INTRODUCTION TO COMPLETED WORKING VERSION
I was five years old when I first decided to do this study, on the afternoon after my first morning of kindergarten. I was standing in our dining room, deep in thought, sorting out the proliferating implications that arose from the whole of my past slamming into the fact of compulsory school in my present – compulsory school, taking away from me my most treasured plans for my mind and my future and substituting the plans of people who had no idea children like me existed…or who knew and didn’t care. I wasn’t sure which.
And in the midst of sorting out the rapidly proliferating implications, I was struck by my several differences from other people. At age two I had begun to become aware of my differences – dramatic differences – between me and most other people. Age two was when I found out that other people did not remember being babies. My infant memories were an important part of my mind and my under¬standing, and were frequently coming forward. My past was always in my present, forming a background from which meanings grew. But when I first told my mother one of these memories, she was astonished, and told me that she knew of no one else who had memories of babyhood.
That was my first hint that my mind was different. I worried that maybe all young children remembered infancy but that in some way growing up caused everyone to forget. I promised myself not to forget, if I could help it. And then at age five, when my knowledge of my differences climaxed with awareness of the most profound difference of all – that other children did not think philosophically – I concluded that infant memory was probably also not common with most other children, and that my difference in memory was an important clue to the rest of my differences – including the ones that had resulted from my “crib-thinking” (my name for the philosophical thinking I had done in my crib before the age of four years).
On that afternoon after my first kindergarten class, I thought through many issues and set up many questions to be answered later. I saw that I had to do this if I were to be able to know how to handle the serious situation facing me. My greatest loves were being mowed under by the society I lived in, and I couldn’t live happily without them, because I couldn’t care about anything without those loves. They were basic to my mind. And that fact made me different, too – if most people loved what I loved they wouldn’t be destroying it. All the differences I had learned about myself between the ages of two and five now rushed in on me in a gigantic culmination, and I listed them in my mind, and it struck me for the first time that all of these differences must have a root difference from which all the rest grew. There must be some basic difference that had allowed me
to grow in such a dramatically different direction from most people. (I didn’t assume that I was the only one of my kind in the world, but the evidence I had collected up to that point suggested that I was rare, and possibly the only one of my kind.)
The clash between me and “society” – the majority who made the laws – put me at odds with the social world at the most profound level of my mind’s needs. I had to understand it. I had to understand my differences. I could see, then, some hypotheses as to what the root difference might be, but I knew it would take time to sort it all out, and that I might need to gather more information as well. And then I saw that the best way to really “go into it and find everything that’s in it” would be to put all my memories in chronological order, like a story. To write it down and say everything that was in each one of my memory packages – my memory episodes. And then I could mine my past for everything that was in it, and understand my differences, find their root, and anything else there was to learn. I had known for years that there was “a lot in every little thing.” And I also knew that there was a lot in the relationships between one little thing and other little things. So there was a treasure of understanding in putting one’s memories in order and mining them for all they’re worth.
But I couldn’t read or write. I’d have to wait until I could, and until I had my life to myself again…if ever. It was a big, big job. Bigger than my crib-thinking, which had taken… I didn’t know how long, but many nights.
What I could do until then was to keep remembering, keep my early memories alive, and keep looking for and thinking about where my differences began, keep looking for connections, finding questions and gathering information that might help me understand, until I had the ability and the time to write my life down and go into it for all it’s worth.
I worried that there would never be time to do this big project. Once I could write well enough, would I have time to do the project? Would school allow me time? And when I was an adult, would work allow me time? I didn’t think anyone else would want to know what I had to say (I won’t go into why, here, because it takes too much explanation. Wait until age five). I didn’t think I could make a living at my project. And yet, under¬standing my great treasure before I die, getting it all in order and seeing what my situation allowed me to see from my unusual perspective was the most important love in my mind. My original plans had been scrapped by the school law. To keep myself alive inside, I needed something with as much complexity and power to motivate me, give me a reason to care. Recording and “going into” my early life was the way to be true to my original
purpose even though I couldn’t carry the original through for reasons outside of my control. But would there be time to carry my new purpose through? I was worried, but I promised myself to keep it always with me in my mind, and to do as much of the work as I could in my mind, as I had always had to do my work, without writing.
As it turns out, my parents understand my need to do this project, and they see its value and believe I should do it. They are making it possible for me to give myself to this study, whether it is published or not. Although it’s taken me awhile to get around to the job full-time, I never stopped intending to do this work, but I knew that it was a huge task and would require full-immersion, and I had no idea how long it would take to do it to my satisfaction. I had some lesser, but important, purposes to satisfy which made more sense to do before than after this consuming project. And – most important and crucial to my health – I also needed a healing period from the 15 years of unrelenting strain, a strain that had lasted from kindergarten to my discovery of a kindred philoso¬pher who showed me that all is not lost. I desperately needed to gorge myself on her books, and on the fact that there were people who took her seriously, understood her, agreed with her – people I could meet, friends I could talk to about philosophical matters and be understood. Through her work I was able to find friends with the same basic philosophical principles as mine even if the more remarkable aspects of my past had to be kept to myself. To dive right back in and relive my years of stress and strain in detail without a healing period would not have been good for my health. The intensity of this project, the level of conscientiousness and concentration, of complexity and organization, as well as the nature of the content is emotionally as well as mentally demanding, and I have relived the physical stress symptoms of my school years as a result of reliving in-depth the facts and evaluations that gave me those symptoms the first time around. This has been no surprise; I knew it would require this type of endurance. (The fact that this volume is not about the school years is beside the point…it is the early years that set the context for the clashes of my school years. and as I work with my early years, I know what comes later. I’m thinking about more than the volume I’m writing at a given time: I’m immersed in the whole of my childhood.)
But even my healing period was not stress-free in relation to the subject of this work. The very nature of my context creates stress in me in regard to relation¬ships with other people and in regard to my longing to have a truly intimate friendship with someone other than my mother (intimacy, here, means profound closeness, not sex) . But intimacy is impossible unless you can reveal your most precious personal truths and be understood and believed – so for me to be understood and believed at the intimate level requires a very well-done presentation of
a large and unusual context…
Also during that healing period I felt enormous tension because I feared something might happen to me before I could fulfill my most important purpose. I would sometimes be gripped with the fear that I might die young and never get to fulfill my most extraordinary gift. But I survived my period of healing, and saw my other purposes through, and in the spring of 1993 I was finally ready to make this project my full-time work.
Have I exaggerated the level of my thinking capacity at age five? No. The ideas I’ve expressed as having been mine at that age were not only present after my first morning of school, but were only part of a more comprehensive effort to sort out a rapidly-growing mound of implications. That style of mind – of implications, alternatives, questions, objections proliferating as I focussed on a subject – began sometime at the age of two, as well as my love of sorting this material. It is that mental style that enabled me to work out a guiding philosophy between the ages of two and four, creating the mental context for the social clash at age five. By five I had been handling this kind of proliferating mental complexity, sorting it constantly, for about half of my life. And the more I learned, the more there was to sort. And in my philosophical clash with the human world my sorting job became an endless and pressing one.
I’m keeping my promise to write this book because it was the right promise to make for my own fulfillment, and because if I don’t do this study I’ll never be at peace with myself.