This Is Why I Do What I do

I go over my journals read through my past ideas. Sometimes I recall the tasks of the time. Sometimes I read and remember what I was thinking and feeling at the time. Like you or anyone else in this world, I am someone trying to find my place in the circle. I have goals. I have dreams and ideas. Not all things fall into place. Life changes and so will situations. Circumstances are not always within my control (and I get that) but I am, however, responsible for me.

If I am to be the person I choose, then I have make decisions based on this choice. I need to remember this.

More than a year has passed since I began my second empowerment group. I will refrain from too much detail but I will explain that the class I hold on Sunday mornings is in jail. There are people awaiting trial. There are those who will serve their time and then go home—and then there are those who await their sentence. Some go away for a few years. Some go away for much longer, which is odd to see because of their understanding and acceptance of this time. It’s not their first time in. They can do jail. They understand the rules of interaction and they know how to get by. 

No one speaks about this but jail is an odd addiction. There is a word for this known as recidivism, but yet, this word is unknown by many.
Jail is a revolving door. I know this because of my own experience with friends that go in and out. I myself have my own jacket (or record, or a leash as it’s called) but I was always fortunate in court. So my time was spent in a more productive way.

More time does not always change a person for the better. I watched a young friend go away for a semi-serious, yet semi-small crime. He did a little more than three years—he would’ve been home sooner but the last fight he was in (to survive) added more time to his sentence.
He told me about this. He told me about the way he explained himself to the powers that be; said, “Do you have any idea what it’s like in here?” and he shrugged his shoulders at them. But to no avail, the powers that be added more time to his sentence.

The man that came home was much different from my friend that was more charismatic and lively than anyone I ever knew. He was good looking, not too big, not too tough, but cool (you know?) the kind of guy that everyone wanted to see. Girls liked him. His friends loved him. However, his life changed because of a bad choice and the outcome was more life-altering than anyone expected.

I have friends of mine, gone long ago, buried, and all that remains of them are memories and metal pictures of the days that go back to when we were kids. I watched them from their younger years in Boy Scout uniforms.
I knew them when they played with toys> I knew them back when they were Mommy’s little soldiers—they wore braces and had sleep overs. Some of them played sports until one day, their intentions changed and so did their intensity.
Their behaviors changed and so did the games they played.
On occasion, I run across an old friend; whether from the old neighborhood or from a treatment center, from the 12-step rooms, or just someone I knew from somewhere. I see them on the nod—their body dangling, eyes closed, mouth is slightly hung open as they collapse closely to the ground in stages. I see others with their arms all scraped up, no teeth, dirt beneath their fingernails; twitchy as ever, scarred up and beaten down from their life and life choices.
We talk and some tell me how I don’t understand. They tell me how I could never understand because I got out young. I got away and they were caught; they were stuck in the life, and somehow—I got away, free as a bird.
I see people I knew and still care about; their arms like pin cushions. I see others that dove into a bottle and chose to stay there. I have old friends—no wait, I have dear friends whom I love as my own blood, and yet, I will never see them again because their life choices have locked them up in a prison.

There is a common thing said to anyone looking to be helpful. “You just don’t understand.”
They are right. No one understands. No one understands me either. No one knows what it feels like to experience the world from within my skin. I know we relate and we can commiserate together. We can weep together. We can feel similarly—but we are all still very unique.

I saw someone I knew in the recovery world. His intentions changed, however, and he was not at his best. My old friend was just beaten for a bag, which means he was ripped off. He was angry as heel—cursing and screaming, and then suddenly, and to my friend, hatefully, I came out from the doorways near a train station. I saw him. He saw me. But more accurately, I was not the person he wanted to see at the time.

I am the kind of friend that I will not and do not deny my friendships. I will always love my friends but there are times when I have no other choice but to love them from a distance. That being said, I saw my man, sweating off an intolerable thing—he was hurting, for sure. I walked over and said my hello. We talked for a minute but I knew this was not the time for him.
I said, “It’s good to see you, man,” and then I walked away.

I was way passed 36th Street on 8th when I heard him scream, “Fuck you!”
I did not turn around or acknowledge this. I just took it from where it came. He was man not at his best.
Months later, I saw him on the street. He was cleaner for the time being. He told me what happened. He told me, “I hated seeing you.”
“I didn’t want anyone preaching to me,” he said.
“Have I ever preached to you?”
My friend explained, “It ain’t what you say. It’s who you are.”
He told me, “You’re a reminder. And at the time, I didn’t want to be reminded of where we were and how I knew you.”
He apologized. Said, “That wasn’t me.” Said, “I didn’t mean what I said. It was just a bad time.”

I never saw my friend again . . .
This is why I began my program in the jail. I want to see if I can help make a connection. I want to see if someone finds their way. I want to see someone defy the odds and change their intentions. It does happen. People do change. I just want to be there to see it.

About a year ago, I wrote the following thought:
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  ~ Francis of Assisi.

Like you or anyone else in this world, I have a long list of things that need my attention. Like anyone else, I have life to deal with. I have things I need to address and things I want to run away from. I have things that weigh on me and keep me up at night.
I am not immune to the problems at heart; I have hurt feelings the same as anyone else. I am also not immune to fear, doubt, worry, and insecurity. I make mistakes on a regular basis and act on character defects and above all, I am human, complete with perfect imperfections and shortcomings. I have sins and secrets and mistakes and problems and insecurities. I am sure I am not alone with this. But what do we do?

Start by doing what’s necessary:
Wake up and get out of bed. This sounds simple enough, but it’s not always so simple.
Let’s face it, when the day looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle and when the anxiety machine turns too fast and all you want to do is run —waking up and getting out of bed is not an easy thing to do. No, in times like this, getting out of bed is the bravest thing to do. Doing this can be added to the list as your first success of the day

Wash yourself, feed yourself, and cloth yourself. Again, these sound like obvious and easy things. But when the weight of the world hits the shoulders and the pressure seems too great; these small things are really large successes. If you can do this than mark this down as accomplishment number two.

It is a successful thing to nurture yourself through troubled times. It’s a successful thing to do the simple tasks when the worry is out of control and fear has its way. To wash, feed yourself, cloth, and clean up after you is good for the soul. And this might not seem like much of a victory, —especially when the heart is broken—I know his doesn’t seem like much when the will to move forward is hinged upon the painful aspect that “Life happens,” and the mistakes we’ve made have come around to introduce their outcomes—but still, to move when you feel like you can’t is more than just an accomplishment. As a matter of fact, I call this heroic.

Walk out the door and face the day. This is toughest when times are hard. To do all of the above in good times are easy. But when times are tough and the world spins so fast that you’ll never catch up —to wake up, get out of bed, wash, feed, clean yourself, and then to walk out and face the day (of all things) is truly an amazing thing to do.

Then do what’s possible:

Take one task at a time. Do not consider the other tasks at hand. Do one thing at a time, until completion, and then move to the next. It is really easy to lose focus and have our lives spread out in too many different directions.
So hit the brakes. Do one thing at a time.

Years back, I changed somewhere around 250 faucets in both the men and ladies bathrooms at work. Of course, I did not read the directions for installation, which called for an installation time of 11 minutes on the front page. No, I thought I knew enough about faucets that I would have no trouble installing them on my own.

I was wrong.

The faucets were automatic motion sensors. There was a little bit of wiring, but not much, and there were separate parts, which I assumed they went were they went. Unfortunately, I learned my lesson on how to install the faucets the hard way.  And with several more to go and no way to abandon the job; I decided to read the directions, learn the proper way, and then yes —it only took me about ten minutes per faucet.

One by one, I installed each. One by one I completed the restrooms on the floors throughout the building. And one by one, I was closer to completion. I did not do this alone. I did this with other people; however, being the newest on the job, or “low-man,” I had to do more than my share.

I swear, I never thought I would finish. But I did. And this wasn’t easy per se, but had I continued without direction and had I continued to focus on the long list ahead of me, —the job would have been a lot worse.

Like anyone else, I have problems and people I wish I could get away from. There are people I wish I could change my relationship with. However, anything outside of me such as people, places, and things, are not possible to change. All I can do is remain consistent and persistent. All I can do is stay diligent. More accurately, all I can do is what’s possible and put in the effort. The rest is out of my control.

Suddenly, you are doing the impossible:

At the hardest times when the mind plays games and the whispers in the ear tell us lies, the inaccurate assumptions churn in the mind; people seem to have an ulterior motive, and out so-called friendships are questioned; let’s not leave out those who we thought would be for us went elsewhere, and in the times anxiety machine burns red —the fact that all of the above was accomplished and waking up, getting out of bed,  and then we showed up, above anything, this is truly a case of beating the impossible.

I want to overcome. I want to see other people overcome as well. I want to watch someone with depression turn around and smile and say, “you know what? Life ain’t so bad!”
I want to watch someone overcome their obstacles and turn them into opportunities. I want problems to become possibilities. But more, I want to see those who feel they can’t take another step continue to make that next step, then turn around and say to themselves, “Look what I just did!”

This is why I decided to be a life coach. This is why I go to jails and homeless shelters. this is why I want to speak with people that no one else will speak with. And sure, most will turn away. Plenty will fall. But one in the crowd will rise above and that is the one I am trying to reach.

Erma Bombeck once said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.”

I admire this thought. I admire this belief as well. In troubled times when it’s hard enough to put two feet on the floor, the idea of using all the talent seems impossible to me. But then I go back to the first thought —just do what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and then suddenly, I’ve accomplished the impossible.

Sometimes I receive heartbreaking news. Sometimes my mistakes get in my way and I lose my sense of vision. Sometimes I want to quit. But Erma was right. I want to use everything I have and not have one ounce left.

Okay world, I see what you’re trying to do.
But I’m ready for it

Are you?

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