Originally Posted by Bette
What one thing or things changed your life? (for the better) - A job decision, a move, meeting the right person at the wrong time or the right time, having children, etc?
In retrospect they look like steps, but at the time I tended to see them as separate events.
Being raised in a small town in the 40s and 50s, and being out in the fields and woods or down by the river a lot - a completely priceless heritage, beyond in worth anything I ever got from religion, politics, formal education.
At 19 being able to face the doubts I had about the religion I was raised in - and had been devoted to, and to follow through questioning and not letting myself be intimidated. I departed amicably on my part, and came to believe that all god-belief was delusion. It was a very scary and difficult path for a traditionally oriented youngster, but it taught me about responsibility, questioning, etc. like nothing else ever did.
At 22, a small-town boy, I decided to go to a city of eight million people to find a job, and to experience living with all the immigrant cultures that fascinated me and see all the things the Big City was famous for. I had fifty bucks (clearly, we are talking very naive
, small town boy), was scared witless, and ended up living in a rundown Puerto Rican neighborhood because that was all I could afford. I could never have realized how much daring to do that would go toward breaking the mould of my life up to that point.
At around 40, I decided that having a good time had simply become the equivalent of boozing, and I smoked several packs of cigarettes a day as well. I quit: I thought I would die, then I wished I would. But then I felt great, and my social life improved about 99 percent. And fortunately having become a Living Saint no one else's boozing or smoking ever bothered me at all.
Around age 50 I began volunteering to help terminally ill people...visiting at home, listening. And with some - cleaning them when they became incontinent, helping with medications, staying with them when they were serious debilitated, and sitting with them as they died. Did this for about eight years.
Two or three years after this began, I became interested in a non-theist "spiritual" discipline, and discovered that unbeknownst to me that there were several groups that met in my neighborhood. This assisted enormously in giving shape to a lot of what had been going in my life for several years. And as I get closer and closer to going over the hill I realize what a great help this has been in my life.
In my early 60's I gave away my furniture, etc. left the U.S. and went off to live in Europe.