And so of any, this is the first page I write in a new journal.
This is the first paragraph to detail a new journey. It all starts here at page one.
This is where my yesterday ends and I begin.
It all starts now . . .
I remember when I started with this commitment. I promised myself—no matter how busy the day is or what happens; I made a pledge that I would write my thoughts and work towards this goal I have of becoming a writer.
I remember the first time I sat in front of a blank computer screen with a keyboard that I retrieved from a trash bin.
These components along with a broken mouse and a beaten up mouse pad sat on a small desk in a small room inside a small, upstairs apartment in a private house.
Behind me, quiet music played from the speakers of a little radio in a bedroom where I had very few things to call my own. There were no decorations of any sort, no photos on the wall or on the shelving. With the exception of empty loneliness, there was nothing in my room other than a bed, a natural pinewood dresser-drawer with weak bottoms to hold my clothes. There was an old outdated television with a built in VCR player, a lamp for lighting, and a junked computer that was rehabbed into condition and given to me as a gift. Aside from these things, I never had so little and yet so much as I did on this day.
It all starts here, I thought to myself.
“This is where it begins.”
And so it went. I wrote my first page. My words were horribly misspelled and my sentence structure was terrible at best. My typing skills were that of me poking at the keyboard with one finger—pecking one letter at a time in a labored and painfully slow effort to type down my thoughts.
I am not educated by way of a school system. I have only walked on stage to accept a diploma once in elementary school. Aside from this; I am seen as uneducated in an educationally snobbish society.
I have no degrees aside from the diplomas I earned in the school we call life. Mind you, the diplomas I have are not ones typical to any college or learning institution. My diplomas did not come proudly from a school with long, distinguished hallways. My degrees are not ones that a professional could hang on a wall in say, on office, or post them on a resume for a job application.
My learning institution was quite different from the Ivy League. My classroom education was earned on street corners in both good neighborhoods and bad. I received my education on corners in the protected suburbs as well as places like 103rd Street and Northern Boulevard.
I learned valuable lessons in classes on violence and consequences. I was taught about the abilities of fear and the value of pain.
And make no mistake; pain is truly valuable.
Pain has the ability to inspire and motivate—it teaches us how and when to speak. Pain teaches us when to move forward and when to sit still. Understanding pain helps keep us safe. Without the understanding of pain; one is at risk. Without understanding pain, one cannot understand violence or what it means to be brought to justice.
No, I did not attend these classes with common businessman or politicians like congressmen or senators. However, those who sit in suit and ties and run boardrooms at the highest levels; they understand these lessons very well.
I logged my classroom hours in places like emergency rooms and psych visits to local hospitals. I received classroom credit in drug addiction and rehabilitation centers.
In addition, I attended long, powerful lectures in such esteemed places as the backseat of police cars or hidden behind a closed door while cuffed to a detective’s desk.
I have the educational experience of courtroom visits. I spent a few overnight stays behind bars—listening in while street professors give legal advice and tell about the law and our rights.
When it comes to the arguments regarding the separation between church and state, there was no choice in accepting God as a factor. In one of my lectures, I was told my troubles were due to the fact that I did not know God.
I know exactly who God is. In my classroom experience I learned one true fact. The biggest difference between God and man is God knows he is not man. This lesson was taught to me through lessons of humility, for there is no place more humbling than the back of a truck while handcuffed to another inmate or stuck in a small cell that reeks of urine and cleaning solution.
I am qualified to say I have lived on different sides of life. I have been on the good side and bad side. I have seen the minds, life, and families of friends that were destroyed by a terrible social virus. This virus is one which our society tries to deny or hide. This sickness is the one which parents swear to the Heavens, “Not my kid. My kid would never do that!”
But I was your kid. I was exactly that. I was the kid next door. The lost one. I was the uninspired, whom of which, went unnoticed in an effort to destroy myself.
I was the one who was drowned in a system of denial. There was no awareness to teen depression, suicide, and drug addiction.
There was no understanding of my learning disabilities or social anxieties and illnesses. Whatever I am and whomever I have become is strictly a result of who I was, where I came from, and what I am today.
I am a self-taught writer with no official education beyond the 9th grade and a general equivalency high school diploma.
I am educated in something called sobriety. And well-learned, I am able to say I have earned my place at the table, which means, I can speak on these subjects with some authority.
I am the underdog.
I am a graduate with honors in a class of literally millions.
“You’ll never make it,” someone told me.
“You don’t have the chops and you don’t have the education to become an author.”
This person had her masters in social work. She had degrees on the wall of her home office. She had a position of authority and an uneducated opinion of who I was.
“I just don’t want to see you set yourself up for disappointment,” is what I was told.
Months later, I was sitting at a table in a bookstore with a sign on it that said, “Meet the Author.”
That author was me . . .
I watched my old social worker pass by with astonished eyes and an open mouth.
I didn’t say anything to her.
I didn’t say anything because I didn’t have to. My education has taught me there are times when I don’t need to speak a word. All I need to do is draw from the satisfaction of my own success. Which in this case, was something that social worker said I could never have.
Success . . .
I promised myself.
Someday, I’m going to be a writer.
My typing and grammar skills have improved since this time
I’m not where I want to be yet
Then again, my story isn’t finished. I have more to write, and soon enough (hopefully) you will have more to read.
The lessons I learned are valuable. Although my degrees did not come from an expensive school with a large campus, or tall trees near a green where fellow students gathered to safely discuss life; this does not mean my education was not costly.
At one point . . .
my education nearly cost me everything.