I learned to swim at the same time I learned to walk. Not such a strange idea living in Miami Beach. Of course, we know babies can swim without any instruction. The fear of drowning is learned.

When only 2-3 years old, we flew on an airplane to visit my mother’s parents. The engines were propeller-driven. It was loud. Very loud. And the plane was not very insulated. I remember feeling the cold.

After I learned Sat Kriya, a meditation where you touch your fingers in sequence while chanting, I used to touch my finger when walking in school as a thirteen-year-old. The reason I remember is that some of the children made fun of me for touching my fingertips.

To make money and learn responsibility, I had a Sunday paper route. I would get up early, ride with my bicycle to a local park where the large heavy Sunday edition was waiting for me to pick up. I had to put the individual papers into a plastic bag and deliver them to all the houses on my route. It took nearly two hours to do the whole process. I remember waking up late one morning shocked that I had missed getting up to deliver the papers. I quickly got dressed, rode as fast as I could to get the papers to deliver. They were not there. I believed the manager may have done the job I slept through. When returning home I told my mother what happened. She laughed and reminded me that in truth I had gotten up on time, had delivered the papers, and went back to sleep. It seems I forget I had done all that. The power of a habit.

In high school, each person was given an identity. The most common were the people who were smart, athletic, popular, creative, and so forth. Some friends and I were in the category that could be called, rejects. At least we had each other. One day in the cafeteria, a friend and I had agreed to begin speaking in a language other than English. Since we did not know another language, we made one up, gibberish. We began speaking this imaginary language with such expression, passion, and determination, that many of the other students came over to listen and ask what were we speaking. We continued the game as long as we could. It was fun to experience the interest from the non-rejects.

On the first day of Christmas vacation at a friend’s house, a bunch of us were playing touch football. Get the ball, run, and if you are touched by a member of the other team, it is as if you were tackled. Not long after we began, there was a play where I ran with the ball, and ended up on the ground, with the largest friend landing on top of me. He caught my arm in just the wrong position and ‘snap’ went my right forearm. I knew it was broken. So I left the game and holding my arm, rode my bicycle home where I informed my mother my arm was broken. At the hospital, they confirmed my diagnosis and set my arm in a cast for the next six weeks. I learned to write, eat, and do lots of other stuff with my left arm. I unique way to develop the other half of my brain.

My two younger brothers and I used to play wrestle and fight in our living room. We used to build these great forts using the pillows from the sofa. During one pretend fight an ashtray was broken into many pieces. We gathered all the pieces and carefully glued them all back together. It worked. My parents never noticed. Until about fifteen years later when they were moving, my mother discovered the ashtray had been glued back together and assumed we had done this. We had a good laugh admitting our deceit.

Cute and funny stories are fine, but is there a point. Yes. Each story reminds me of who I have become. Each experience has taught me something useful about myself. You could make 2021 a year to consciously celebrate your past and welcome any new experiences that show up. You deserve this personal upgrade.