All Over the Map

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

We often think that life should begin with loving parents and progress onward and upward, right? But that is not how it always happens. Sometimes we move inward for a time and it takes trust in people and the world outside ourselves to reach out and become what we are destined to become. Much of what we are is what is in our genes but the part of us that can be molded is still there to use--to bend and twist into what we end up with as adults.

Parts of my being did not fully emerge until a little later in life but that being was always there, ready to unfurl like the tendrils of a plant reaching for the sun. Then nothing could stop me thinking about the world in broad terms as if everyone on earth was waiting for me to unfold. There were hints of what I was to become very early and even if I didn’t know it myself, I was evidencing my spirit—my “what I wanna be” talents. Even they were somewhat skewed and not evenly distributed but I was able to use them instinctively without appreciating what I really had inside me.

It wasn’t until a test that I took in psychology class that I learned that I was all over the map. Yes, I had interests that indicated that I could choose from many different careers.

That resulted in my reaching out in all directions without knowing just which one would win out. If I had been born in New York City, the center of opera and the publishing industry, I might even have gone into opera or writing as a lifetime endeavor. Don’t get me wrong. A person can fulfill dreams in many different ways without having to make any one interest a life’s calling. Avocations such as this column can enrich one’s life and without them life would be dull and boring.

Maybe you have read the speech that Bill Gates made to a high school—a hard hitting speech about life being tough so get used to it. It is pretty on the mark except for the fact that learning the hard lessons of life doesn’t have to start too soon. Even the Japanese who died rather than be captured during WWII believed in nurturing and pampering very young children and allowing them a period of exploration and tender loving care before the age of six. Then they were allowed to learn about life’s pitfalls. Even the so-called lower animals provide such nurturance until the fledgling is able to face the oft times cruel outside world. It must be heartrending to finally have to go it alone, so to speak, after being nurtured and cared for. Even turtle babies have to face a trek to the ocean fraught with all manner of predators before they can cross the rocky beach to the water—many not ever making it—either dying on the hot rocks on the way to the ocean or becoming food for other creatures.

Parent figures do the best they can with the knowledge and power they have to protect their young until the trials of living as an adult are upon them. Even though we do not condone the behavior of all the people around us, we can try to help those who have not been fortunate enough to learn the skills that Bill Gates says each one must have to face the world. Fortunately there are many people who are willing to help those who have failed to learn these essential life skills. These nurturers do not usually fall into the ranks of the powerful moneymakers in the shark tanks of reality TV. In that milieu only profits count and those not gutsy or talented enough to survive are thrown back. Rarely does the world of glitzy TV and internet see the nurturance of the helping professionals who are not in it just for the money. But it is there fortunately. Humans are capable of empathy and reaching out to offer a helping hand. If this caring nature is nourished in more of us humans there may be hope for the world after all.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at 206-935-8663 or

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