FOUR REASONS WHY I STARTED IT.
The Short Back-story.
THIS IS THE SIXTH IN A SERIES OF POSTS ABOUT SELF-KNOWLEDGE COLLEGE AND THE DALEY POST.
YOU CAN ACCESS THE PREVIOUS POSTS BELOW.
No. 1 Jack Nicholson
No. 2 Arnold
No. 3 General MacArthur
No. 4 What it looks like
No. 5 Why three sites
NO ROSE BOWL
I learned hard lessons early about life.
My father abandoned the family when I was seven.
He left my mother who had three children and a fourth on the way.
I was the eldest.
He had his reasons and, given the circumstances, it may have made some sense to him to leave for what he intimated was a valid reason.
It never made sense to me.
To me– at seven– it was incomprehensible.
Inexplicable. I simply could not understand it.
When I got a little older, I thought it was cowardly, reprehensible, unforgivable.
At nine years of age I wanted to tack him down and kill him.
There is a letter acknowledging that fact.
I still think it was all those things, except maybe unforgivable, because I know how people react to life problems now.
I know many people can’t handle life the way they should or they way they want to.
It was 1947. World War II was over; most troops were home.
My father had not signed up for WWII because he had two children and a wife to support and he felt (I later heard) that that was more important. He stayed in Ottawa, Canada and worked.
He and my mother had a third child.
After the war, when the vets came home, he was out of a job.
He tried for a couple of years, getting piecework here and there in various kinds of electronics, mostly radio.
Finally, he decided to try a different city than Ottawa, which is a one-industry– government– town, as the national capital.
At seven, after he left, I felt it was my job to protect and support the family.
It was absurd, of course, and I even knew it at the time, but I felt the pressure of obligation.
After he left, my mother had her fourth child.
Fortunately, I did not feel what many children feel when a parent (usually, but not always, the father) leaves home–that it was my fault.
I did not feel that I was responsible for his leaving.
I did not feel that if I had only behaved better he would have stayed. The notion occurred to me but I knew it wasn’t true and I never thought it was or felt it. I am grateful for not having suffered that burden of guilt because I doubt I would have gone anywhere had I felt it.
However, I knew I was now the “man” of the family. I felt responsible for that.
I also knew there was no way I could handle that role.
What I did was think about my friends. Why did they have two parents and we (my two brothers and sister and I) had one?
When we had father-and-son nights at school, an uncle took me when he was in town.
The situation concerned me most because of how hard my mother had to work to keep us.
She first went to what passed for family services at the time and they told her to give us–the four children–up for adoption.
That was a short meeting.
My mother was smart, tough and dedicated. Giving up her children was not in the cards.
After that, I did what every kid did: went to school, played baseball, football and (street–ball) hockey. I had (and still have) many good friends from grade and high school although I lost one last week to cancer and heart trouble.
I was interested in life: why things happened the way they did; why people did one thing instead of another; how people made choices, and what happened when they did. How their choices affected other people.
Life was teaching me some hard lessons but I needed to learn faster because I saw certain kinds of things slipping away.
I was getting hard information– facts– but not causality.
I knew shit happened but I didn’t know why it did and I sure didn’t know why it was happening to my family.
So I turned to reading and the theater to learn faster.
In high school, I dropped piano (which I loved) because practice conflicted with play rehearsals. I wrote for the school paper, and wrote and performed stand-up comedy with my best friend. We still talk every week.
The three fields I considered in high school were law, writing/entertainment (expressed at the time as acting) and the priesthood.
Catholic. You just do think about it. You did then, anyway.
I dropped the priesthood fast, not because of the vows of poverty (I could have handled that) or chastity (although, really, that made no sense to me) but I could not take the vow of obedience.
I had already seen throughout grade and high school that some of the rules and pronouncements from the Church were misguided, wrong-headed, and indefensible, not to mention nuts.
I also had no father as a role model. My grandfather did what he could but we were four children and he was near retirement age and..well, you know. He certainly helped though.
However, when I looked at the three areas of law, the priesthood and writing/the arts/entertainment, it seemed to me that all three professions dealt with the same thing from different perspectives. They all dealt with the human condition: morality; mortality; right and wrong; good and evil; love and hate—human behavior.
I wanted to know everything about human behavior.
I wanted to know why we here on the planet and what we were supposed to do with our lives.
I wanted to know how one determined what you chose to do, how your figured that out, and how you got there.
If you got there.
I could see already (saw it in grade school: some girls got pregnant , two kids went to jail) that many people not only didn’t get there (wherever there was supposed to be for them) but they were not going anywhere.
If you didn’t get there, why didn’t you?
What stopped you from being YOU? The best you, you could be?
First, how did you decide what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Then, how did you know that was the right choice? Or even in the right ballpark?
And how did these realizations come to you–if they ever did?
In other words, who were you and what did you want?
And what obstacles were there that you had to overcome to get what it was you decided you wanted?
How did you figure out what you wanted and what did you have to do to get it? What road did you have to choose and then actively take?
I thought about those kinds of things from age seven. I remember doing it. (I guess I’m lucky I’m not in a nut house.)
In university, I did a double major: psychology and English. I still did a lot of theater.
While in university, I narrowed my career fields to writing and theater.
I decided against the law because I didn’t want to do corporate or civil law, and criminal law, although attractive, seemed to get bogged down too often in repetitive and trivial cases. I think I could have been a prosecutor or a defender–I saw the virtues in each.
Theater and writing it was. I took my undergraduate degree in Ottawa at Carleton University.
Actually it was at a small, excellent, liberal arts college, St. Patrick’s College, which was a part of the University of Ottawa. But before we graduated, St, Pat’s was traded from U. of O. to Carleton.
For a player to be named later.
I studied post-graduate film and psychology in Italy (University of Milan) and theater at Northwestern University in Chicago where I earned an M.A.
CUTTING TO THE CHASE
After graduate school, I was briefly at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival to work in the theater. (Professional theater has been one of my other pursuits.)I was an assistant to a director.
I did a lot of media work: journalism, radio, television, theater and university teaching in various fields of communication for many years.
While dean of English and communications at Seneca, the largest community college in Canada, I saw that the entry-level students were woefully under-prepared in, well, everything.
Many didn’t read and write “too good;” they had few academic skills; in fact, they had almost no learning skills of any kind. Most had no idea why they were in college, let alone the program they were in.
STUDENTS HAVE THREE PROBLEMS
FIRST REASON FOR SKC
They had three main problems: no academic expertise; no self-knowledge (about what program they should be in or what they should be doing after high school at all); and no time management (which is to say, no self-management) skills.
They failed at spectacular rates. They still do.
Just as students did and still do all over North America.
While at the college, I also taught effective presentation (speech writing and delivery) in a university (Ryerson, in Toronto) at the post-graduate level.
The students were academically fine (many had Phds–one person had two!) but some of them didn’t really know why they were taking a post-graduate degree in the program in which they had registered.
I couldn’t see myself going the VP and ultimately perhaps college president route at Seneca, so I resigned as dean of English and communications at the college to teach. I taught many communications courses; most had to do with writing, theater and student success through self-knowledge.
I discovered that the post-grad university students at Ryerson also profited by learning about themselves.
When people outside academia asked what I did for a living, and I explained how I taught self-knowledge so that people could make better decisions for themselves in all aspects of life, many people replied, “Hey, I could use that!”
That’s one reason I founded Self-Knowledge College.
SECOND REASON FOR SKC: PEOPLE GET OFF TRACK IN LIFE
I realize that people can be weak, fearful, undisciplined and many other unpleasant things. My father certainly was. He was overwhelmed by the circumstances he faced in life and folded.
When I was fifteen, I wanted to kill him for what he had done to my mother and his children.
Then I started to try to understand, not him (I had long stopped caring anything about him), but people in general.
That’s what I have spent my life trying to do.
That’s the second reason I created Self-Knowledge College.
THE THIRD REASON FOR SKC: WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
I also became disillusioned about love and wanted to understand it more.
But that’s another story for another day.
Still, my disillusionment about love prompted a study of it and now I think I get it (as much as anyone can say they get it-which is to say, not much)!
That’s the third reason I founded Self-Knowledge College.
THE FOURTH REASON FOR SKC: THIS STUFF IS DOABLE!
The fourth reason I started SKC is that most people do not achieve what they are capable of given their gifts, talents and abilities.
There are many explanations causes and reasons for that.
That’s part of what we’ll explore here on SKC.
There are other reasons I’m doing it, including the fact that I’m getting older, have lived a lot, seen a lot, and paid attention.
But those four are the main ones.
It’s about you and me and what we’re doing on this planet and how we can do it better and how to be more successful at it and happier about it.
I’m preparing several courses to teach some of the things I’ve learned about life and how to live it successfully.
I hope you’ll stay with me for a while as we investigate it together.
NEXT: YOUR GIFT FROM ME: A downloadable copy of my book…WAY. )
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? The way to know yourself and get what you want.