The worst place to be in is a place that never changes, never challenges and never dares us to grow or walk on. We never evolve or try or move in a new direction.
We never find our passion and, essentially, we remain stuck.
There’s no drive or substance. There’s only more of the same which might be fine for some people. There’s no room for judgment here. However, when we look to make a change or if we want to improve our life, the inertia of change is intended to break the loop of repetitiveness. Otherwise, there is no change. Or, even if we have changed, without maintenance, we can find ourselves back in the loop. Or, as the saying goes: We’re back in the saddle again.
I have read conflicting articles about habits. I have read that if we commit to a goal or if we continue a practice for 21 days that this can become a habit. I have read that if we train ourselves to pursue a goal and work through this for 21 days that this practice will become habitual.
Then I read disputes about this. I read somewhere else that it takes 66 days. Then I read somewhere – and please forgive me for not noting the sources. I am not intending nor plagiarizing as if I know the details of these studies. Instead, I have a point to make which has nothing to do with the study at all. So, please bear with me.
Like anyone else, I have access to a computer. I have access to information and search engines that will answer my questions. As we all know, if it’s on the internet then it must be true, right?
Wrong . . .
Our habits become a structure of living. Change the structure then we change our life.
Well, maybe . . .
Years ago, I met a man who was perhaps one of the kindest people I have ever known. He was kind to me during an unkind time. I was angry to say the least. In fact, to say that I wanted to quit is an understatement. I wanted to quit and while doing this, I planned to take down the world around me because if I wasn’t happy – no one was going to be happy.
There was no comfort for the soul. There was no peace for me in my young life. My job was unrewarding and my life amounted to the ceiling of my own limitations.
This man that I tell you about is a person who talked to me when few others would dare. He didn’t shy away when I was in a total rage or fit of panic. He never yelled at me or came back at me with an argument. No, he was not that type of person.
In full disclosure, I admit to my depths of homophobia at the time. But then again, this was an awakening to me because although I was “How I was” at the time, this person was brave enough to be himself.
I had never dared to be just as brave or as kind. I was selfish. I was self-centered. I was resentful and uncomfortable, yet none of this deterred that man from being nice to me.
On all accounts, he was one of the best people I have ever met in my life. Even then as a young lunatic; even as an aggressive narcissist; and as a person who would sooner spit than say a kind word, I knew this man would always be one of the greatest people that I’d ever known.
This was a person who learned to save their own life. He understood challenges and the difficulties of change. He certainly understood the boundaries of habits and how this can limit us into a margin of living.
This was a person who was slightly famous and cosmetically beautiful. Not a hair out of place and always dressed exceptionally well. This was a person who saw great things and experienced the world. But yet, he took the time to speak to me, an otherwise bum. I was quasi-street with a chip on my shoulder, self-absorbed and an entitled punk with a fast and loud mouth – always shooting for positioning and always calculating and, of course, always exhausted from living this way. This man was a hero to me. He was also a person who understood the mental structures of our personal disorders. He was a man in recovery but, above anything, he was an amazing human being. Therefore, no other description of him is necessary.
I never said any of this to my friend when I had the chance; however, years after his passing – I find the need to say this here for all the world to read. I loved this man.
I loved him for his kindness. I loved him for his ability to disarm me with a smile. I loved him for his refusal to “leave me alone” because in my earliest stages of recovery, I was ready to do more than quit. I was ready to flush everything away and take some casualties with me. Without hesitation, this man let me know that should I ever need a friend or an ear or a shoulder, he was there for me.
I remember a poem he taught me which, oddly enough, I remember this over anything else that I learned during that time in my life. I am not sure who the writer of this poem is and I take no credit. I do not own this. However, I offer this because this poem is a description of my oppositeness. As well, the giving nature of this poem is exactly what this entry is about.
I would never dare to care about anyone more than I cared about me. Then again, I placed my trust and faith in people who never deserved it. Safe to say this is a contradiction of terms.
I was cyclical. I was habitual. I was more than someone who was in early recovery from a substance abuse disorder. I was a construct of patterns and behaviors that were habitually mapped and connected to a series of thoughts, experiences, feelings and emotions.
I was caught in the emotional diagrams of the mind, which had been built by a pathology and the science of my past. I was defensive because I was petrified of being bullied. I wanted to be liked and feared being hated.
I took advantage because I was afraid to be the brunt of someone else’s scam. In a sense, I stole to keep anyone from stealing from me. My behavior was an alive and out-loud version of isolation in plain sight.
Or, in other words, I fueled my hatred and kept my fears alive. I never dared to love anyone or trust anyone. But at the same time, I was both socially and personally lonesome.
I wanted love but I was afraid to love. I was afraid of the rejection or the feelings of vulnerability. I was afraid to be seen as the fool or feel foolish.
I was afraid to find out that I was the punchline (again) or feel weak and that someone else had the upper hand which, by the way, all of these were symptoms of something greater.
The mind is our bookkeeper which accounts for our details and calculates probabilities. I would say that our assumptions are based on a process of deductive reasoning; however, deductive reasoning is based on logic and how we logically come to different conclusions.
There is no logic in the emotional mind. Instead, this is where we store our feelings and our concerns. This is where we keep our fears and our memories which are tied to our bonds with trauma, rejection, or emotional outcomes which we use to base our association and opinions of upcoming events.
I was my habit. Yes, I say that I was my habits and I was my behaviors, But at the same time, none of this was me. Again, another contradiction of terms (I know) but contradictions like this can also be true.
I was my hatred. I was my fear and my misrepresentation of self.
At a time when I was so miserably drawn to the downward spiral effect, I found myself alone (again) and mixed with the contempt of shame and regret. All the while, I wished I could just be “normal” or accepted and feel the joys of life and love. But I was too afraid.
I wished I had friends like other people had friends. I wished I was unafraid and that I could remove myself from judgment.
I was under the assumption that if I don’t (or won’t) take advantage, I would never find comfort or ever get anything because somebody else would get there first – and take this away from me.
I was a wall. I was a compilation of battles and personal wars and here he was, this man who had no reason to care for me. He had no reason to even like me.
I was loud and aggressive. I was “crazy” or so I was told. But none of this intimidated him –
He told me:
A bell does not ring
Until you ring it
And a song is not sung
Until you sing it
And love in your heart was not put there to stay
For love is not love
Until you give it away . . .
At the time in my young life, I had never heard anything so unafraid or so brave. In any other realm of communication, I would have downplayed this and destroyed this kindness with sarcasm or cruelty.
But still, I never heard anything so kind or so loving.
I remember viewing this as a personal kryptonite. To love someone – to give myself without being anyone else and allow this to be enough, or to forgo the mask and the images of self-defense – or to acknowledge any of this would be far too brave a thing for me – to give way and surrender the falseness of my behavior and embrace my truth which is that I was afraid; that I was scared no one would like me; so, I gave people reasons to hate me so that I could perpetuate my predictions – I was this. I was all of this and more.
I learned this from a man who habitually changed his life on a daily basis for more than 30 years. Until one day, his old habits came back and once more, my friend found himself on the wrong side of the bottle. He was clean and sober for far more than 21 days or 66 days.
As an estimate, he habitually lived his life a certain way for more than 10,950 but it only took one decision, which happened within one moment, and just like that – he was back to where he was, habitually.
For the record, I saw him once. He was hardly able to walk. He was still dressed well but his eyes were hidden behind a pair of large sunglasses. They were dark and black. He had a black fur coat on his shoulders. Perhaps his outfit cost more than a car but dressing the part was no longer his problem. In fairness, it hurt me to see him like this.
Once more, in full-disclosure, I admit the person who I was at the time was not able to go up and say anything. Instead, I watched him walk into a roomful of people – more than anything, I was a witness that our mind can remember old, default settings. This is proof that life is in need of constant evolution and that without reward and without maintenance, we can wilt and die – just like my friend did.
So, I write this now and perhaps this is several years too late. But, humbly, I am just a small person. To me, my friend, you were so big and bright. You were larger than life to me and you were kind when you didn’t have to be.
You were helpful. You were patient and as I type this, I openly admit to the tears in my eyes.
I can recognize how my personal science was defined by you in a short, simple poem.
I learned that we all have our “reasons” as to why we speak or why we act. Additionally, I learned that in fact, we do rise to the limit of our own expectations and that we do limit ourselves.
But moreover, I learned that should I choose to find my truth or should I choose to change and improve, then I would have to alter my direction. I would have to reverse the polarities and switch the inertia to produce the energy and change my course.
I learned that the construct of my mind is simply a structure of experience. Therefore, the worst place for me is a place where I never grow or advance or that I never improve. The worst place to be is in a room with no doors, no options and to be caught in the belief that this is all I will ever be.
You showed me two paths. One is the road back to old faults and the other is the road to a new redemption. To which I say, thank you.
Thank you for teaching me the art of wanting more.
I might not have found all that I’m looking for yet – but then again, I’m not as lost as I used to be.
No, I think I get it now.
I think I understand what you were trying to tell me. We have to live. We have to act. We have to grow and nurture our lives. We have to understand the art of motion and the ability of our voice.
We have to know this, fully and clearly. Otherwise, we can wilt (or die) and go back to patterns that serve an injustice.
Sleep well, my friend.
I love you.