My First Five Years

I’ve been asking family about my first five years, because I hardly remember them. I’m told I was an anxious needy child who sought constant reassurance. I loved to play games, particularly anything to do with killing. I drew a lot of stick figures fighting out scenes from the Bible. My favorite gift in my first few years were toy soldiers from my brother, oh, how I loved to maneuver them around in the dirt and go to war. My brother did much of the looking after of me and because of the eight-year age gap, I wasn’t much fun. I cried easily when I got hurt and he got blamed. We used to play conkers and soccer in England. I identify today with my early love of things military, with my love of games and competition, and with my easily hurt feelings. On this vacation, I’m peering into the mists of time and seeing how the child prefaced the man, and how my ancestors prefigured my life.

* Since I was four, I’ve spent less than four years of my life with my sister nearby, and less than eight years with my brother. Until my 20s, I struggled with the meaning of terms such as “uncle”, “aunt”, “cousin”, “niece” etc because I had so little contact with my extended family.

* I’m meeting all these friends I haven’t seen in 30 plus years and they’ve all done better than me in the important respects of marriage, children, and providing for retirement. I find this a tad embarrassing. I try to answer their questions honestly and admit I’ve stuffed up and I’m not sure where I’m headed and then there are these awkward pauses where they try to cheer me up.

* I wasn’t ready to go all Elliot Rodger Sunday afternoon, but I did feel a twinge looking at all the happy couples on Brisbane’s South Bank.

* I used to look forward to going to shul because all of my friends were there, but then all of my friends got married, had kids and moved ahead with their careers. Now going to shul is a constant reminder that I am a loser. Not so much fun anymore.
It was easier to fool people in my 20s and 30s that I belonged.
I used to be charming and outgoing. I could be the life of the party. My world has shrunk over the past decade. I now enjoy the company of less than 1% of the people I see regularly.
The more confidence and joy I have, the more money I have, the more I enjoy other people and want to reach out to them. The more broke I am, the more defeated, the less I feel like reaching out.
Purely on the basis of my disposition, I’m evenly placed between introverted and extroverted. The better I’m doing in life, the more outgoing I am.

Dan emails:

Hey Luke! It’s been great reading your blog lately. I really do empathize with your dismay over your lack of success compared to your friends. I, of course, had a very rocky start compared to many of my friends and find myself without the success many of them have had.
But I have also avoided so many of the pitfalls that others among them fell into (student debt, bad mortgages, divorce after having children) and do actually have a bit in the way of skills to show for myself. The Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and a couple others have been shielded from the economic collapse by gas/oil discoveries and a largely non-government-dependent population.
I think a couple other people have given you this advice, as well: Don’t get down on yourself for not having as much as some do. In many ways, you excel your peers (self-knowledge, intelligence, etc) and there is a strong foundation in place for future economic success. I know about myself that after resolving the emotional issues resulting from my childhood, my economic frontiers began to open.

A friend says: “There is a sorting out that happens as you age. In your twenties you can all sort of be in the same place, but then people who make wise choices race ahead.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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