Your Life, Your Story
From the time I had taken my first breaths in Gardner Massachusetts, I was born an introvert, comfortable in my own skin and always to myself. I spent most of my time playing baseball pickup games with the boys in my small town, back when I could play all day and carried no worries.
My parents had always taught my siblings and I to respect others and their boundaries. I had three siblings and people used to refer to me and my older brother as “Pete” and “Repeat” because we looked so similar. Sometimes I felt as though I would never live up to him, as he was always considered the star of our family. My siblings and I all went our own way once we grew up, however recently we have been brought together, making an interesting dynamic.
It was always an understanding that, once I had finished college, I was out of the house. I needed to be ready to face the world head on. In turn, with the help of my high school guidance counselor, I found a path that led me to 35 years as a Probation Officer. I did this for four reasons: I loved the law, counseling, writing, and the courts. And, I thought that a Probation Officer encompasses all these things. I was lucky to find this job, or sometimes I think it found me. I always wished everyone in my cases well when I was done with them, but I gave them the empowerment to go on the wrong side or the ride side. I didn't take the credit when they chose success, and I didn’t take the blame either. I was always anxious someone would fall off the rails.
My family and I always had an honorable work ethic. It wasn't just about having the job, but making sure you showed up everyday. In 35 years, I never took one sick day. Rain or shine, there were no excuses for not doing your best. I worked nonstop, holidays, Saturdays, night time, and whenever I had the chance.
When I was in high school I always enjoyed studying social sciences such as political science. Once I got to college at the University of Southern Maine, I studied criminal justice when many schools didn't even have that as a class. I then had a one year exchange program with Buffalo State in New York. Five years ago, I had my mandatory retirement so now I spend much of my time volunteering by reading to the blind through an amateur radio station. Perhaps this points out my shyness because you can be on the air but nobody sees you. They just hear your voice, allowing me to be the invisible man. I appreciate the difference in everyone's voice and it’s uniqueness that people take advantage of. When I don't do this, I focus on exercise, eating healthy, or doing the things I put off from work, I try my best to make every day a little different.
As I have gotten older, I have started to be more comfortable socially. Perhaps that came with the job I pursued. But, I have always liked being invisible and I never beat myself up over it. It is what it is. As a kid, people would tell me that I had to get out of my shell like there was something wrong with me, and I always told them that I was comfortable with it. Over the summer, I had shaved my head in solidarity for a friend of mine with cancer. And, once I got my head shaved, I really was invisible. People I knew didn't even recognize me.
I am not married, however, if I had to give a piece of advice to someone on maintaining a longtime friendship, I would say it is important to be yourself, because everything comes out eventually. The most important thing in life is to treat people right. It makes it easier to let people in. There is a lot of hurt in this world and everyone can do better, however we should take note of all of the good we have done as well. As a kid, I remember how stressful it was to be out on your own with all this pressure. As an adult, when I coach a Rec league baseball team, all I wanted to do was take stress off of the kids. I always pictured myself as the common man. But something I value in myself is that I don’t care about backgrounds. I treated everyone the same whether or not they were worth two million dollars. I want people of the younger generation to be good listeners. It helps you to be less inclined to make assumptions about people. Bill Clinton used to recite the famous quote “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak." If I could go back in time, I would have made myself more self-aware. Sometimes you do things and you don't realize the amount of people that notice it. I don't pay attention to the world as much as I should, but I have always had an appreciation for the things in nature.
Looking back on my life, I never really had any second thoughts. I hold no regrets. As I got older, I started to be more honest with my doctors by telling them exactly what is on my mind. But, the one thing I have learned is that I don't care how nice they are or their bedside manner. I want them to be brutally honest with me about things. I always felt like I was on the outside, but when it comes to medical purposes, I want to be on the inside. I want to know the good and bad.