I would like to direct your attention to this thing we call humanity. Then again, what does humanity mean? Does this only mean to be human or to be real? And what does this mean to be real anyway? Is this us? Are we real?
Then again, is anything real?
Consider this as a working model, otherwise known as Project Earth. Assume this is no different from a model, like a train station inside of a hobby shop. Trains pass and people are either frozen or fixed into an appropriate position. We are all placed in our perspective places.
This is us, so-to-speak. We are alive and well on a huge ball which is the approximately 92,547,025.4 square miles that circles around the sun. Then again, here we are, living in the same amount of space yet there are people who would swear that the world circles around them. But I digress.
Let’s go back to that model. Let’s think about the scale of things and the different places and communities. Let’s think about the different cultures, people, races, religions, beliefs and otherwise. This is an embodiment of our so-called society. And here we are. All of us. Everyone is on the move. Everyone has something to do or someplace to be and everyone has their own trips and hang-ups.
No one knows what goes on behind the eyes of someone else. . .
Yet, we find time to assume. We have plenty of time to offer an opinion or judge and point fingers. Everyone plays the game of judge and jury.
We have more than enough time to be self-absorbed and dive into the cesspool of self-importance. It’s easy to look around and think about who has it easier. It’s definitely easy enough to look around and pick a fight or be pissed off.
It’s easy to count the problems or calculate the reasons why life falls apart. It’s easy to be distracted. It’s easy to lose sight and become blinded by our ego or by our belief that, somehow, we are entitled and that we deserve everything we ask for, always and immediately. With everything at our disposal – it’s easy to give in to the internal voice and allow ourselves to be steered in the wrong directions or fall prey to the degradation of our irrational thoughts.
Vanity is easy. This is also natural. The enemy within is real and comes with a list of excuses that range from doubt, blame, shame, fault, guilt and regret. The enemy within is blind to the outside. Then one day, without provocation, we find ourselves humbled. We are hit with emotion; that is of course, for those who are brave enough to face our emotions.
I swear, the world can be like a mirror sometimes. We see ourselves for who we are – or, who we aren’t.
I am no bigger or smaller nor better or worse than anyone else in this world. I am like you and anyone else who is trying to make their way. I have doubts and secrets. I have scars that can be seen and others that are hidden down deep. I have dreams and aspirations and I have doubts and fears that none of this will ever come true.
Like many others, I have my bouts with imposter syndrome and like most people, I often lose my way due to a chronic case of shortsightedness. I pair this with other co-occurring challenges which are mixed with a case of discomfort and terminal awkwardness.
I do not see what others see and again, I am like most people who fail to see their own strengths. No, I see myself as a version: There is me, which is the person that I am. There is the person who I want to be. There is the person who you see and then there is the person who I try to portray.
I am like you.
I have a life. I have a history. I have my share of confusions and misunderstandings. I have a list of mistakes and thinking errors which have historically led me to repeat old behaviors. Yet, there is another version of me, whom I am when I’m here. This is the person I want to be, exactly like this, like the way I am with you. I am safe here in a literary world with notes and pages that make sense to me. I love it here. I love this place because I can come here and be myself – with you.
There is a piece of me who is timid yet there is a piece of me who yearns, who is unafraid, who wants to live, touch, and taste everything – and there is a child in me who remembers the days of being scorned. I remember times of being bullied, of being beaten by either words or fists – and there is the me who remembers a moment of awareness; of a time when I came to a realization of what happened over a touch that was never forgotten and a moment of shame that I never asked for; but either way, the shame was mine. I remember the days when I decided that this was it. This means war.
I never wanted to feel weak again. I never wanted to experience another moment of humiliation or shame or be picked on or called out for being weird or different. I never asked for life to happen the way it did. However, life does not ask our permission. Therefore, we can only control so much. We can either live or die. We can either move forward or withdraw – or more importantly, we can either live or we can exist.
Either way, life is out there, which is true for everybody.
I know that you’ve never met my friend Richie. Quite honestly, I only knew him for a short period of time. I knew him as a person who was incarcerated. I knew him as a person who struggled with substance abuse. Then again, I knew more about Richie than the basic surface. I knew him as charismatic, a charmer and even though Richie was incarcerated and although he was challenged with issues of his own, Richie always managed to smile. If anyone asked me – I would tell them Richie is a good man.
He was talented with a pen or pencil – a true artist. I know this because while I stood before an early morning empowerment group in the Drug Rehabilitation Center of a county jail, Richie drew a portrait of me. I remember this specifically. I remember him approaching and handing me the picture he drew with a pencil.
I thanked him.
I thanked him because the picture meant more to me than a simple drawing. I say this because although our circumstances were different, we allowed each other to be human for a moment.
Upon his release, Richie and I agreed to stay in touch. But of course, life gets in the way. People move on and go off in different directions. He was seen as a “convict.” He was a person with a past and someone who was predicted to fail. But not to me. I never predicted this.
To me, Richie was my friend.
I have the portrait that he drew in a frame near my desk. I look at this from time to time. I think of Richie and the cruelness of substance abuse.
I always wished I had the chance to speak with him one last time. I suppose news like this is nothing new. But I remember when I heard the news. I remember sitting back in my chair at my desk. I thought about the hurdles he had to jump and the obstacles he had to overcome.
Aside from his record and aside from his substance use, there was a person. And that person was my friend.
I think about Richie and others who I’ve had the honor of meeting. I can say that I have met some of the best people in the absolute worst places. I have met brilliant people who did stupid things and amazing people who have done terrible things.
This is my humanity. This is my entry where I tell you about my empathy and where I tell you how this hurts and – this is what’s opened my eyes.
Have you ever had someone smile at you who would otherwise have no reason to smile?
Have you ever seen someone who was beaten or shamed?
What about picked on or humiliated? And somehow, right there in the midst of tragedy, the cavalry arrives like knights of the round table. Fate catches up as a protector steps in and just like that, the abuse is over.
I want to see a different world yet the only world I see is the one that I live in.
This means I have to clean up my side of the street. This means that if I want to find humanity, then I have to share my humanity. This means that if I want to see change, then I have to initiate change.
If I want to feel the thrill of victory, I have to create my victories. I have to plant the seeds to grow my dreams. I have to nurture them and when the fruit is ripe for the taking, I have to reach for it. I have to do this as hard as I possibly can. I have to do this as if my life depended on it.
I think of Richie and his life or how short this was. I think about the ability of his best possible potential and his inability to reach it.
I think of Dino. I think of Dorian. I think of Tommy and I think of Joe.
I think of a young boy by the name of Jake and how his short life brought people together. I think about his love for soup, which he called hot poop. I think about a young boy at the age of two – and then I think of the cancer which took him away.
I think about the tears which I have now and how people will shy away from this entry.
But I beg you – do not turn away. Do not block this out.
I think about a young man whose challenges with cerebral palsy have not stopped him from breaking weightlifting records.
I think about people who were told that they would never walk again and they said, “To hell with that!”
They fought and they struggled. They hurt and they wept and although this was hard and grueling at times, they never gave up hope. They never stopped trying and somehow a miracle graced them. They confronted the obstacles and defied the odds.
I do not know the victory of moving a muscle after being told that I would never walk again. But, I do know the feeling of being helpless and hopeless and seeing the benefit to persevere. More than anything, I know the feeling of watching the underdog make weight and take the title.
I think of them. I think of the times we find ourselves locked inside of our own shitty madness.
We submit to self-pity. We complain about our “Park Avenue” problems.
I say this as a means to find motivation. I say this because I know enough people like Richie. I knew enough about misery. At this point, I need to know more about becoming a champion. I want to know more about the value of creating a dream and watching this come to fruition. There are no more excuses.
There is no more time to waste. There is only now, which is this very moment.
Now is the time where we have to come to our “Eureka!” moment and say:
I’ve found it.