I knew a man that lived in the town nearby. He was a friend. Safe to say I knew him well enough to understand the more personal aspects of his life. It is also safe to say that I knew his personal truths. He was a broker. Or more accurately, he was a market-maker. He was a stock broker and earned a decent amount of money.
Years passed after leaving the first firm; however, just before the statute of limitations ran out, this man was sitting at his desk in his office. He was on the phone with his five year-old child because his child just learned how to tie their shoes when suddenly; several agents approached the doorway. The man knew why they were there.
The federal agents entered his office and handcuffed him. Next, they escorted this man through the office space, passed the cubicles and the desks of all the others that worked at his firm.
They approached the elevator, entered the elevator, and then escorted this man through the main lobby of the building, which is the same lobby that he passed through every day, dressed proudly in high-priced suits.
The agents walked him through the main doorway, out to the street, and then assisted him into the backseat of an unmarked car before driving away. It was at this point, the man knew his entire life was about to change.
Since I knew him well enough to inquire, I asked how he was.
“I feel bad,” he told me.
Of course he felt badly. Anyone would feel badly but I couldn’t help but wonder if he felt bad about what he did—or did he only feel bad because he got caught?
I learned this lesson at a young age. The Old Man used to say this to me all the time. Whenever I was caught for something I did—I always felt badly. Of course, I felt bad. I was faced with the shame of my actions, which, of course went grossly overlooked in the heat of the moment
The Old Man would ask me, “Do you feel bad about what you did or do you feel badly just because you got caught?”
This is a statement of your character is what The Old Man was trying to teach. If I felt so badly and I knew this was so wrong; why did I do it?
In all honesty and in full disclosure, in most cases, I felt bad because I was caught. We do things that make little sense. Sometimes, we do things against the grain of our normal self. We make mistakes. We have wrongs. We know better and sometimes, we have close calls when poor judgement causes us to wipe our brow and say, “Whew!” almost took a loss on that one.
There is a pathology and science behind every action. Maybe in the case above, the money solved or cured the wrongs like an excuse to resolve the personal dilemma of securities fraud. Maybe in the case above, greed took hold. Maybe insecurity spoke loudest and the prestige of wealth and the appearance of success placated the question between right and wrong.
I can say that within me, when I am not at my best or when I am thinking or reacting emotionally instead of logically, mistakes like this are bound to be made.
When I am not at my best, I can see how this has historically changed the trajectory of my life, and this was not always for the better.
It is easy to excuse behavior when we are not at our best; however, we are still and will always be held accountable for our actions. Lime it or not, there is no way to escape ourselves no matter how hard we try.
See, consequences are a funny thing.
We may avoid them from time to time. We might think we’ve escaped them, and sometimes, we might be right.
However, like I said, consequences are a funny thing. They have a way of compiling upon themselves, and then one day, when we are least expecting it, consequences find us and cause a stream of immediate remorse.
Years back when I was on the farm, I was about to turn 18 and towards the end of my stay here. I was cruising through and nearly done with my time on the farm. Things were easing up for me. Life was good until a young kid came to the farm.
In fairness, he had no business in a drug rehab. In fairness, he hadn’t even reached puberty yet. He was only 12. He was a wise-ass too. And more accurately, I hated this kid.
He was always into something. Unfortunately, I was the one assigned to him. I had to look out for him and keep him out of trouble, which never seemed to work.
He was always on a sanction, which is just another way of saying he was being punished for his behavior.
He was behavioral problem. He was young and screaming for attention. Hell, this kid’s Mom was still buying him clothes in the little kid’s section at Macy’s. He had no business in rehab.
At no point should this boy have been introduced to the ideas of crack or speed or heroin abuse.
At the most, he smoked pot a few times. He came home with alcohol on his breath. Somehow, the boy’s mother saw this and decided to place her son in a long-term therapeutic community. Judgement to the side, still this boy needed to follow the rules
The kid was tough. I will admit it. He was neither physically tough nor physical strong. However, he took whatever punishment was thrown at him. He was sat in corners. He had to wear signs around his neck. And me, I had to shadow him. he was yelled at, punished, scolded, and still this kid held on as tightly as he could to his behavior as if to say, “You will never get to me!”
Maybe I hated him because he goaded people. Maybe I hated him because he looked for the problems. Maybe I hated him because he was always screaming for attention. He was a little punk. He was a loud mouth. He threatened me a few times.
“I better get out of here, or else!”
In all honesty, I wholeheartedly hated and despised this kid because he was me. He was exactly me. I was him and all this kid did was act like a mirror of my younger, former self. Always begging for attention and above all a,always cutting of his own nose to spite his face.
One day, the boy’s mother came up for an emergency meeting. He
was held in a confrontation group and demanded, “Mom, you have to take me home
“No, I don’t.” explained the Mom
“Mom, I mean it. You can’t leave me here!”
“Yes, I can,” said the Mom.
“Mom, please! You have to take me home.”
When there is no room between us and hard-bricked wall of our mental personal penitentiaries, then there is no room left to escape our consequences. It was then that the boy realized that in his cry for attention, in his effort to be noticed, and in his stride to be cool or tough or seem as though he was going to dictate the shots fired against him—everything up until this point had severely backfired.
There was no escaping the consequences anymore. There was no getting away from the fact that his choices led to the limitation of any further or attractive choices.
This kid did not like his choices. He did his best to make this known. He created a problem for himself and apologized; however, in his apology, the boy thought he could dictate his amends and choose his own punishment.
Unfortunately, the world does not work this way. Unfortunately, we all pay for our wrongs at one point or another—even if we escape the lesson, don’t worry, the lesson comes back (with interest on top) to teach us that we should have listened the first time.
Consequences can be a bitch. Make no mistake about this. They are neither positive nor negative; they are just consequences, which are based on our decisions and our actions.
When I was faced with the errors of my past, and when I realized my wrongs had an effect on others; I learned that words have meaning and that just because I was not at my best at the time, or just because my words were not intended the same way they were received, this did not and does not give me the permission to be inappropriate or unprofessional.
Moreover, I learned that the day I hold myself accountable for my actions is the same day I learned to improve. This was the same day that I was able to leave my past behind me (even if others refused to) because deep in my heart, I know I atoned for my sins. Regardless to outside sources, I know I did what I could to make me right again.
I learned that I will not always like my choices. If I have to make amends, this will not always be easy, and, my amends will not always be received as well as I wish they could be.
Sometimes when we apologize, we hope that someone will come around and say, “Don’t worry. It’s okay.”
The truth is it isn’t okay. If what we did was okay, then we wouldn’t need to apologize.
I learned that an apology delivered more than once is no longer an apology at all. Instead, this is a method of manipulation—and manipulation does nothing else but bring me back to just more of the same.
People say things. People do things and people will often impose their problems upon others. I learned that I cannot own this or accept responsibility for anyone else but me
When there is no more room left between me and my wrongs, this is the perfect time for me to rebuild. Rather than cry, rather than bitch about my conditions, rather than complain about my consequences, I can do one of two things: I can learn and grow or repeat and stay the same.
The only one that can ever get me out of the hard-bricked walls of my personal prison is me. I can do one of two things: remain trapped or be free.
The choice is always mine.