Not Kicking, Not Screaming.

Ashton Cartwright Awesome Hair

I turned 30 today. Whether or not I would make it this long was not always clear, which makes me particularly thankful.

Most people come into this world kicking and screaming. This is the natural way of things, and is generally considered a good sign for the health of a child. I, (being someone who is more inclined to go my own way) did not. I came into this world silent, slightly blue, and not breathing.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the metrics associated with childbirth, there is a test called the APGAR Score, which is a measurement of the overall health of a newborn. The test gives a 0, 1 or 2 ranking for Appearance (skin color), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflex irritability), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration, with the combined score totalling a maximum of 10. Scores 7 and above are considered normal, 4 to 6 is fairly low, and 3 and below are generally regarded as critically low.

I got a 2. . .

. . . which is un-surprisingly considered a bad start.

Combined with this critically low score, I also had an odd variety of physical defects, the most notable being a webbed neck, webbed fingers, swollen and bulbous feet (called lymphedema, which is caused by a failure of the lymphatic system), and ribs that were concaved on my right side.

Since the webbed fingers combined with lymphedema is common in children with metal retardation, the doctor also advised my parents that I was retarded. (my mother still maintains, in what she feels are her more amusing moments, that this aspect of the diagnosis seemed to have been correct).

Through what I can only assume was careful medical monitoring, mixed with a significant quantity of good luck, my health improved, and my mental retardation never seems to have kicked in.

Though I didn’t come into this world kicking and screaming, I have intuitively known that I should make up for that negligence later in life, and have made it a point to kick and scream every step of the way since then. I have been raised in such a way that I am disinclined to sit back and watch others do things, but am instead compelled to throw myself headfirst into any and all endeavours that take even my passing fancy. (My younger brother is just the same in this regard)

If I wanted to play basketball as a child, it wasn’t enough to be in a single team, rather I would join every team possible, and play as much as 8 games a week, training, and watching instructional dvd’s, and even reading books on basketball the rest of the time (Andrew Gaze is still a superstar as far as I’m concerned.)

If my brother and I wanted to do something, then by God my parents would make sure we were given the chance! When we went through a rock climbing phase, my parents drove us back and forth to the Climbing Centre in Penrith almost every night of the week, and enrolled us in rock climbing clubs and courses the rest of the time. I had made it through the tough start, and now it was time to try, and do, and learn, and be, and experience, everything that there was in this world!

Being a magician, an actor, a candle maker, a window cleaner, a businessman, a stockbroker, a geologist, a kickboxer, a wrestler, a website designer, a poker player. . . I wanted to throw myself into everything, no holds barred, all-in every hand, kicking and screaming with pure excitement the entire time.

And I was lucky enough to have parents that encouraged me, and that made me believe that I COULD do all these things, and that I SHOULD do all this things and that I WOULD do all these things.

I’ve been living life like that for 30 years, and now I’m having a go at being an author, no holds barred, all-in every hand, kicking and screaming with pure excitement the entire time.

Should be interesting to see how that works out 🙂