An Only Child’s Contemplation by V. S. OPalenick

This Author came into this life carrying a burden of obligation. Not to me or anyone in particular, but rather to Life itself.

I don’t think it really matters how privileged, or non-, an individual is. The Only Child, literally and figuratively, carries a certain self-driven loneliness – forever in search of achieving “the dream” – which is ultimately and entirely up to the individual. “One man’s dream is another man’s fancy.” More importantly, is how that dream unfolds and its magnitude on the dreamer and the space the dream is intended to impact.

Before proceeding, let me say, the Only Child is not necessarily a status imposed by birth and lack of siblings. At some point in our lives we all find we have become the Only Child. It might be by birth or from segregating oneself from genetic lineage – whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Or it may be a result of outliving the rest of one’s pod, familial or otherwise. Extensively, it may be a choice to pursue a direction – a calling if you will – which is unfamiliar or unapproved by those closest to us. Suffice it to say, sooner or later, we all become the Only Child. Knowing how to operate in that context is the challenge, especially for those unaccustomed to being without the energy of noise and others’ impositions on them.

Regardless, the time comes when the dubious singular position imposes itself on each of us in some fashion, carrying with it a non-descript and often misunderstood invisible burden of obligation and new responsibilities. Ready or not, it can be a shocking wake-up to discover, try that we might to always fit in, that each of us is very much a unique energy. It may be equally unsettling to find we don’t really know ourselves as well as we thought afterall. How did this discovery happen? Where do we fit in now? As common as these panicked revelations may be, they are not as important or deserve the energy given to answer as one might believe. First, the Author encourages the reader to keep in mind there are as many unique thoughts, concepts, actions, and feelings every second of every minute of everyday as there are inhabitants on the planet. At last count, that was only a bit over seven billion. This is not meant to be particularly comforting, but it is fact and how each of us chooses to process and exhibit these unique qualities is a matter of free will and choice – never without consequence, however. Before it goes completely out of style, please be reminded of the lessons of cause-and-effect. So ye goes – so goes the world. Or, more modernly, what goes around comes around. For this reason, it cannot be emphasized enough that positive thoughts, actions, and considerations must be learned and consistently put forth into the earth’s space. We do not live in a void, although some would contest that, arguing the planet has become a smaller and more conflicted and negative place. While some of that might ring true, each of us can do something about it, and should!

Begin with becoming an Only Child. This is not to say become selfish. This says to become an individual and true to the ebb and flow of your personal energy. Center yourself and meditate on what gives you internal balance, harmony, and happiness. Be aware that there are whirlpools of invisible negativity, noise, and conflict intent on derailing your positive and optimism. Learn to ignore those promptings and make up your mind to honor your soul, understanding that there is nowhere for you to “fit in” because each person on the planet is unique and there is not single type, group, or philosophy that accommodates any of us one-hundred percent, one-hundred percent of the time. Find your bliss. Center yourself. Have confidence that you are an important contributor to history. Be at peace with yourself and you will be surprised how effortlessly you will find comfort and happiness. And the formula for success is confidence that comes from being at peace within oneself.

Happiness is often equated to choice and free will. Overlooked in the pursuit of happiness, however, is the potential to self-serve and selfishness. Anyone may tell you they are doing what makes them happy when they act selfishly. It is this Author’s observation that those individuals tend to not ever BE happy and they continue on a path of selfishness – leaving hurt and heartache in their wake, not only for others but also for themselves. He who acts unselfishly finds happiness sooner and in greater amounts.

It’s not anyone’s compulsion however to make anyone else’s existence happy or not. Happiness, as they say, is a state of mind. Some days that “state” feels like spring break in Daytona and other days it feels like North Dakota in the dead of the worst winter on record. In fact, various situations have affected this Author personally that have required fancy footwork and superior problem-solving. To avoid lengthy explanation of how and why I did what I did, it was simpler to term each passing trauma as just another “plight of the Only Child.” Actually having no siblings, this comment was taken literally rather than figuratively. If nothing else, six decades of retrospect have provided an account that can only be looked back on with humor. Humor, I think, is the only thing a person often has standing between carrying on and jumping off. The proverb, “Laugh long and often,” or near to those words, is very good to keep in the front of one’s memory. Not unusual, a plaque, picture, or sticky-note stating, “LAUGH,” most times serves as good a tonic as most anti-depressants on the market.

Another tool to bridge experiences, calamities, and emotional roller coasters is the belief that there is some purpose and supreme reason why any one of us exists on this earth. It is human nature to need to be needed, create, and be productive, or leave a legacy and mark on the world. Burning questions that have occurred to most of us are: “What is my purpose?” “Why am I here?” and “Will I ever accomplish what I was put here to do?” And in some instances, after the apparent purpose appears to be done, “What happens next?”

Being courageous enough to be oneself often means acting as an Only Child. “Only” in the sense of finding one’s sense of self, purpose, and the motivation to pursue one’s dream or ideal or concept of one’s destiny. And acting as a “Child” in the sense of allowing oneself the naiveté and freedom from predisposed fears to explore, experience, purge, and formulate the best course. Keeping in mind, the best course for one is not necessarily the best for the overall general populous. For example, negative and radical actions originating from preconceived concepts, including those of personal oppression, beliefs, and self-centered benefit are not in keeping in the spirit of this dissertation, which is intended to exemplify positive use of one’s individuality, natural path, and life events. Thoughts and acts which are harmful to the individual and masses are not exercising the positive virtues and responsibilities bestowed on “only-ness” and singularity. Rather, this commentary is a call to acknowledge, awaken, and be encouraged toward individualism for as long as it takes to awaken others and positively impact the particular environment, issue, or participants. The message is meant to convey concepts that may spur one, two, twenty, or two billion to move mountains to gain a clearer vision of the heavens and a bigger picture of what is and what can be.

Masses, organizations, interest groups, movements, and agendas all begin with someone acting as an Only Child. They relay an individual philosophy, idea, or ideal. The Only Child may conceive an idea but not necessarily lead or singularly and overtly act on it. Although there are notorious individuals (Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mao) throughout history who have had global impact during Only Child moments, they have initiated and led from varying positions of visibility. Is it not true some of the most influential happenings in world history have been conceived by one and executed by many to impact the majority. Further, it’s been this Author’s observation that the Only Child’s well-conceived and thoughtful ideal has had longer-lasting impact on generations than selfish ideas and actions imposed and spurred on by minority factions who rise fast, impact significantly, and fall back to earth. There is always someone in the wings to overcome them with the next “big thing” (Isis supplanting Al Qaeda). This is not to discount the impact of radical agendas. Although, it seems the positive, well-intentioned, for the betterment have more staying-power. After the initial presentation and physical impact is over, the spirit of the intent lingers in the minds, hearts, and actions of the masses. At any given time, a resurgence of positive intent and impact can and has happened.

Everyone at some point in their life is subjected to a significant span of time where they are singular. The potency and outcome is an individual choice. This Author encourages embracing this quiet period with introspection and getting to know a very dynamic, creative, and amusing individual. Honor your difference and remember that individuals acting in Only Child capacities expanded technologies, industry, altruism, societies, and the world map as we know it. Also very importantly remember, each of us by virtue of our earthly existence, has a responsibility to no one in particular but Life. It is not important to focus on leaving a legacy as much as it is to living and experiencing Life and helping others find their Only Child to do the same. As complicated as the human race has made the contemporary world and living, it should be of some relief that our only purpose is to positively impact Life. It may be the environment, equality, exploration of new worlds to enhance ours … Very simply, our only obligation while we’re here is to Life. Think and act accordingly. Thank you.

*Valerie relocated to the Puget Sound area in 1979 and currently lives, writes, and creates in Puyallup, WA. She hold (B.S.) Business, (MBA) Engineering/Industrial Project Management, degrees and has is a semi-retired government construction engineer/contract administrator. Val began her technical writing business in 2001 (recently renamed VV Docs & Graphics LLC), since it has expanded to cover ghostwriting, ebooks, continuing education and management texts, short stories, researched articles, and contracts, grants, and proposals. At the same time, Val is a re-emerging visual and literary artist, integrating renderings, photos, and artwork, as well as standard charts, graphs, and slides, into her writings and documents.