Like many children, I had fantastic parents, great older siblings, and a wonderful family. My childhood was pretty average; good and challenging times, but nothing uniquely different from a normal childhood. I was raised in a very uncomplicated place in simpler times. I didn’t have much, but I didn’t lack anything. I love the simplicity in my upbringing.
My father was killed early on in my life, needless to say we all dealt with his death very hard. I was six years old at the time. The loss of such a pillar in one’s life and family is not easy to deal with; and it is definitely not something one ever gets over. My family did the best they could with what they had to offer at that time. As a child I only understood that Dad was never coming back home. Observing everyone dealing with the loss was extremely confusing to say the least. For a while, I behaved and did well in school, even in military school, which was definitely more challenging than public school.
Years later, I went to live with extended family while my mother tried her best to make ends meet, as she remained a single mother for the better part of thirty years. Although academically I was very bright, as a teenager I made lots of bad decisions. I used the loss of my father and the period without my mother to justify my poor behavior.
Throughout my teenage years, I managed to get into a lot of trouble, including being expelled from multiple schools. As I got a bit older, I lost some friends to violence, depression, and some to the lifestyle we were living. One of my best friends was sentenced to over 20 years in prison and died in a car wreck shortly after his release.
I had to make a change. I was filled with guilt. I came from a good family, where we were raised in church. My father was a police officer. I felt that I was getting lucky that I had not been made a statistic yet. I had no idea how to change my life, since the changes needed were drastic. I needed a new mindset and drive, and to create a why. Everything in my life needed an overhaul.
How do I do this? Playing chess with friends and my younger cousin, I began to have conversations about change. Although they were responsive, nothing was changing. I guess I was hoping someone would kick-start change for me, but that was not the case. If you want to have something you never had, you have to do something you have never done.
Eventually, I picked up a book, then another, and another. In the appendix I include Adam’s Library with a pretty good list of some of those books. Before long, I found the mentors I had never realized that I needed so desperately. The authors were amazing. They were writing about all the things that really mattered in life that no one else seemed to be talking about. I began to resent religion because I felt that it had become a copout for reality. In reading some books that tried to depict good and evil rationally, I noticed there was a possibility that no such thing could exist, only perception. I wasn’t sure if that was correct, but knew that you couldn’t question these things in religion.
I dove deep into philosophy, quantum mechanics, metaphysics, and everything else I could find. Eventually, I began to appreciate religion again, but differently this time. Now I was intrigued by nearly all religions; all ways of life; all philosophies. From Taoism to Buddhism, Hinduism, even Bushido (the art of the samurai), I was absorbing it all, and loving it. I began to write and meditate often. I was reading and focusing on becoming a better man. I continued to strive for progress. I went after a higher education, worked a lot and was always looking to improve.
It was during this part of my journey that I met my wife. One Father’s Day, over a decade ago, my wife took some of my essays, thoughts, and stories and got them made into two copies of a manuscript, which I like to call my first book. It wasn’t published, but I felt that if anything ever happened to me, I had now left some advice and/or instructions for my son. Years before this, I was tearfully mourning my father in private asking him why he didn’t leave me a notebook, a recording, some kind of advice to help me through this cruel world. I then became aware of my hypocrisy, since I already had a child about the age I was when I lost my father.This was when I really got serious about writing for him, hence why the manuscript meant so much to me.
A few years later and with two more sons, I playfully, but not really, told my wife that I must write a book for the boys before they found out I had written one for their big brother.And this lingered in my mind until I decided to take my 70+ essays, thoughts, and stories, edit, organize, and create a book. That thought marinated in my mind a while longer.
A couple years ago, I practiced each day reading or saying the mantra “If I know better, why am I not doing better?” Although I was doing considerably better than the average man my age, and I was light years ahead of the lost young man I once was, I still yearned for progress. This mantra helped me achieve yet another level of awareness, conviction, self-responsibility, and accountability. It impacted me so much that I went to my computer and drafted a cover for a book naming it, If I Know Better, Why Am I Not Doing Better? This time I added the fact that this book would actually be published. I may not even be a good writer, but hey, nowadays I can self-publish and for my kids to have a published book written for them would be the cherry on top of the legacy I am leaving in their hearts and minds. This gave me a
little momentum to edit some more works of literature and organize them, but, you got it, that thought lingered in my mind a little while longer.
Late last year, I lay down with my boys to do our fun game of making up night-time stories to exercise their creativity. They did theirs and then it was my turn. It was one of those nights where I just drew a blank, so I went into my memory bank and remembered a little story in my oldest child’s manuscript that I made up called “An Atom in Heaven.” The story depicted the human experience, the gift of the senses, love, free will and such, through a conversation between an atom in the universe and his boss whom we call God but it could also be his higher consciousness. It was a hit! The boys loved it. They were so intrigued by the story that they began to wonder if they had that conversation with God before they were born. They attacked me with rapid-fire questions about the atom’s journey on Earth. Well, I had never made it past the great conversation with God, so I began to create the rest of the story. Finally, it was time to leave their room and, yup…. That thought ran around a day or two in my head. We discussed the idea of making the short story into a longer tale full of wisdom, lessons and such about the real world but in the format of the life of an atom.
The boys decided the name of the story should be An Atom’s Journey resembling the name of one of their favorite movies, A Dog’s Journey, I’m sure, and I thought it was perfect. I continued to work on the story on and off for a month or two on an extremely part-time basis. Then I had to temporarily move away for work and my wife gifted me a laptop for Christmas, so with a laptop and a new year I added the book to my goals. Maybe by the summer I could have it done, I thought. A book can be a serious process.
I wrote the main story and sent it to a couple of structural editors to see if it made sense, and I received good feedback. I shared it with one or two family members and got some more good feedback. My sons had been reading it as I was working on it back home and they enjoyed it.
I began reading this book a lot. This particular day I read and wrote all day long and nearly watched the sunrise before I stopped. I was absolutely cross-eyed. I knew I could submit the manuscript and get an author’s copy sent to me without publishing it for cheap, so I went on to complete that process. I didn’t realize that I could not do so without a cover, so I created one in a matter of two or three minutes. At this point, I had not put in a dedication page, an appendix, an introduction or anything, but then, as I sat there staring at the Submit button to publish it. I thought, Well, the book is primarily for my sons to know that Dad wrote and published a book for them. It’s not perfect, but I write about understanding the term “wabi sabi,” imperfect perfection, maybe that’s part of it. I’m not doing this for money. What’s important is to help others who don’t have a mentor like I didn’t. The ones in need are not going to care about the grammar errors that may be present and the ones who focus on the grammar errors are probably not going to benefit from this book anyway. Heck with it, I’m hitting the button! And so I did.
One of the things I had to do when publishing it was to categorize it, and still struggle. Originally I wanted to write a children’s book, since my little ones were still children. Then I thought that the lessons would stop soon after they read it because we all know how fast time goes by. Then I decided to write it in the simple form of a double-spaced, semi-large font with thick indentations all around so a child could read it with ease and maybe it could be the first book a child reads cover to cover with no pictures throughout. Furthermore, I wanted it to include lessons for the teenage years for my kids. The more I pondered it, I thought maybe a teenager could pick up this book. Even a parent might give their teenager this book, and they would be young enough to relate to the youth chapter. They might even be experiencing similar issues that Adam was going through in his teenage years.
It was all clicking. If a child reads the book, it can be used as a tool to help them get through life. Like I did, I always reflect back on the first few practical books I’ve read. For the teenager, if they relate, maybe they will start to trust me as the author and read along in order to build a strategy to overcome some of the teenage years growing pains. Plus they can get a head start on how to deal with the next few decades. Maybe they’ll keep the book around as I have with older books and reread as needed, or gift them when necessary.
In chapters 5 and 6, I go into detail on many normal challenges one encounters in the 30s and 40s, and hopefully, with some very practical advice to overcome them. See my conundrum? Although it does seem like a book for all ages, I don’t know where it fits into a category. Is it a fictional story that’s also very real? Is it a short story that has taken 45 years to complete? Is it a children’s story that discusses marriage and raising children? Or can it be considered a religious book? Although God could really just be Adam’s higher consciousness. This is a conundrum indeed.
Now you have a pretty good background of myself as the author, and more importantly, how this beautiful little story came about. I hope that you find the journey an inspirational one and be sure to use the spaces between the sentences and around the borders to take notes. The story is fun, but the lessons are priceless.
PS. Not to worry, since I wrote this, the book has been edited and proofread 😉
Stay in the Fight!