Putting In The Work

If I could do anything at all, I suppose I would start here, right now. I suppose I would start with this and then I could move forward, as in onward, as in better. I suppose the moment we understand the benefits of our ability are often underestimated, we realize our ability is the exact thing that empowers us to move forward.

Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.”

I suppose that I am like anyone and everyone else when I say, if I could, I would hit a button to recreate the past so the past would no longer affect the present or predict the future. If I had the chance to build a button, I would build a button that if pushed, all the unwanted, unnecessary things would go away

We live in a world of hopeful, quick fixes. This is true. No one wants the suffering. No one wants pain. No one wants the anguish or the anxiety. No one wants to struggle. We only want results. We just want to push a button or take a magic pill that will somehow take it all away – and by “It” I mean all the unnecessary fears and all the crazy irrational concepts we come up with.

We want something to do the work for us.
We want to find a short cut.
We want to give up old behaviors but we don’t want to give up the temporary benefits that come with them.

If we could, we would push a button and there would be no such thing as discomfort. We could eat anything without worrying about weight.
We could push a button, and just like that, our figure is perfect. There would be no such thing as insecurity. No one would ever struggle. No one would ever be stuck in a life they couldn’t get away from.


Imagine pushing a button and then instantly, BAM! there is no more depression and no such thing as mental illness. The defects we see in ourselves have simply vanished.

Someone once asked me if I would take a pill and then I could drink beer or maybe have a scotch without worrying about this thing I’ve grown to know as “Alcoholism.” Just one pill and there would be no more anxiety and no more battles of overthinking and over-complicating life’s simplest equations. Just one pill and all of this would go away.

I think my answer was I would probably take at least two because hey, if one is good, two must be better, right?

There was a group of mine in a jail that turned heated with a discussion about getting high. We talked about the reasons people continue to get high even when the high is more costly than beneficial. I heard someone mention an idea that I have not heard since the time I first walked through the doors of a treatment center.

I began to think about the person I was at that time. I was lost. There was no way I was going to listen to anyone. There was no way I was about to believe in anything I was told or taught. Why would I want to stop the only thing that made sense to me? I knew I looked bad. I know there was an intake picture of me somewhere that looked pretty haunting. I was sick when I took the picture. My skin was pasty and pale. I weighed 80lbs. because my food source was more chemical than nutritional. 

This is when I heard someone say, “I like getting high. I just don’t like to pay the consequences.” Then they said, “I would get high if I didn’t have to pay the consequences.” I remember thinking, “But you do get high and you paid the consequences anyway.”

I never assumed that decades later, I would stand in front of a roomful of men in a jail program and hear someone repeat the same line.

“I like to get high. I just don’t like the consequences. If I could get rid of the consequences then I would get high right now!”

I go back to the idea of the button that I’d like to build someday. I think about the magic pill. I think about the fast track to wellness that we all want but yet, we want what we want, and when do we want it? Obviously, we want it now!

There is an idea about hypnotism that I see as inaccurate. There is an idea that maybe we can be brainwashed to believe something else and sever all of our mental connections that failed us in the past. People want to lay back, close their eyes, and have everything gone by the time they open them.
Nothing really works this way.

I wish there was a magic pill. I wish there was a button. I wish there was a way to take away the struggle or the suffering. I wish there was a way that we can avert the path and find an easier way. The truth is magic pills don’t work the way we think they do and as for the button, well, I’m still trying to build the box it comes in.

I have watched people endure the most incredible sickness, only to go back to the same old behaviors that made them sick in the first place. If I could, I would push a button to make this easier for them. As a matter of fact, if I could have, I would have pushed the same button for me to make it easier on my life.

But there was no button. There was only a process. There is work. There is effort and there is action, which takes shape and inevitably, this is what transforms us from what we were into who we are now.

Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not fighting the old, but creating the new.”

In other words, for me to be any different, I had to stop looking for the easier way. In my case, I had to stop trying to negotiate the terms of the work in front of me because oftentimes, it takes more work to get out of a job than the work it takes to finish the job itself. In my life, I have created more pain by trying to escape pain.

Most of my failed attempts to change something in my life is mainly because I refused to let go of my old habits completely. Holding on to my past settings and default programs only led me to repeat more of the same behaviors and habits.

Nothing worked well for me until I learned to focus more on my efforts of moving forward. I had to stop being overly concerned with the links to my past and the results and pay more attention to the work I put in.

Someone I considered a friend once told me, “We’re in the effort business. Not the results business.”

“Just keep working, kid. The results will come anyway.”

Don’t worry. I plan on it!

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