After being invited to a military retirement ceremony where the retiree talked about the defining moments in his career that shaped his life, I thought it would be interesting to ask other people about their defining moments. Many of these will be very personal, some of them will mean nothing to anyone but the person who is writing about them but for all of us, we understand the idea. There are moments in our life that shape us and change us forever.
Defining Moments by J.R. Murdock
Life is filled with many things that will change a person forever. Many are things that a great number of people will experience. Yes, these things will change your life, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Marriage (or finding a partner to spend your life with), getting a degree or two or three, children, burying one or both of your parents. It’s the course that life takes. For me, the biggest life-changing events were in moving.
There are other things that also change your life forever that may never happen to another person. Possibly a course of events that put you into a position to make that life changing event.
At thirteen I was living in a very small town. I had no prospect of a better life. Things were what they were. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I hated physical labor, but living with my mother and step-dad in the back woods of Minnesota, you did physical labor. Mowing lawns for spending money. Shoveling driveways. Raking leaves. Cutting wood. Helping neighbors. Going to a worksite to help shovel gravel, sand, cement, or carry roofing material. Never a shortage of things to do.
Then my mother left my step-father. Life took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My father, a man I’d only spoken to on the phone a handful of times over the years and gone to visit twice, wanted my brother and I to move and live with him.
The jump was made and we moved from the little town of McGregor, Minnesota to Durango, Colorado. Life was easier. Still, there was no shortage of things to do. The winters were a little lighter, but there was still snow to shovel and grass to cut. Fewer trees meant no leaves to rake.
After only a couple of years, my father decided to move back to Minnesota. My senior year in high school was in an even bigger city, Minneapolis. I liked the big city and I loved the house we had moved into. I didn’t like the cold and I hated the snow. I needed a change.
When I was eighteen, I joined the Navy. Sure, millions of men and women have joined the military. For me it was a chance to get away from the life I’d always known. I had dozens of reasons to join, but mostly it was to get away from home. To become my own man. To do my own thing. I moved from coast to coast while in the Navy. I lived in Orlando, Florida, Pensacola, Florida, Lakehurst, New Jersey, Seal Beach, California, Long Beach, California, back to Pensacola. In a few years I’d been on beaches from the Atlantic, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the pacific, and back again. Each time I drove across the country, stopping and seeing everything I could see. Before I was twenty-two, I’d been in over half of the lower forty-eight states.
When I got out of the Navy, I moved back to Durango. When I was in high school, and in the Navy, I played drums and bass. My best friend had lived in California while I was there and he’d moved back to Colorado. I moved there so we could start a band.
Durango isn’t known for its music scene. So we packed up everything we had and moved to San Diego.
At twenty-six, when I finally decided that the band thing was never going to work out, I was fairly confident that I would never marry, and I would never have kids. I had been to the bottom as a starving musician. Being a musician was awesome, but starving really sucked. I needed to reassess and start over.
I got myself back into school. I got a degree. I got a good paying job. Then I got a better paying job. I met my wife. Got married. We had my favorite daughter.
One thing doesn’t seem to have changed, though. We still move from place to place to get ourselves into a better place.
If it hadn’t been for all the moving I’d done throughout my life, I would be a completely different person. Now, at 45, I’ve lived in 24 different places across six different states. I’ve stayed in hotels in more than a two-dozen different cities and driven through at least 30 states.
For me, change is constant. Many things will never change, but I’ve settled down so many times, that I can call almost anywhere home. Yes, growing roots for many helps define their life. For me, it’s all that moving and uprooting that’s helped define who I am. Sometimes I think I don’t want to move any more. Then I find myself moving yet again. For me, that’s just a part of life. Something that will probably never change. Sometimes, I hope it won’t. It keeps me guessing just where I’ll lay my head next and when the next adventure I will have.
Despite what you may think, J.R. Murdock did have a normal childhood. If you consider swimming in lakes, playing hide and seek in the woods, and spending more time with his imagination than a television, then yes, it was normal. There are those times when little voices will talk to him inside his head. This was never a frequent occurrence and he learned to ignore them. Most of the time.
His first book was attempted over several years (probably closer to a dozen) and somehow that book about Dungeon and Dragons characters just never really worked out the way he wanted it to. Someday it might! Just you wait and see. Those characters will not stay down. They will have their story told! I’m telling you here and now…
Shhh, calm. Relaxed. Don’t scare away the nice people that have come to this page and might want to buy a book (or three).
Where were we? Oh, yes, the voices inside his head. They like to talk to at inappropriate times. Fortunately they also talk to at appropriate times and that’s when books happen. Yes, the voices must have their story told or they just keep talking over one another and it’s just a big old jumbled mess and nobody will want to read anything like that, right? So it’s good that they get their chance to come out so that you’ll have something to read and enjoy.
When not listening to the voices inside his head, J.R. Murdock spends time with his wife and his favorite daughter (yes, there is only one daughter that’s why she’s his favorite). They reside in sunny San Diego which is about as close to paradise as you can get and still be in a big city.