“I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. In America in the 60’s, the generation of baby boomers, we had a lot of freedom. There were kids everywhere, and our parents basically didn’t have to manage us too much. It was good growing up there, but it’s flat, a prairie, with not a great deal to see. We used our imaginations, and I always dreamed of water and mountains.
My parents inspired me to be a worker. My Dad was a truck driver and drove all around Fargo. He worked hard, long days and was never afraid of working. Back in those days when we were kids, not many mothers worked out of the home. My mum was one of the early ones that started working. I think it was because my brothers and I were driving her insane. We were three boys and an older sister; she needed to get out of the house; it was not enough to be a housewife and she needed reward outside of the home. They worked and saved and showed us if we wanted something, we had to work to buy it ourselves.
After high school, I was in the air force and had a scholarship to be an engineer, but I didn’t care for the air force, and I didn’t like engineering school. I was honourably discharged, changed universities and went to Norway as an international student for one year, when I was 20 years old. It was one of the happiest times of my life, with lots of interesting young people from around the world. We were only 60 students and all boarders. I learned about farming, even though I didn’t speak any Norwegian at all when I arrived. I am grateful that I was taught the language. I milked cows and looked after chickens and pigs, and I learned that I really didn’t need all the material trappings of my background. I found that my friendships with people were deeper and more important. It was a crossroad in life.
Even though my family background is Norwegian, I didn’t go there to rediscover my family. I went back to the ‘old’ country to learn the language, rediscover the country and its traditions. To this day, I have friends there that are like blood brothers to me, and we try to visit each other from time to time as well as have school reunions every five years. It was a really important time in my life. I was unsettled after returning to the States.
The decision to become a chiropractor came as I was a wrestler at school, and wasn’t very good at that. I would get myself a little bent and twisted, so naturally I needed to be put straight, you might say ‘chiropractically’. I visited a chiropractor when I was 14 and couldn’t straighten up, and my mother asked me, ‘what is wrong with you? You don’t straighten up anymore.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, my back hurts.’ I walked in crooked, walked out straightened, no problem. So, I thought that’s kind of cool, and after a few more years of occasionally attending for treatment‑I wasn’t any better at wrestling and was equally determined but not talented at barefoot water-skiing—I thought, why not learn something like that. So, I did. It was always an interest of mine to find out how to make people better.
Then, I travelled around America, being paid to deliver motor homes, and to look for possible places to practice, but nothing really jumped out at me or made me feel like I could belong there. I thought, if I am not really going to belong there, I might as well go elsewhere. In my hometown, it was mainly minus 10 to minus 30 below in winter, often cool and snowy in spring and autumn, so you basically only had 12 weeks of summer and very windy or humid. I thought, what’s the point of living like this if you can’t be outside. I pondered migrating, but couldn’t go to Norway as at that time, in 1984, they didn’t let foreign practitioners in. So, I thought, where to now, an English-speaking country with a better climate than where I am from. Bing, I thought Australia. It sounded pretty good too. That was in 1984, never looked back; great decision.
I love it here because you can be outside most of the year, even when it’s raining. Initially, I was meant to set up a practice at Port Augusta and chose it because a geography book I had, stated that it was at the Head of the Bight with a Mediterranean climate. I was in. I thought I can handle that! But things changed with my sponsoring employers and we ended up in Glenelg, then Warradale, and not long after I decided to also come to Kangaroo Island. I set up a practice here on the 1st of April 1987.
This year, I have been here for 35 years and still enjoy coming to Kangaroo Island. I might retire in 26 years and eight months; I will be 90 and I will change direction a little then. I don’t understand why people retire from something they love to do, unless circumstances require it. As I said, I like what I do. All other things just happened around that.
I like to be outside and tinker, to improve things that can be fixed—it’s basically like my profession. I am a bit of a handyman even though I am better at taking things apart than putting them back together. I like working with my hands. But all the tinkering and stuff that you do, that is just a side step. Life is great, I love it, and I don’t need anything else.
People ask me why I don’t buy lottery tickets. I say, ‘because I have already won the lottery in life!’ I’ve got good health, my job, a place to live that I love, my partner, my kids and grandkids, my siblings’ families and friends. It’s like 7 Crown Jewels. A lot of people don’t have that. Kerri Packer never had that. I don’t believe Prince Charles ever had that. I am a blessed person, and I am a happy person. I have made really good decisions in my life. I made some poor ones from time to time, but they haven’t altered my pathway of happiness.”