My Humble Beginnings

The greatest things start with humble beginnings. That’s what Kris said anyway. I’d only known him a few hours. Jay introduced us moments before I got into his truck in Denver to finish the journey westward. We were halfway through Colorado – Jay, Kris, and I – when we passed where the Colorado River was but a stream as the Rockies reached for the sky around us. Jay remarked how tiny it seemed in contrast to its width through the Grand Canyon. Then Kris had the epiphany that has stuck with me for the last several days, as I crossed into my twenty-fifth state this year. The greatest things start with humble beginnings.
I was raised in a barn. Is that humble enough?
When I was about five, my parents bought some land in the sticks about fifteen miles outside of Sarasota. We started with five acres and eventually grew into eleven that backed into hundreds of acres of wilderness and pastureland for the Hi Hat Cattle Company. Great place to be a kid. Lousy place to be a teenager.
Anyway, my parents’ hope was to build a structure that we would temporarily use as a residence until we eventually built their dream home; at which time, the original structure would be used as a barn. The first few years my brother Brian and I shared what would become the loft, sleeping on beds that would be replaced by bails of hay. As time wore on and we became more comfortable in the house and less comfortable sharing the space, my parents sacrificed the vaulted ceiling in their bedroom, giving us each our own rooms. The ceilings reached about twelve feet at the highest point and three at the lowest under the steep pitched roof. It’s a wonder we’re not both hunchbacked. These renovations continued on in the barn until a rec room and a wraparound porch later, my parents found that they were already living in their dream house and just decided to go ahead and build a real barn.
I always liked having an excuse for leaving doors open.
“Close the damn door! Were you raised in a barn or something?”
“Well, actually…”
So that was my humble beginning. I’m still waiting on the greatness.

This is an excerpt of The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Buy your copy of the eBook on


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