Where I came from
Please understand that while writing this I have had years of tears swelling up in
my eyes. In the simple act of compiling rough notes to guide me through what I know
will be a long hard process, I have reached deep enough in my soul to unlock the gates
of hidden pain and sadness. I suppose I never did cry when my sister died...
I remember my father, I being by his side and tugging on his blue jeans, he had the
strength of an ox and in my eyes, could move mountains, but that day the ox was broken
and the mountain crumbled.
Looking back, I was probably in his way more then by his side, but nonetheless I
thought I was helping dig a pool in our backyard that summer. Our home sat on a large
area of land with a beautiful view of ‘A’ mountain on what is now considered the “hispanic”
center of Tucson, Arizona. The land was home to us and as a child I explored
every inch of it. I had many hiding places and built forts under trees that my mother
didn’t even know we had. It was hot, so hot my cowboy boots burned the top of my
feet as I conquered the desert. Of course, it is always hot in Arizona during the summer,
which is when my father always wanted to work outside, somewhat crazy, I know,
but the Arizona sun can do that to a man.
“Three foot deep and ten foot around,” he said with sweat already dripping off the
tip of his sun-stained nose, and we had only been outside long enough to gather the
tools to start digging.
He might as well had said one hundred feet deep because it sounded to me like
we would hit China, which would have been cool too, but I would much rather have a
pool. After a few scolchering hot Saturdays, it was ready and the excitement was at its
max. We all waited while he double checked the water lines. Then, all of a sudden, the
blast of water came shooting out the pipes on the walls of the pool like a dam had just
Yes, pipes, rustic steal from a construction yard, unused and just perfect to appear
smiles on our faces. No, this was no ordinary pool like at the parks or recreation centers
or even your friends house that lived in the Foothills, this pool was made just the
size of a cow’s trough with rough cement, uncolored, that blistered your toes after a
Saturday swim. When you’re a kid, a cow’s trough is just as good even if the cows are
licking your toes. You must understand that my family came from simple means, my
father was a carpenter and mother stayed home to raise us kids. So when the work got
slow, we tightened our belts and went without. A child doesn’t need things to be happy,
I remember that while the pool was filling up we would run in circles creating a whirlpool
that once we got going fast enough, we could simply float around the pool forever. This was only plausible as the trough pool was only ten feet around and three feet deep. I
remember how happy we all were in the back yard in our pool, laughing and enjoying
everything together. How wonderful life was for me...
My father yelled, not a yell I had ever heard before but one that shook me to the
core and I immediately started to cry not knowing why. Almost running me over, he
leapt over the broken flower pot as he rounded the corner out our door and to our backyard
where the diminished laughters of yesterdays enjoyment had vanished. I ran as
fast as I could after him, but I was already far behind.
When I got to the gate I saw my dad pulling my younger sister, Wendy, out of the
once happy rustic pool. At six years old I was young, but I knew that something terrible
had happened I knew she was not okay as everything around her started to frown.
Maybe from Bambi, Old Yeller, or my great grandmother dying, I knew she was gone. I
My father was crying so loud that he couldn’t speak and he was shaking as he sat
holding Wendy limp in his arms. I was carried away by someone of no importance as
the only thing important was my baby sister, by then everything was a blur, but as we
were leaving, I saw the fire red engines of the trucks and the policemen running in the
rhythm of a heartbeat to our backyard. I knew that I didn’t understand. I was scared for
I never really cried when we buried her and it’s strange but I really can’t even remember
the funeral. I used to wonder if it was normal for a kid at my age to cry or to
even understand what happened. Later that same year my older sister, Charlotte, left
me during the day and started school, so I was home alone with mom. The pink, orange,
and yellow flowers my mother always planted, now had browned, and the garden
she loved soon became a reminder to her of how happy she once was. Most days I remember
just trying to keep her from crying too much. I just wanted things to be as they
were before with us all laughing and happy with or without the trough pool, which was
now filled with sand and tears. But as time passed, I spent more and more time figuring
out how not to feel pain and mask my sadness with jokes. I did this by watching performers
and comedians make people laugh and I wanted to do the same.
That became my job: to make people laugh and smile. Being fully aware of it, gave
me purpose and a focus. Thus the entertainer was born. I can remember quoting funny
lines from movies and comedians every night before bed, and I couldn’t wait to get up in
the morning and make them all laugh and smile. And that is just what I would do. I enjoyed
the challenge and still enjoy this challenge, yet still feel that when people depend
on you for such a huge thing like happiness it puts a stress on you to become great.
These years changed me. I learned to juggle, tell jokes, and entertain.
Now when I am with my wife and son I am so happy and understand more than
ever my path in this life. I understand it is not mine to choose, but destiny’s. I was produced
not by my hand but due to many things I know not. Who knows where I will be in
thirty more years, but I still need my audience and their laughs to feel love. I really love
each crowd that gives this to me.
My little sister was taken from me and in return I was given a gift that my family
needed to survive. The gift and passion anchored in my mind that in order to become
happy, I must give to others. My father said the other day while my family and I were visiting,
“Tears are sure hard to drop when Rodney is around.” My father is a man of little words, therefore, that was a great compliment to me, but somewhat troubling because
for the past few years I have had horrible painful dry eyes. This life is hard and it gets
harder as we get older and wiser. I am just glad that I have a wonderful family that
loves me and helps me as I learn how to better love them. I know now my path is to
make people smile and laugh: noble, I think, as any. So get ready, sad people here
comes some optimystical relief. If you don’t think it’s optimistic, than it must be mystical.
Either way, I hope you are inspired by the magic and the magic of optimism.
I am now married with a handsome one-year-old son. I have been lucky to travel
and be asked to perform magic and comedy for hundreds of audiences every year. I
live now in Southern Arizona where both my grandparents lived and my wife and I both
have family that we are truly blessed to be near. I have been a student of happiness and
mastery of great inspiration. I have studied what makes great people great and what
keeps others from not enjoying the life they are meant to enjoy. Imagine knowing that
someone is great although they cannot see it themselves. This is my challenge; to
open the doors that have been shut, to create new rooms in your mind, and to fill those
rooms with your dreams and goals.
Once we find the door, we can pick the lock and
enter any room you wish. You must only know and it will be opened. I remember the
moment when I realized that I would spend the rest of my life challenging others and
helping them overcome all negativity.
I sit here trying to put my finger on the day, the moment when I realized my purpose
in life. I simply know now and understand that this is my life and I can create
whatever I want from it. I know it like knowing I am right-handed or that my name is
Rodney. It could have been the time after a performance when a young boy about 8
years old approached me with a parent on his arm. The boy seemed shy, holding his
father’s hand, clutched tightly as he looked down at my poster. “I really enjoyed the
magic, today I saw everything so clearly, nothing is impossible.” I smiled and thanked
him for the compliment knowing that I used that phrase, “nothing is impossible” many
times during my show, a theme possibly, of sorts. Then, without ever looking up he
shook my hand and turned away. His smile was from ear to ear and his parents both
had tears running down their faces. The father walked away with his son, while the
mother gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, so as not to let her son hear, “he is
blind.” My heart fell into my stomach and I was speechless, probably for the first time in
Every time I prepare to speak or perform, I think of that young man and imagine
him sitting in my audience without seeing eyes. I can only imagine what is was like to
hear feathers flapping as doves appeared followed by gasps and applause from the
audience and whisperings of the children next to him telling their parents what they saw.
I would only hope to give that hope and belief to everyone whom I come in contact with.
The belief that nothing is impossible. This is a real challenge because unlike the blind
boy, most of us believe only what we can see with our eyes. My mentor used to say as
he gestured and looked around whichever space or room we happened to be in, “This,
what you see around here, this is not real. Nothing you see is real.” I often wonder
about that and contemplate that even this book or my words are not real, although I feel
the effect they have on those who apply them and that is real.