by Herman I Neuman
With near-death experiences baby boy began to see the light
Throughout his youth of suffering from torture and fright.
His parents crushed his spirit; so he was destined to fail.
Popular presumptions affirmed he would spend many years in jail.
Floggings, homelessness, hunger, school failure and slavery
Earned him misunderstanding about his innocence, patience and bravery.
A horror-filled first-quarter century he never deserved,
Whence a great paradox he became who just quietly observed.
H. Auden reminded a world without mirth
In his poem, September 1, 1939, the year of baby boy's birth:
"I and the public know what all school children learn,
Those to whom evil is done do evil in return."
The shell of to whom evil was done cracked from deepest pain.
By lacking hate, wisdom and understanding became his gain.
Prescience and spiritual connections are part of his blessedness
That helped guide him to overcome brutal reality and learned helplessness
Always sharing his trauma-derived knowledge with a compassionate spirit,
Once with a group-thinker who kept rubbing his neck, not wanting to hear it,
About his recent recovery from a very slow common-chemicals death.
"You scare me!" the frightened one retorted and not under his breath.
Emotions and false-belief entrapments can cause people to suffer.
Some will not grasp the insight world champion survivors can offer.
So do you know why this one would not kill or did not die?
A world traveler, spiritual care volunteer, inspirational speaker became I.
thought-provoking and hauntingly beautiful,...
(See bottom of this page to read quotes of wisdom by famous people that relate to my biographical poem above.)
... like the community park Herman and his wife created with uncountable hours of sweat-producing labor:
Psychotherapist Belleruth Naparstek has counseled many trauma survivors and describes several blessings that some of them receive from their suffering in the final chapter her book, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal:1
"Joy, compassion, heightened creativity, survivor power and spiritual connection…
"Many survivors express gratitude for the renewed connection with the divine1a that their journey has brought them. They describe a more intimate relation with God. Often they talk about a new found ability to source nourishment and renewal from every corner of the universe, every part of the natural world. There is a profound and palpable peacefulness that comes from deep inside of them. This inner light, capacity for joy, peaceful centeredness, acceptance of their own strength, and intuitive understanding of others acts subliminally to attract others to them. These are the heroes who lead the way with equal measures of gentleness and personal power. And they remind the one who are still struggling that they can reclaim their lives too."
To be thrown upon one's own resources is to be
cast into the very lap of fortune....
~ Benjamin Franklin
Handsomely equipped to fail, I went out into the world.
~ John Fowles, from The Magus
So was I. Would I become a failure or be cast into the lap of good fortune?
My life experiences taught me that I have nothing to fear, except mostly myself. The heaviest ball and chain holding back my positive progress in life was the fearful state of my mind.
Do you sometimes feel that you "cannot take it anymore?" If so, let me demonstrate to you that you do not have to feel or think that way. You can be healthier and emotionally much stronger than you might think. But it requires patience, discipline, curiosity and the right attitude. When you enjoy life, it is also easier to achieve your goals.
How do I know? From years of extremely brutal personal suffering and subsequent triumphs over unbelievable odds. I had to crawl out of my early-life man-made hell, single-handedly, without one mentor. Because I did not buckle under, I learned many unusual lessons from a terrorized childhood and deepest poverty. Thereafter, I worked my way through college to become an independent world traveler and an independent, intuitive thinker.
By the time I was only twenty years old, I had to endure the following episodes with unending, lonely patience, without anyone to mentor or console him.:
Diphtheria - Whooping cough - War - Years of near-starvation - Years of homelessness - Years of judicial injustice and bare-buttocks floggings - Years of chronic ear infection - School failure - Years of extreme culture shock, social isolation, hard labor and slavery* - and much more.
As you can imagine, I freaked out. Totally. I went berserk and with my wife created a community park filled with trees and flowers.
I became a great paradox. Instead of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I am now enjoying Post-Traumatic Blessings Order (PTBO). I did not became bitter or revengeful but received many blessings from my unbelievably impossible long-term traumas. I did not become what is commonly accepted as the most likely result of growing up in an exploded family.
I became the exact opposite. Benjamin Franklin said: "To be thrown upon one's own resources is to be cast into the very lap of fortune...." This wisdom proved to be very true for men and that made me " an unusual man."
For example, after my new wife and I graduated from college together, we saved enough to travel around the world for six months. My satirical, blunt-truth memoir, Heroes from the Attic: A Gripping True Story of Triumph, reads like bizarre fiction and includes a chapter about our low-budget travel adventures. We have now been married almost fifty years.
Amazingly, a hard life is often quite preventable, because such is mostly man-made and often even self-inflicted. Episodes in your life that seem to be impossible to overcome can be dealt with through self-discipline, patient endurance and research.
After my almost terminal ear infection as a toddler, people thought that I had become an idiot, and I also had to learn to walk again. It also caused proud flesh, that is wild meat, to grow in my head during more than a dozen years thereafter. An Internet search for "proud flesh" indicates that I may be the only human being during recent Western history that has ever done so over a such a long period of time.
And as if all of those problems were not enough, one of my slave masters made me live in a shack, shown below, in which he had stored dynamite. Unbeknownst to anyone, this explosive became highly unstable and dangerous. A bomb disposal expert stated that I should have exploded.
In spite of my horrendous early life, I still do not go into denial about large problems. On the contrary. I almost automatically seek them out, wherever I may find them, in order to be able to avoid or help improve them.
Readers and audiences cannot believe that I is still sane or even alive. They continue to report that my story"...is one of the best books I've ever read," and that "this book should be in all schools."
As a child I virtually "turned the other cheek" thousands of times, so to speak. And literally all four of them too many times. However, do not be saddened by my beginnings because in spite of, or because of, my long sufferings, I received many unusual blessings as mentioned above.
People frequently ask me questions like, "How were you able to deal with your stresses? How did you manage to survive?" After having thought about this for a long time, I had to conclude that it could only have been through divine intervention. It could not have been any other way. The odds of my survival, or remaining sane, had been so low that he now challenges anyone to demonstrate how it could have been otherwise. My conclusion seems to be affirmed by many people who have learned his story: "The human potential seems to be infinite!" and "God's plan for you is to inspire."
I earned a five-year engineering degree from Washington State University. I was a spiritual care volunteer at regional medical center and a psychiatric and addiction services facility. I received nominations for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. I am a former member of The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, a past chapter president of Toastmasters International, a former member of a chamber of commerce, a planning and zoning commission and a long-time board member of a water users association. I was a founder and president of a corporation and a homeowners association.Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.
~ Calvin Coolidge
Quotes of wisdom that highlight the brutal reality and blessings reflected in my poem:
When I feel the
Heat, I see the Light.
~ US Senator Everett Dirksen
I have but one lamp ..., and that is the lamp of Experience.
~ Patrick Henry...
To acquire Wisdom one must Observe.
~ Marilyn vos Savant
The only source of Knowledge is Experience.
~ Albert Einstein
Your Pain is the breaking of the Shell that encloses your Understanding.
~ Khalil Gibran
You can avoid Reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding Reality.
The most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit.
~ Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson
* One of the two of my masters forced me to work in mud and manure and would not allow me to bathe or shower under the threat of physical punishment. My brother testified before a District Court that our relatives "had enslaved us."