I made some bacon in the oven this morning. At 42 years old, I just learned that sweet little technique from my sister a couple of weeks ago. No stove mess. Bacon is more uniform. Delish.

But I can't help but wonder why it took me so long to know this little fact.

It never came up.

Then I think of the holes in knowledge we all carry around with us, an errant word definition or pronunciation, mistaken geographic data or mismatched historical timeline.

For example, when I was just about done with the 4th grade my teachers all got the big idea it would be good to send me and five of my fellow future 5th graders to the 6th grade school. This other school had only 6th graders. So we would go to all their classes, spend our recesses and lunches with them and other than attending the year-end environmental camp essentially act as 6th graders.

At the time, I thought of it as a compliment to my intelligence, almost like I was being moved ahead a grade.

But it didn't play out like that. Not for me, anyway.

Here's what happened:

1) I was completely unprepared for the 6th grade curriculum. This was especially damaging in mathematics. In fact, I became convinced I wasn't a math guy. This carried through 8th grade. It wasn't until my 9th grade teacher showed some faith in me that I realized I was excellent at math. I even went on to a couple semesters of Calculus in college.

2) I didn't learn my capitals. You know in fifth grade when you learn all the states' capitals? I didn't do that. Most people probably forget this by their teens, but still.

3) I was suddenly the target of every bully. I was thin and fairly weak back in the day and I was scared because I had no friends in the grade above me. I was easy to pick on and those guys gravitated towards me like flies on cow pies. This, unfortunately, continued through maybe the 10th grade, when the muscle fairy finally decided to stop by and say hello. Plus the grade above me basically lost interest. They were seniors by then, after all.

4) The following year, when I was reintroduced to my class, I was a nervous stranger. They all had a year of memories and because I was so socially backwards in the first place, getting back into the crowd, getting comfortable with my peers, took many, many moons.

5) The following year, I got to do 6th grade poorly all over again. I still didn't know all those things I didn't know and I had no way to reclaim any of it.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, holes in our knowledge. I guess it boils down to holes in our experiences, which lead to holes in our knowledge.

I love the life I have and the people I am so fortunate to have in it. But I can't help but wonder sometimes how fundamentally different I would be, how different my personality, my confidence, my diligence, my simple intelligence would be if I had spent 5th grade with 5th graders.

Then I think that maybe I would have not become a writer, may have not turned to what is essentially a self-taught endeavor, may have been a sports guy or something, and I'm all finished feeling sorry for myself.

End of whine...



  1. Wow! This bit of your history has been a hole in MY knowledge!
    I love you just the way you are, uncle! xoxo

  2. This didn't sound like whining to me at all. It does seem like it was not the best thing for a fifth grader to be with the sixth graders but you got through it. And the way you describe yourself back then you would have been thin and somewhat shy no matter where you went to school. You do have confidence now. You are a business man and husband and father and you are a writer and lots more. Maybe you would have been an astronaut or vice president but other than that, you turned out great. Hubby and I think so anyway.

  3. Kia Ora for New Zealand!

    I went to a school in the UK that did a fair amount of this kind of stuff, experimenting with new fangled exam formats, trendy class structures and stuff; well-intended I'm sure but not always good for the unsuspecting recipients.

    We had a great maths teacher, Mr Allison, who really connected with us and taught the less able of us good strategies to work things out for ourselves. He was soon spirited away to work with the gifted kids and we got a guy who simply couldn't understand why we couldn't understand - 'It's simple, boy, anyone can see how easy this is!' Not a bad person, just not great at teaching those who didn't 'get' his subject.

    I didn't hate school - just bits of it like the bullying and the way the less able of us felt - but I also wonder how things might have been different.

    That said, I have had an interesting life - with a variety of high points and low points, joys and worries - that has turned out nothing like I thought/hoped it would. Who can tell what it might have been otherwise?

    On that note, I have this morning just finished a book this morning on this very theme of life and expectations called "Beachcombing at Miramar: The Quest for an Authentic Life" by Richard Bode. A small book that rewards the slow thoughtful reader and resonated with me where I am in my life right now. I don't have all the answers (and the books doesn't and shouldn't have them either) but I recognise and cherish the journey Bode writes about.

  4. I love you to Treen. Thanks.

    TB you are too kind. But I'll take it. Thank you.

    Yeah, Buzz, I think we may be related. Any Welsh descendants? Dutch?

  5. Yeah, when you don't know what you don't know, you begin to question yourself and your choices. Don't. You are who you were meant to be.

    That's what I know, though lord knows what I don't know about that...

  6. F.L. - Thank you very much! You are so right. I am who I was meant to be. Gotta be cool with that, because, well, what else am I going to do. :) Appreciate the comment.

  7. what a great post Casey. Truly thought provoking. You have turned out so well


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