Segment 1.Looking backward to my early days and early choices made as a child.
Since we all make inner choices consciously or not that can set life long patterns of thought and behavior that we become accustomed to them that we don’t recognize them as choices and perhaps have too little compassion or courage to take an honest look at where we are before trying to make a change.
Perhaps predominant inner awareness I had as a child was that of being self-conscious and scared. Before going to school for the first day, I felt nothing short of terror to the point I thought I would pass out. I could not explain it to myself or my parents, so off to school I went, concluding that there was something different and terribly wrong with me. I rarely felt this feeling, but knew it was there and concluded that I was not normal.
Soon my parents put me in an elite private school, and I decided to make a new start in life. I would become good, at erring that was expected of me.
In the first day of kindergarten we were all given thin hardbound books and asked to read as many as we could. I excelled at my first challenge by announcing that I had read them all without having done more than turning the pages. No one else had read more than three in the time allotted. I never questioned the ethics of this victory, I just knew it was important to appear to be “outstanding” a word my Father often used when talking about what he wanted me to become. When I was eight years old on summer vacation he said to me, “Tim you could be an excellent tennis player and an excellent golfer,” his to preferred sports, or you could become outstanding at one. Which will it be?” Than preferred answer was obvious. “Outstanding at one.” I replied. “Which one,” he asked. “Tennis!” I said emphatically, thinking in my head, “it’s cheaper.”
So that was the choice and I practiced tirelessly summer and winter, until I was ranked # 7 nationally, reaching the round of 16 at the boys national championship, my first time playing on clay. I was in a religious phase of my life, and was praying every game that winning was in His hands, and I would just my best effort. Soon I was getting a reputation for being the underdog winner and was placed on center court to accommodate large audiences. Soon I came up against a highly ranked player at the time, called Alan Silverman. At the critical point in the third set I was serving with a 5-3 lead, ahead 40-15, with two match points in front of me. I took a moment to send up a prayer, but this time it came out slightly different. “Thank you so much for taking me this far, how about letting me finish him off.” My first match point was lost as I tried to ace him on both first and second serves, hitting the net tape each time. On my second chance i rushed the net and hit an easy volley into the net, with the entire court open.
Of course I tried to reverse my prayer, but felt overwhelming fear. My opponent was nervous also and we ended up just lobbing the ball back and forth playing as safe as we could. He finally prevailed winning at 10-8 in the third set, and I felt ashamed at losing both outwardly and inwardly. Facing two match points, I sent up one more prayer, but this time it was slightly different. It went something like this, “Thank you God for taking me this far, how about letting me finish him off?” Asking myself how I wanted to “finish him off” I tried for two aces in a row double faulting my first match point. The second I got really nervous missed a very easy volley and from there on, I was scared on every point and my opponent seemed scared to and we lobbed back and forth until finally he prevailed to win the match 10-8. I dreamt about missing that volley many nights. Spurred forward by this self doubt I doubled my efforts at school and all my ideals.
At the graduation ceremony, I won most of the awards given including the Optimum award, otherwise called the best boy award. Dad was pleased, and I was quite embarrassed, hiding what I thought was my fearful nature.
One night before going to sleep i imagined that I had died, and was greeted by “god” and his assistant who said to me. “So, Tim, you’re back.” He went on to give a summary of all the wonderful circumstances of my life of privilege and endowed with talents and a brain, sent to the best schools to further develop them. Then the focus turned to the condition of the surrounding world, the hunger and poverty, the racism, and that this was the first time that mankind had invented a weapon capable of destroying humanity itself. This setting concluded with the question, “So with these advantages and potential given to you, what did you do about the condition of the world.” Being young at the time of this imagined visit, there was not a judgment, but an imagined clear challenged. I came back thinking certain that doing something about the world condition was certainly the only acceptable purpose for one’s life.
Not coincidently my Father would have agreed. In my mind succeeding at such a challenge would just about balance out my inner feeling of unworthiness, that no awards could calm.