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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Reflections on Life Changing Moments

Joe Dunne

This month I will have a birthday. I never gave much thought to birthdays, but for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about my life’s turning points. I have come to the conclusion that my life is and has been so very interesting. I just love living. So, here is a collection of my random reflective moments.

        Growing up in Brooklyn in the 50s, I hung out in candy stores, listened to juke boxes, ate 25 cent slices of pizza, and gathered in packs of 25 or 30 friends on street corners. Violence just happened, with or without warning. Everything was territorial. Streets marked territories and nationalities. I never really fit, but I have to say, I wouldn’t trade my street education for a masters from Harvard.

        We moved to an isolated bungalow community in Breezy Point, Queens, NY. Barely 100 families lived there. I had no transportation, so I hitchhiked to high school every day, many miles away. Today my parents would be arrested for allowing that; back then it was normal and we thought nothing of it.

        A turning point came when I walked away from college and joined the service. I was 17. I had never been out of Brooklyn, and then found myself in Texas. What a culture shock! People didn’t understand what the hell I was saying—I was talking Brooklyn. And I didn’t understand Texans talking Texas.

        When I was shipped out to Taipei, Taiwan, I arrived as a kid in a man’s world. What I learned in those two years shaped my life. I started to see the world, understand differences, and know there is more than just Brooklyn. After my discharge, with nothing more that a speck of knowledge about marriage, I married. Back then it was almost expected, and everyone encouraged you to find a secure job, get married, and have some children. By 23, I was the father of two, and looking back, completely clueless.

        Naturally life changed with divorce, which was inevitable. Chaos followed, and I spent much time confused. I couldn’t figure out life, so I just wandered without purpose. When I lost my parents, the world seemed empty. I was particularly affected by my dad’s passing. I felt alone. The loss of the safety blanket of love and security of having him in my life left a giant void. This was another turning point, which is still shaping my life today. Who we become and where we are going is unknown, but the experiences and memories are ours to keep.

        There were other stepping stones of change, people who entered and passed through my life that made for interesting moments. Some good, some bad, and some really ugly (not the people, but the situations I encountered).

        Every life changing experience has been an adventure—being broke, having children, moving, re-marrying, and now my present wife, Asta, who in so many ways has shown me what a person with a pure spirit of love is really like.

        Speaking of turning points, buying Natural Awakenings has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. So far. I’m not planning on going anywhere, but you know what they say, man plans, God laughs. That’s why I believe today that every moment is a precious moment. A heart attack taught me that many years ago. And I still wear my “life is good” shirt to celebrate.

        Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. I thank you for reading Natural Awakenings.


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