Dr. Morris Massey describes the times in our lives that had an impact on who we became. He has published a series of materials on You are What You Were When. Massey calls certain periods in a child’s life as “self-programming periods” during which young people develop their values systems. He lists three periods:
- The Imprint Period, which occurs from birth until age 7
- The Modelling Period which occurs from age 8 until 13; and
- The Socializing Period from ages 14 to 21.
One of the seminal times in my life revolved around a very short time during which my family lived on a large ranch in Eastern Oregon. It is the ranch that author William Kittredge wrote about in Owning it All. In fact Kittredge’s family lived in the house next to ours. I was in first and second grade, falling at the transition between Imprint and Modeling in Massey’s scheme of things. In many ways the ranch was an echo of the late 1800’s with cowboys taking the cattle out on the vast range, the open untamed nature of the land, and, to a seven-year-old the definition of beauty.
I have put a short story titled Mother’s Day in the page devoted to sample short stories here in the blog. It is somewhat dark, but reflects the setting and some of the innate savagery that existed in the ranch environment of the times. The story is from a collection inspired by my memories from those short years and will eventually be compiled with the tentative title – what else – You Are What Your Were When.
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