I suppose I came to a line in the sand. I suppose this was a line that I couldn’t cross. I had to hold onto something. I had to realize my worth; but more, I had to realize there is a difference between living and existing. The choice was mine.
Safe to say that I had to allow myself an honest assessment. I had to dig deep on this one. I had to look around and see where my life is balanced and on the other end, what throws me off.
I have to say that some of the most memorable people in my life are long gone. I say they are gone but far from forgotten. They have moved on or crossed roads that I couldn’t follow. In some regards, these were people who were intended to fit in the spaces of my life. I can say this was to help me, shape me and to mold me into who I’ve become. There’s no right or wrong, good or bad with this one. There’s only information.
Some of the most meaningful people in my life were temporary placements. Some were like placeholders in time, which at the moment, I was unsure why. But ah, lessons have ways and all was revealed once I opened my eyes. Maybe this is why influential people are often temporary. Then again, this is life. Everything in life is only temporary. Except for us, except for our memory and except for the fact that nothing can change the face of history. History is permanent. It’s unalterable. History can’t be changed or rewritten; yet, we sure as hell try.
Everything we do and everyone we meet comes with a purpose and a lesson. I can say the most memorable people to me have held a position in my life. And not all of them were friendly. Not all of them wore smiles. Not all of them were good people either. Some were rotten to the core and hurtful. But still, I learned. Either way, there was a transaction between us. There was no good or bad, right or wrong. It was only information.
I have learned lessons from friends and best friends, bullies, enemies, ex-relationships and yes, I say that some of the most memorable people in my life are gone now. I’m thankful for this.
Life has a way of reminding us of what we need to learn or understand. There’s only so much time to feel sorry. There’s not enough time to reach every goal or touch every dream. A time comes when we learn about the freedom of positive detachment. Or better yet, an awakening comes when we realize that time is finite. There’s not enough of it. So, don’t waste time. Get busy. And go!
Not everyone we meet has the best intentions. I can say that I agree; people have their own agenda, which isn’t always a bad thing. And sure, I have an agenda.
I have selfish reasons why I do what I do. There’s a reason why I live the way I live. Even some of my charities are selfish because (if I’m being honest) I don’t ever want to feel lost or hateful. I don’t want to be vengeful or be the person that was so blinded by insecurity that all I saw was problems on the horizon. I do believe that we have to pay for the things we’ve done. And me, I’d rather pay for my sins now. I’d rather pay it forward because interest can add up worse than any minimum payment on a credit card. Let me pay it forward now. Let me clear my soul here. Let me do this because I want to be good. I want to be clear and feel cleansed (so I can rest).
Plus, who am I anyway?
I am a man. I identify as a person who understands challenges. I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I’ve seen good things and bad things and things that make me no different from anyone else. I have to pay my taxes. I have to pay for my seat on the bus and on the subway. I have no more right than anyone else to this world or my freedoms.
Anything I want is something that I have to work for. Not to mention, anything I have is something I have to work to keep. And what does this mean?
Life is work. Even being lazy is work. Everything requires attention. And me, I want attention. I want to be wanted. I want to be included and regarded. I want to be liked. I want to be appreciated. I want to make a mark on this world. I want to leave an imprint that says I was here and that I did something with my time.
I want to defy the old narratives in my head that tell me otherwise. I want to defy the old ideas that told me, “This is all you’ll ever be” and to be clear, I chose to break away from anyone or anything who supported this notion. I had to do this because otherwise, I’d never be free.
Life is nothing more than one hell of an unending lesson. We learn as we go. We also teach as we go. No one is above the give and take of lesson plans. Even if our lessons are not planned . . . you still learn and you still teach. So, plan on it. Plan on being surprised because life is filled with surprises.
There are people who teach us about comfort and the lack thereof. There are people who will teach us about the safety of love and there will be teachers of hate.
Be advised: Greed is real. Envy is too. So is jealousy, sabotage, hate and violence. And as for violence, well, violence comes in different forms.
Violence is a swift or unjust force. Violence creates change and distortions. Violence leaves scars and I have scars too but the deepest ones could never be seen by the eye. I can say that I have seen violence up close and personal; however, at the same time, I can also say that some of the most violent things I’ve ever seen came packaged in words. And words are a bitch, especially when you can’t seem to forget them. Trust me. I know. I used to be violent too.
I once told you it’s not the bullying itself, it’s the aftermath and the shame that lingers. It’s the unresolved tensions, the traumas and the memories that can haunt a person for much longer than the insults themselves. As a matter of fact, some of the most memorable people in my life are the people who proved this lesson to me. But again, this isn’t bad.
Remember? There is no more right or wrong or good or bad; there’s only information. And once we’ve learned then it is up to us to use what we’ve learned and move forward.
I can say that some of the memorable ones who are gone are not gone for bad reasons per se. Some of my memorable people were there in the crazy times and the fun ones like the long summer nights down at Island Park on the water. We grew up though. We bought houses and started careers. We became different people and hardly recognize each other now. (Age does that.)
Some of the memorable people were friends. Some of these people were fellow soldiers in a war that came without retreat. Some of them howled at the moon with me. Some of them are people who I spoke with. We talked about life and in depth things such as “What the hell am I going to do with myself?”
Admittedly, some of the lessons I’ve learned resulted in scars and catastrophes. But still, most of the memorable people in my life are gone but they’re all still connected in a string of memories. I keep this close and valued. Even the lessons from the so-called bad ones and the bullies.
I see people as a part of this decoration we call life and with them lay the secrets and tales of our past as well as the promise of our future.
I can say that I have lived. I’ve done “The things” so-to-speak. I might not have seen the other side of the world. I’ve never been to Paris. I’ve never flown to the other side of the globe and safe to say, my views for most of my life were limited to a Midtown scene. But still, I know that I have lived.
I have lived on the floor in holding cells where drunks howled with empty vomit into stainless steel toilets. I have been in centers where doctors carry clipboards. I have been there to witness birth and see life evolve. I have seen the rooftops of beautiful places. As well, I have been down so low, as if to be under the ground, literally, and caught up in tragic lies that keep people sick. I have seen both sides of life.To be clear, my best lesson came to me when I was wealthiest in a financial sense but I was poorest at heart.
Sure, I learned.
I learned what friendship means. I learned what it means to be reciprocal and mutually beneficial. I learned what it means to be encouraged and empowered. By the way, this is why fear comes in when something beautiful hits our life. We don’t want to lose our beauty. And sometimes, the fear of losing something makes us avoid caring for it, which is why we lose it in the end. I call this self-sabotage and the fulfillment of a self-fulfilled prophecy that didn’t need to happen.
My view of friendship and love is much different now. I don’t have the need to sell myself anymore. I don’t bring my report card home. I don’t have the need to encourage people to be my friend. Then again, if you are my friend and I mean if you are really my friend then I will always look to encourage you. I say this because true friends empower each other. We learn to laugh. We help one another navigate through life and when life becomes messy, a real friend is there with you to clean up, every step of the way.
I admit that I often think of the old times. My boys. My friends. My fellow thieves who in some cases were people that later became my brothers in recovery. In other cases, they became my family regardless of names, blame, shame or fault. There are my other friends who have passed away and to them I say this: I will always love and care for you. To them I say, I was there and I understand. At least, I hope I do. And to them I say, thank you. Thanks for letting me be a part of your show and I hope to see you in the clouds someday.
I have news for you. You are literally going to meet millions of people. You will learn. You will teach. And you will grow. Just remember that there are over 7 billion people in this world. The best lesson I ever learned was to stop wasting time on the people who do not empower me. My life changed once I decided to change it.
By the way, can I tell you what happened after I made this decision?
I learned to live my life. I owned up to my dreams. I stopped excusing myself. I stopped complaining; but most of all, I started living. Existing just wasn’t working for me anymore.