In the pre-Internet days of my childhood, I pulled my red wagon each morning to the Alger, Ohio, post office to fill it with that day's bounty from all over the world (it wasn't “junk mail” to me!). I wanted to connect with the larger world I knew existed beyond my small farming community (population 1,000) in Northwest Ohio.

Everything there [in the cornfields behind our home], was as it ought to be (or so it seemed to me). Such happiness looking back--those long, leisurely walks with my doggy Brownie. Many of the best insights I ever received and carry with me to this day occurred in that one cornfield that led from the back edge of our property to the cemetary at the top of the hill.

I often felt the breezes that swept across its landscape carried information that originated who knows where? “The sun communicates with our planet by the pounding of the solar wind on the magnetic field of the planet,” Itzhak Bentov wrote in Stalking the Wild Pendulum. “The vibration of the MagnetoPause is eventually converted to changes in weather patterns. Communications with other planets occurs through the polar regions.”

What was happening at the Bank of Nova Scotia (I received its monthly newsletter for over ten years until I left home for college in California) was, it seemed to me, connected to the Milky Way, was connected to the Adventures of Superman that I hurried home to watch after school, was connected to taking care of my doggy Brownie.

My red wagon was usually filled every day with treasures deposited in a special box the post office gave me, a box that would hold the volume of mail I received from all corners of the globe. From my daily mail haul I learned about a world beyond Alger’s cornfields.

I mailed away coupons for nearly every free offer I read about that interested me and received back a wealth of replies. The post office in Alger even hired a part-time worker to process my daily mail (postcards were three cents then).

The quirky thing was that EVERYTHING, to me, seemed linked in some intangible way to everything else, except for the people who lived in my town. We had neighbors but even then we hardly spoke or knew one another. Most kept their business and family secrets to themselves--which created a flourishing trade in gossip.

The land, the sky, the clouds, my garden, the flowers, Brownie, everything, however, seemed related like family members.

Why did I reach out as I did to a world that stretched beyond the confines of my community of less than 1,000 people? I felt alone in my ten-year-old world except for the friendship of my traveling companion Brownie who accompanied me everywhere. Such an adventurous friend she became--always eager for a walk.

My parents, both factory workers all their lives, moved North to get away from childhoods as migrant workers in one of the most poverty and depressed areas of Tennessee and Kentucky. Neither had gone past the third grade and were glad to finally be making a decent living.

The winter night that dad and married just before World War II, they had seven dollars with which to begin a life together. Both returned to their factory jobs the next day. They stood to lose their jobs if they didn’t report back for the day shift. I’m not sure they ever had a honeymoon. That’s how things were for many people during the depression years in this country.

Born five years after their marriage, my emerging curiosity sparked anger in my dad. Curious about everything, I read much of the time, often under the covers into the early morning hours [9pm I was supposed to be in bed with the lights off] with a flashlight in one hand and a book in the other. The only life dad could envision for me was the factory. I had other ideas and we clashed often. I loved the cornfields. There I was at peace, away from the conflicts at home.

Those hours and days walking with across Bub Berry’s cornfield were, I will admit, some of the happiest, timeless moments of my life. Even now I fondly look back and remember how great it was to think my own thoughts while playing ball with Brownie, especially in the fall after the cornfields had been harvested, the days nippy and the tang of autumn in the air.

Those were glorious pre-internet days I remember them fondly.

There was little else for the kids to do in our town except work part-time at Pete Adams’ tomato cannery, play for the Alger Eagles basketball team, become a cheerleader, or on weekends drive to bigger towns and look for girls from other schools who were out cruising and looking for guys,or drink beer which they purchased illegally (you couldn’t buy alcoholic beverages in Alger) or--if that wasn’t the lifestyle you wanted, stay home, read, walk the cornfields or railroad tracks, and, for lack of a better term, go on the Innernet, try to make something of yourself, and hope that one day your dreams of going away for “bigger and better” opportunities would be possible.

I chose the latter.

Over the years I clipped hundreds of ads from the back of comic books. Postcards were three cents in those days. I purchased a book called A Thousand and One Things You Can Get Free. I wrote away for about two-thirds of its listings.

During these pre-Internet days, snail mail was my way reaching beyond the confines of my small farming community. My late afternoon forays across Bub Berry’s cornfield, alone with my thoughts, was how I signed into my Innernet and were a youngster’s attempts to bring together and unifity his inner and outer worlds.

“Where is this need to ‘reach out’ as I do coming from?” I wondered. Silence. So, I kept on “reaching out.” Like Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Have faith and pursue the unknown ends.” So, in the absence of an answer to my WHY question, I pursued the unknown ends, which the Innernet I later discovered is much better at dealing with than is our present Internet (no criticism intended). Both play a valuable role in our lives.

How did I find the money to pay for such extravagances as sending out fifty to one hundred post cards each morning before school started?

A dollar a week allowance for chores at home. Collecting discarded pop bottles from alleys downtown and redeeming each for two cents at Pete Adams’ Grocery Story. Selling TV Guide (which was fifteen cents then) and pocketing my four cents commission from each sale. Delivering two newspapers: The Lima News, Columbus Dispatch, and selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door.

Early on I had a brainstorm. Some day (when I was older) I’d would write a book about how, even from Alger, I was connected to people on the other side of the globe--indivisibly connected in a ways I knew were true but way beyond my ability to grasp. I knew our fates and fortunes were somehow linked but didn’t understand how or why.

I instinctively felt that my life in Alger (and everybody else’s around the world) was important to the earth. That we mattered. We were here at this juncture of history because we were meant to be. Our planet needed the best each of have to give each other in ways I didn’t fully grasp but sought to.

The worst behaviors of people and nations (The U.S. and Russia, for example, were conducting atmospheric tests of atomic and nuclear bombs) was also, I believed in my ten-year-old mind, felt and sensed by everyone around the globe even if that knowing wasn’t conscious. Somehow poverty, hunger, homelessness affected me, everyone for that matter, even if we didn’t know who was hungry or homeless or where pockets of poverty exsited unless our local TV news broadcast happened to feature one of those pockets.

Back then, however, I intuitively sensed that my being alive, and other people’s being alive, was useful and even desirable to the planet even if I never met or got to know those people on the other side of the world whose lives were invisibly tied to my little comings and goings in Alger.

One day, walking with Browning to the cemetary at the top of the hill, I had such a conviction that everything I thought, said, or did (as unimportant or trivial as it might be to others) was, in a way, like writing my own signature in the wind. No telling how far that handwriting might travel or who it might reach. Perhaps I might even telepathically hear back from that person, their inner thoughts carried on the wind to my small corner of the globe. Who knows? Sounded pretty neat to me. “Is it possible?” I wondered. This notion, probable or not, really excited me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The universe if full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” All the things I hoped to do, to accomplish with my life during the years ahead were going to get done, I believed, because there were people who alive at the same time I was who would help me achieve them. These people I was yet to meet would open doors for me just as I would grow up and open doors for others. Maybe I’d be rich, successful, and able to give away a lot of money.

Life had a few surprises up its sleeve and for many years it looked like I’d never be able to give away any money. I still, however, believe this is an issue my Innernet began addressing years ago and how the answer will come is the unknown that is yet to be.

We have to send the right keywords to our Innernet search engine, keywords that optimize our search for what we, at a cellular and tissue level of our being, truly want and desire from life--as well as what we would like to give. As for your multidimensional search engine ranking, this is an instance where you and you alone create the algorithms that determine the ultimate ranking you see when you sign on, enter your search terms.

Then, while our search progresses and all sources of information accessed, our part is not to become exasperated by how long it is taking for our search results to be displayed on the screen of our outer life; relax and continue to have faith and confidence in your future, knowing that you will be taken care of, that you are SECURE.

The key, I suspect, to retrieving so much of what you want from life is learning to become a search engine optimization specialist when it comes to your own life! Ways to do this follow in part 2:

Lessons I Learned From Search Terms and Search Engines (How to Optimize Our Lives)

Author's Bio: 

James spent many years in Texas as a TV news broadcaster. He's also taught TV news, writing, and speech communication at three universities. More information can be found at