I was the oldest of four boys, and after our father died, mother supported us by taking in sewing. We were quite poor. I got an afterschool job as the janitor in a factory; it was the only way I’d have any money.
After a couple of years I got bored with that, so I beat the pavement to just about every business in our small Ontario town. I found a job hammering nails. The cut in pay from $.40 per hour to $.30 per hour was worth it for the new experience. Unfortunately, this was to be a short-lived adventure; my new boss found out I was only 13, and child labor laws kicked in. I went back to my afterschool sweeping and toilets and kept a low profile…
My mother had always wanted me to go to university, but she died in a car crash when I was 16. Nevertheless, the janitoring and summer jobs financed my big adventure of going off to university. I was the first from my mother’s side to do so.
I had come to realize by the time I was 12 that I could choose to look at my life as a series of crises: drowning and resuscitation, abduction and torture, abduction and sexual abuse, father dying, poverty, my teacher labeling me “slow.” Alternatively, I could choose to look at my life as a series of adventures: solo hiking and exploring, hitchhiking to Toronto to spend a week each year at the CNE, long bicycling adventures, building a boat and riding the spring floodwaters amidst the ice jams on the local river, learning to hunt with a 12-gauge shotgun. I chose adventure over crisis.
When you are confronted with a life event, you are given a choice as to how you interpret it. And let’s face it; life has its ups and downs.
A “down” could be a disaster like a marriage failure… or the opening for the adventure of remarriage. I’ve been blessed with that adventure twice.
Another not uncommon disaster is a job loss or business failure that leads to the loss of your hard-earned material possessions. However, losing our business, our house and our vehicles cut our material ties to the east and led to the adventure of starting over on the west coast. Without the business crash two decades ago, my adventures in writing might never have begun.
Family is one of life’s big adventures, and three of my adult children dying in the last five years have been tragic. However, the time before each one died was one of deep mutual reconnection and re-bonding as we said our goodbyes… and that has been another blessing.
The nature of adventure changes with the lifecycle. I gave up motorcycle adventure touring a couple of years ago (downgraded to four wheels) and am now much more focused on my healing work and internet outreach work.
I invite you to reflect on the positive adventures of your life that have arisen from the ashes of the not so positive.
Neill Neill – About the Author:
Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill maintains an active practice on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, with a focus on healthy relationships and life after addictions. He is the author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide. Get a copy of his free report “Codependency and Alcohol Addiction” at www.neillneill.com,