Steven Mark Revland

artist - musician - craftsman

award-winning designer

and furniture maker

[March 21, 2021]

solitude | the early years

I closed last week's chapter by stating we would discuss the choices I made as a child . . . specifically the solitude, seclusion, and isolation that I experienced.

  • How does a small child make decisions like this on his own?
  • Why is he choosing to spend most of his free time alone, creating projects in his backyard without friends?
  • Or without family, for that matter?

my first 2 years of school

My first 2 years of school I got straight As, only because my older sisters took me under their tutelage, starting at age 3, and quizzed me often, utilizing flash cards with addition and multiplication tables, and holding home spelling bees, preparing me for kindergarten and beyond. I vaguely recall really enjoying these sessions and, at the same time, wondered if they had something better to do, being 10 and 12 years older. They were such a blessing, and still are at the ages of 79 and 81, respectively. I will withhold their names from this post, because they are still under the witness protection program.

by the 2nd grade

By the 2nd grade, reality kicked in and whatever I had memorized early on was now becoming obsolete, as new material to advance needed to be absorbed through study and reading. I could read just fine, but nothing would soak in, unfortunately. [Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am nearing 68 years of age and still haven’t read a book.] My sisters had no idea that my future educational survival would become a victim to ADHD, something discovered in the early 1900s and was treated through the use of stimulants. I don’t recall ever being prescribed medication by my parents, as I’m sure the notion of giving me a stimulant was pretty laughable, if not sad at the same time, being as squirrelly as I was.

by the 3rd grade

By the 3rd grade (and you might want to move your children to a different room), I started to develop facial ticks, or what our family doctor called a mild case of Tourette Syndrome. The anxiety to perform like the other kids was getting the best of me. One tick led to another. Head shaking, neck stretching, eyes blinking, and soon after, owl-like noises spewing out of my mouth. Classmates were merciless, and who could blame them? They thought I was a freak. And so did I. As long as I was in school, or other social situations, I could not control myself. Hence: Hooky and seclusion was my only solution . . . as when I was alone, the ticks would subside.

I recall seeing country-western singer Mel Tillis on The Ed Sullivan Show in the early sixties, and remember being inspired by him. He stuttered unmercifully while being interviewed but, when he performed, the stuttering stopped. I was amazed. This was me. When I was in my element, normalcy returned. Unfortunately, normalcy required isolation, as I was becoming an embarrassment to my family as well. I constantly sought out seclusion . . . just so I could relax. Tourette Syndrome was exhausting and, unfortunately, this affliction continued until my freshman year in high school, which meant few friends and zero girlfriends along the way . . . something I guess I made up for later on. (Talk amongst yourselves.)

eventually . . .

Eventually, I discovered that the only way to rid myself of this affliction, and to get beyond it, was to abandon all stressors in my life. Which meant any form of schooling, which eventually led to a D-minus grade point average, which led me to believe how generous my instructors actually were. How I ever received a signed diploma was beyond me, and we’ll probably discuss that a few months from now, as I have a few other stories to tell.

moving on . . .

(. . . and the children can re-enter the room again.) I thought it best to get this story out of the way and in the books because, as horrific as it sounds, everything derived from it profoundly helped shape my future and set me on a path to success. That being said, let’s get on with stories that might make us smile and perhaps even inspire. Next week: “Party Line” 1962.

Stay tuned.