Understanding the Human Condition

1 Aug

I had to fight my way through a good portion of my childhood.  From age seven to say age thirteen, it was even odds whether I would get through the day unscathed or not.  I was a runt when I was young.  I was shy and goofy. And I was raised by a father who taught me never to back down from bullies.

That’s just the way it was back then in the 50’s and early 60’s.

I laugh about it now.  I went to a Catholic grade school, and we had to wear these uniforms of salt-and-pepper slacks, a white buttoned shirt, and a green buttoned sweater.  We might as well have had a target on us, or a large sign that said “I’m Catholic; feel free to kick the shit out of me.”

Seriously!  Remember when Kennedy ran for President in 1960, his Catholicism was a big deal back then.  Being a Catholic was no walk in the park for a young kid in the 50’s, and I happened to live in a Protestant neighborhood, so if I wasn’t fighting because I was small and shy, I was fighting because someone didn’t like my association with the Pope.

So a good many of my evenings were spent putting Band Aids on various cuts and scrapes, and explaining to my dad that I handed out as much punishment as I had received.

That’s just the way it was!

Now two things could have happened because of those early years of bullying and nursing wounds: I could have become bitter, and a bully myself; or I could have grown to have an increased empathy and awareness of those who suffer at the hands of others.

Thanks also to the teachings of my father, I went the second route.  I was taught never to back down from a fight, but never pick one as well.  Defend yourself and never take advantage of someone weaker than you . . . and above all, be aware that there are those out there who are having a hell of a time just getting through any given day.

This stuff is important for writers.  If you write fiction, as I do, understanding the human condition and psyche will help us to create characters who are believable and relatable.  Understanding emotions will help us to connect with our readers.

That’s just the way it is!

Have a great day being a writer! We are the chosen few!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

28 Responses to “Understanding the Human Condition”

  1. Janine Huldie August 1, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    Loved this walk down memory lane and I agree that using your past upbringing when writing fiction does help and make a world of difference. Thanks for the reminder and have a wonderful Tuesday once again now!! 🙂

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      Thanks Janine! Heatwave about to hit us….we are going to see temps we never see the rest of the week.

  2. froggy213 August 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    Words of wisdom. Just keep fighting forward. Thanks Bill.

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

      Always forward, Greg! Never give back ground won. 🙂 Thanks buddy!

  3. Linda Lum August 1, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Bill, I think that is one of the things that makes your writing so believable. Your characters have honest emotions; they think and act like “real” people. You have a gift of observation that many of us lack. I went to a Protestant school at the same time that you were a little Catholic boy–thank goodness we didn’t have to wear uniforms (because I was certainly the runt of the litter). Again, your dad was a wise man and you learned well from him.

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

      Thank you for those kind words, Linda. I never had a date, so I had lots of time to observe people. 🙂

  4. zoarlutheranchurch August 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    I was also the skinny Catholic school boy, but our South Tacoma neighborhood was pretty laid back. The only two fights I remember happened in 4th grade at Visitation and as a freshman at Bellarmine. Where was your neighborhood?

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      Hey, John, thanks for reading.I grew up on North 18th near the Proctor District….mostly Jefferson Grade School and Mason Middle School kids around there.

    • John Manley August 1, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

      Above comment is from John Manley via an old account (whose name has now been changed)

  5. Sageleaf August 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

    So interesting how you dealt with all that. I was horribly bullied in middle school – at Catholic school! I got really “holy” when the other kids were just being normal, hormonal middle schoolers. I desperately wanted to stay out of trouble.
    I was so sensitive about it that I would go home crying every day. Until one day my mom said, “enough of this. You have to figure out what you’re going to do about it, or you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life if you keep letting people get to you.”
    So…I didn’t really stand up to the bullies – it’s not in my nature to be confrontational and because they usually came in the form of passed around notes, snyde remarks, or spitwads in my hair. I never knew who they were, but it was most of the people in my class.
    I eventually came to the following conclusion: most people just want to belong and they will do things they might not because they want to fit in. Since I didn’t fit in, they were going to do what they were going to do, I was who I was and if I didn’t accept myself as who I was, then I would never move forward. I was an unusual kid: living in a nursing home, adopted, introverted and my mom had just adopted a special needs kid. Plus, I had a lazy eye. There was no hope for me to be “normal” (and what is that, anyways?).
    Funny thing is, once I defiantly accepted myself, people really started leaving me alone. It was like I gained a new respect after that. I didn’t have to stand up to them like I picture someone might in the movies. But they sure respected me after that. They even gave me the designation, “The Future First Woman Pope” in the 8th grade yearbook. I don’t keep in touch with many folks from middle school or high school, but that was where I learned that I could stand on my own two feet and be proud of who I was. 🙂 Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Big Bro.

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

      I love it, Lil Sis…future first woman pope!…that’s a great title. Thanks for sharing all that with us. My dad only had one way through a problem like bullies, and that was to fight. It’s just the way it was in our family, you did not back down from a problem, and you never allowed someone to treat you with disrespect.

      Hugs! I love your solution to the problem.

  6. Sarah Potter Writes August 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

    I know that some kids pretend to go along with the bullies to prevent being bullied themselves. You obviously had real strength of character as a kid, to stay being you, stick up for yourself, but never pick a fight or turn into a bully yourself.

    My son had to wear short trousers to his first school, and for one term (after we moved house when he was 10), walk past a secondary school every day and ignore the taunts of the bigger kids. He was the spitting image of Harry Potter, looks-wise too!

    School was not my favourite thing, although I never attended one where there was any bullying. So from that point of view I was very lucky.

    Your father taught you all the right things, Bill. And I think you understand emotions very well, as evidenced in your writing.

    You’ve got a heatwave? We’re sunny today, but with a background cool that’s more like September. It’s perfect, apart from an apple nearly hitting me on the head when it fell off the tree whilst I was eating my lunch outside!

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

      Thank you for the share, Sarah! Yes, a heatwave. We may set the all-time record on Thursday if it hits 105 like predicted. We will all melt on that day for sure.

      Be on the lookout for falling apples, my friend. 🙂

  7. 1authorcygnetbrown August 1, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    I can relate not because we were Catholic, but because my family was poorer than most of the other kids my age that I lived near. My youngest brother got into fights because he didn’t take getting made fun of as well some of the other members of the family.

    • Billybuc August 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

      Yep, Donna, I can see how that would lead to a few cuts and bruises. I would have liked your brother. 🙂

  8. Manatita August 1, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    I like how you connect it to writing. Cool!

  9. phoenix2327 August 2, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    I have to say, Bill, I’m a surprised being Catholic was an issue back then. I grew up in a neighbourhood with a bunch of Puerto Ricans who were Catholic so it wasn’t a thing. There was a Pentecostal church across the street from us and, while we thought they were a bit weird, it wasn’t a problem. Interesting.

    Ah, the human condition. Times change but people don’t. They may handle situations differently now, but deep down, the feelings are still the same. Take care, Bill. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow in the 105 heat while it continues to rain here. I actually have mushrooms growing in my lawn.

    • Billybuc August 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

      It was a strange dynamic, Zulma! I remember that election being quite contentious is our neighborhood….some very bitter feelings over the Catholic issue.

      Hot one today….just get through today!

  10. rollyachabotbooks August 2, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi Bill:
    Reading of your life has been fascinating. It is almost like reading my own story as a child.

    Like you I had a father who was very compassionate and loving in his special way. Like your father mine was the same in his wisdom.

    Great reading Bill… well done as I needed the reminder this morning.

    Hugs from Alberta

    • Billybuc August 3, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

      Old-school wisdom, Rolly! No degree in philosophy, but profound nonetheless.

      Thanks my friend. Hugs from smoky and hot Olympia.

  11. Michael Milec August 3, 2017 at 2:46 am #

    Oh my friend, that of your demonstrative pervasiveness through the earlier years upholds my closer understanding of how Bill and Michael can cohere as friends / brothers in area of absorption into higher power.

    • Billybuc August 3, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

      All true, Michael my friend. You gifted me with a smile this morning and for that I thank you.

  12. MartieCoetser August 4, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    How and why parents allow their child to be a bully, boggles my mind. Surely, they must recognize the symptoms in the privacy of their home.

    Imagine if all parents teach their children those beautiful principles that were taught to you and me and so many others?

    Thought-provoking post, thank you billybuc!

    • Billybuc August 5, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

      It does mine as well, Martie! My only conclusion is that the parents must be bullies as well, and isn’t that a sad conclusion?

      Thank you, as always, my friend.

  13. Mike August 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    Hello Bill – Sounds like you had a tough go of it. I was such a skinny kid. One summer it seems all the boys in the neighborhood went from 110 to 140, a growth spurt. They were probably 14 or so. I did not weigh 140 until the Army got ahold of me. That was much to late to prevent the bullying.

    Experience does make for better writing.

    • Billybuc August 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

      Experience does for sure, my friend. Fight or flight, and there was really only one option for me. 🙂

  14. Dee August 13, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

    You gave me a good chuckle today reading about your “targeted” school attire. Your father’s advice is good for today’s generation. Have a great week, Bill.

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