Who I Am
Well, where else to start but from the beginning. Here goes.
I’m Sheldon, but prefer to go by S.E., although no one I know actually calls me that. I figured I’d use a pen name like J.K. or R.R. as I begin my quest to become a writer.
I grew up on a small island country in the Pacific called the Republic of Palau, population just over 18,000. It’s a great place to grow up for many reasons, including year-round tropical weather and a tight-knit community, among other things.
However, like most places, it’s not all sunsets and palm trees like you see in the picture. There are strict societal rules that we either abide by or get treated as outsiders.
Ironically, “Outsiders” was my name of my high school’s basketball and volleyball team. Also, in junior varsity, the word “Shasta” was printed on the back of our basketball shorts, across the buttocks area. I’m not exactly sure why, but it most likely had something to do with the soft drink Shasta. My favorite flavor was Dr. Shasta. What’s yours? Tell me in the comments.
Along with basketball, I also played volleyball and tennis during my youth. I was pretty good at all three. During junior year, I was selected to play for the junior national basketball team, unfortunately the games were canceled because of a typhoon. I also represented my country in tennis from 7th grade until sophomore year.
I attended a private Christian academy from kindergarten until my junior year, before transferring to the local public high school where I finished up my last year, graduating in 2004. I had literally grown up with many of my classmates from the Christian academy and I was very sad when I realized I had to change schools. The reason for my transfer is a whole ‘nother story in itself.
After graduation, I got my future wife pregnant, lost my mother to an illness she’d been battling for many years, moved in with my grandma (I actually moved in with her senior year), washed and vacuumed rental cars for money, worked as a assistant bus and boat operator for money, sold fish for money, hunted for money. I pretty much tried to hustle my way through life, unsuccessfully.
I was becoming a drain on my father’s bank account and was taking advantage of my grandma’s maternal instincts. Basically, I was a grown-a** child with a baby on the way. He, my baby, was born 5 months after my mom passed.
Enter Uncle Sam and the U.S. Army. I was the perfect target for the Army recruiters. Jobless, broke, and desperate. The $1,000 signing bonus was all it took for me to put my signature on the enlistment contract. Yes. $1,000! I felt like an idiot when I arrived at basic combat training and realized some of my fellow soldiers got up to $10,000 and got to choose their duty stations after completing training, but I digress.
I made it through basic combat training and advance individual training and ended up stationed at Fort Lewis, WA (now called Joint Base Lewis-McChord or JBLM). My wife and son joined me here in the Pacific Northwest in 2007, followed by my little sister in 2008. My beautiful daughters joined our family in 2008 and 2011. I was medically discharged from the Army in 2009. I spent the following 10+ years raising a family, making memories (both good and bad), learning from mistakes after making them multiple times, fighting past demons (I’m still fighting btw), on top of dealing with an illness of my own.
Why I’m Here
Just over a year ago, I received the gift of life from a generous stranger. The ultimate “Good Samaritan” who made the ultimate sacrifice to give the ultimate gift. A kidney. I keep this gift in my lower right abdomen and it reminds me everyday to be grateful.
I face the ultimate dilemma however. I’m sure you would agree that it’s quite rude to not thank someone who has given you a gift, especially one that has saved your life. So, how do I go about doing this?
Well, that’s one of the main reasons I’ve decided to do this blog. I’ve come to realize that (cliche warning) life is short and the most valuable currency is time.
I feel like the movie “In Time” starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, encapsulates my life almost perfectly. For 10+ years I was spending 3 days out of the week receiving dialysis treatments while watching the countdown clock of my life tick down. Believe me, it’s no way to live. Then one day a perfect stranger gifted me all this extra time before they “timed out.”
This is my second chance and I’m determined not to waste it. Some people have asked me what I plan to do post-transplant. Some have suggested getting a job or going back to college to pursue a career. Job? No thank you. College? Why not, but not in pursuit of a career though.
I’ve decided to pursue what I loved when I was a child. Art, writing, music, pretty much all the creative things that fascinated my much younger self. If it leads to a career, great! But I prefer to look at it as my calling. Think about it. Now I may be wrong, but doesn’t it seem like most of our happiest memories can be traced back to our childhood.
We’ve turned ourselves into boring robotic adults just so we can make a living. But, is it really living if our dreams have to take a backseat to putting up with monotonous jobs that stifle our once vibrant creativity?
Somewhere along the way most of us decided that our childhood dreams and aspirations were just fantasies, and are not realistic in the “real world.”
Well, guess what real world? (Cliche warning) I dare to dream!
If you’ve read this far, thank you! I wish you the best of luck in your pursuits, whatever they may be. Click on the star to like this post if you think it’s worthy. Leave a comment and share it with your friends. All the best.