Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Posted under America , dysfunctional , happiness , home , homesteader , New England , teacher , writer with
Meet Anthony Caplan~~an independent writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England.
I was around sixteen when I discovered I was not meant to be unhappy. Before that, as a teenager, I had blamed the world for my feelings of dissatisfaction. But I found that I was capable of sometimes doing things right, whether in a classroom, on the sports field, or lending a helping hand to someone hurting worse than me. Slowly, life came into focus, and the dark cloud of depression lifted.
Being an unhappy teenager makes you a deep outsider in America, where if you are not actively pursuing happiness you might as well renounce your citizenship and seek gloomier climes. So, the one big advantage of being an unhappy teenager is it gives you a real understanding of what it's like to be disenfranchised, cut off, and really, truly on your own. This can be the first step to finding a cure to unhappiness, to realize that you are on the side of the underdogs, the come-from-behind dark horses.
What is happiness? For all the many definitions, one constant, whether you prefer a religious, ethical, scientific or economic view, is that a key indicator of happiness is involvement with others - a lack of self-centeredness. But if you've ever been cut off, lonely, an outsider, you know the step from the state of depression to a place of well being leads right over a deep and ugly canyon of self-doubt.
You can get there, but it takes a while. And usually time is in short supply when you're a teenager. The pressure's on to step up to bat, get with the program, begin the sprint of adult success - job, career, marriage, etc. A depressed, lonely teenager needs to buy time. That's often the first step on the road to recovery.
My book Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, is about that moment when a teenager realizes he can make that first step outside of himself. How does he or she get there? What's the process? What does success depend on? These are all questions I tried to answer while telling a compelling and true-to-life story of teenage survival. I chose a character like me, from a dysfunctional, bicultural family, to illustrate the point that every quest for happiness begins with a similar set of personal decisions, whether you're white, black, Latino or Asian, male or female, gay or straight. It takes courage and perseverance and a disregard for conventional opinion to overcome victimization.
Anthony Caplan is an independent writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England. He has worked at various times as a shrimp fisherman, environmental activist, journalist, taxi-driver, builder, window-washer, and telemarketer, (the last for only a month, but one week he did win a four tape set of the greatest hits of George Jones for selling the most copies of Time-Life’s The Loggers.) Currently, Caplan is working on restoring a 150 year old farmstead where he and his family tend sheep and chickens, grow most of their own vegetables, and have started a small apple orchard from scratch His road novels, BIRDMAN and FRENCH POND ROAD, trace the meanderings of one Billy Kagan, a footloose soul striving after sanity and love in the last years of the last century.
His latest fiction effort, LATITUDES – A Story of Coming Home, published June 30, 2012, is a young boy’s transformative journey overcoming dysfunction, dislocation and distance.
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