days, but I knew that I needed to change something at the core of my being if I was ever to see clearly what my life was about. I went to work everyday and plastered a smile on my face to get through the day only to come home in the evenings and sit and wonder where my life was going. I dated some very nice women over the next year and a half, but I wasn’t looking for marriage again, and I didn’t want to play the emotional games that I found happening when several women wanted to make our relationship more than just dating.
My life was hollow at the core, but on the outside it seemed fine to everyone else. I had a good job, a nice car, and a nice apartment. I had a college degree and enough money not to worry about meeting my needs and I could pursue almost any desire, but something had to change, but I didn’t know what. After several weeks of trying to keep the depression at bay, I decided the best course of action was to dive into it. So one night I lit my white candles, turned out the lights, and settled into a big, soft, easy chair. I began to think of everything depressing in my life. I felt that the only way out of this depression was to face it head on like a warrior going onto the battlefield to meet a deadly foe. I felt that if I didn’t meet this foe head on that he would eventually defeat me by chipping away at me day after day after day. That night I battled with this enemy for two hours, and I was drained. I was too exhausted to continue the fight so I got up, blew out the candles, and shuffled to the bedroom where I dropped my clothes in a pile next to the bed and flopped under the covers. My eyes began to well up with tears; then I started crying, and in a few minutes I found myself sobbing and wailing. This continued for maybe an hour, and I was so spent that I began nodding off into numbing sleep.
I found myself silently screaming a primordial call for help. It was a wordless energetic scream from every pore of my being, every cell of my body, every atom of me was crying out for help. I had no sense of it being a call to God or to anybody or anything. I wasn’t expecting a “savior” to arrive. I really wasn’t expecting anything. I was lost and felt I was caught in endless despair. I was emotionally dying. Several years later I was able to describe it as putting everything that I believed into a psychological bag and throwing it out the window and granting myself complete permission to follow my heart no matter where it led me as long as it brought no intentional harm to another living being.
I had wiped clean the slate that I had written my life story on. Now, nothing stood between me and the world. I knew that I was smart enough to rationalize my decisions if I had to, but the last thing on my mind was my “mind”. The next morning I was awakened by the alarm clock and I jumped out of bed to shower and dress for work. I didn’t realize it until I was outside, about to get into my car that something was different. Something had changed. I was looking at a different world or maybe I was looking at the world through different eyes. Little did I know that I had just stepped into the shaman’s world and onto a path that would dramatically alter my life and my perceptions of the world.
We only have now and one step at a time.