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~ A Journey of Self-Discovery ~

From The Perspective of a Child

By Charlie Badenhop

An open back truck carrying a children's ride and blaring out music, used to come round my neighborhood in Brooklyn during the summer. When I was eight years old this truck was THE thing I yearned for.

You heard the music in the distance...
Raced to your mom demanding money...
Ran madly to the truck hoping to be the first in line...
Hopped aboard when it was finally your turn...
Had your ride (which was always too short)...
And upon exiting you got a small "gift" (which most of the time was pretty boring.)

On one particular day towards the end of summer, my gift from the driver was a sheet of tattoos. I quickly got VERY excited because smack dab in the middle of the sheet, was a HUGE tattoo showing Davie Crockett killing a HUGE bear. The tattoo was so big, and in my eyes so realistic looking, that it was actually scary!

I ran home to have the tattoo applied to my bare chest, and I remember thinking how great it was I didn't yet have hair on my chest, because hair would have only made the tattoo impossible to properly apply.

What happened next, was a tragedy that took me a long time to get over, and I'd like to pause now, for a moment of silent remembrance...

As hard as it might be to believe, my father wet the tattoo instead of my skin, and I was quickly left standing there with black water running down my chest, and great big tears running down my face, as I fell into a state of shock and disbelief.

It took me a couple of minutes to pull myself together and run outside, hoping to catch the truck before it made its way to Flatbush or Coney Island. But for some still unknown reason this was meant to be one of the darkest days of my life, and the truck was nowhere to be found.

As a child, especially during the summer, each day is a grand adventure, and each day often seems endless, and totally absorbing. This sense of fully being in the moment is one of the true gifts of childhood, and at times it can also be a liability. Children have little sense of the length and breadth of their life, and thus one bad moment often seems to extinguish the possibility of happiness in the future.

I can look back on numerous events I felt played a major role in determining the course of my life. In hindsight I see the course of my life was determined by ME, and not the events that were seemingly forced upon me.

As an adult I realize each moment leads to another moment, each event leads to another event. I can choose which moments and events I want to give the most importance to, and which moments and events I will use to define my life. By accepting that much of what goes on in life is outside my control, I can free myself to pay attention to the aspects of my life I do have some ability to influence. During challenging times I can give thanks for the future, knowing that even as day turns into night, and spring turns into summer, my bad time will turn into a good time, my sadness will turn to joy. When the challenges of life seem too big, it's comforting to know nothing stays the same forever. Neither the bad times or the good.

By the way, I'm still in the market for some Davey Crockett tattoos. If that truck happens by your neighborhood, be sure to stop the driver and see what he's got. I wouldn't be surprised if he still remembers me!

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