Memories From the Balcony – Unbroken

There are a thousand things that you will see and hear. There will be things you’ll taste and things that you’ll smell.
These things will last forever. This is good, trust me.

There will always be life ongoing and unfolding because life will always happen, right in front of us.
You are going to see things that are beyond belief. You will encounter moments that go beyond comprehension. While this might not be easy, life will still happen whether we agree with it or not.

Not everything will be good. I get that.
But not everything will be bad either.
We need to understand this too.
To us, some things will be lifesaving.

For example –
You are going to hear music. This will help you and that’s good.
This will capture moments and keep them pristine.
The songs that you hear and the tunes that bring you back to your days of greatness will be perfect anthems that live on in your mind. They’re going to make you want to dance.
You’re going to want to sing out loud.
Do this!
You’re going to find a song or a tune that sticks with you.
This is good.
This is really good.

By the way, fate plays tricks on us.
Fate has a way of finding us when we need it most and then, out of nowhere, there’s a sign or a song that comes on the radio. I laugh now too because I’m thinking of a television show from more than 20 years ago which opened up with the song, “I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over.”
I think of the people who matter to me and of those who matter the most because they mean everything to me and to them I say this – please hold on. Please be patient with me.
I’m not going anywhere because not even death could keep me away from you.
(Thanks to you.)

There are going to be moments in your life when you face the mirror.
You’ll look and you’ll be unsure of what you see.
Trust me, this is common.
You will experience doubt.
Make no mistake about this.
You will have bouts of guilt and shame.
This is common too. Believe me, it is.
As a matter of fact, there will be times when you wonder if something is wrong with you.
You’ll wonder if this is you and that you might be crazy.

Aside from this being common as well, I’d like to invite you to a new level of understanding.
I want to invite you to understand this: Crazy people don’t think that they’re crazy.
Oh, and stupid people never think that they’re stupid.
They think they’re smart.

The reason why we judge ourselves so harshly is because we want better – and we know we are capable of more. We know that we can do better. Yet, in our off moments of weakness when things aren’t going so well, we face ourselves with an unfair judgment. Why?
It’s because we know that we are capable of more.

Judgment . . .  It’s a real bitch.

You are going to be let down. You are going to see disappointments.
You’re going to hear the word “no” when you really need to hear the word “yes.”
Guess what?
This happens a lot. 

You will meet people who are going to inspire you. Even the so-called bad people are going to inspire you.
Everyone in your life is a source of inspiration and motivation.
But understand something, motivation and inspiration are only forms of energy.
And know this: energy is nothing without direction. 

Understand that your mind is a conduit.
Your mind is a switch. It sets the direction of flow, like a series of pathways and highways with traffic lights, stops signs, warnings and cautionary signs that direct traffic like crossing guards on the street. 

Understand something:
Our biases and our judgments are part of our directional thinking.
This is the mind.
This is how we accept and process our daily life.
This is our interpretation of our challenges and obstacles
This is our ability to resolve or resign.
But more to the fact, the direction of our thinking and our relationship with our mind is the deciding factor as to whether we succeed and achieve, or we fail to launch or embark on a new journey.

I understand resentments.
I understand them all too well.
I understand the cognitive and mental traps.
I understand the thinking errors and emotional distortions.

I know what it’s like to be hurt and seem almost incomplete; as if something important is missing.
I know what it means to always question “self” and I mean this in an ongoing nature to the point where there’s no sleep or freedom from anticipation.
I understand the misunderstandings of internal value.
I say this because for years I was unaware of my real worth. Therefore, I allowed myself to be traded for a quality that matched the lowness of my self-esteem.

Think about this:
When we talk about inspiration or motivation, we forget that it is possible to be inspired or motivated to go in a direction that contradicts our best needs.
We can be intimidated. We can be afraid.
And trust me, fear and I go back as far as I can remember.

Social awkwardness, physical and social discomforts, insecurity, overthinking and frustration are all understandable to me. 
Anger is another one. So is hopelessness.
But before we go down and sink in the hole of despair once more, we have to come to a realization that this is a direction.

We have to understand that fear and pain are excellent motivators.
This can either punish us and keep us in submission or this can lift us up to say two of the most empowering words in the English language: NO MORE!

There is something that no one talks about or teaches us.
The truth is we want what we want and we want it now – right?
But life is not aligned with our wants and needs.

No, this has to be up to us.
Life is going to hurt you.
People are going to let you down and dammit all, I have to say this here, there will be people in your life who you love the most and in the times when you need them most, – dare I say it, they are the ones who showed up the least.
I have been guilty of this myself.
I know I have.

This will not be consistent with everyone; however, out of everyone I’ve met and to those who had trauma or hardcore challenges in their life – the people who they depended on most were there for them the least.

Even me . . .
I can see where my love and my efforts had failed those who I love and care for. This is not a representation of my love (or the lack thereof) but more accurately, this means that even though my heart is full and my intention is always there; I know that I am flawed and capable of mistakes.
But I can recoup.
I am also capable of recovering.
I have the ability to improve and to acknowledge my faults.
So, therefore, rather than sink in the hole of regret, I can choose a new direction.
I can choose to recover.
I can choose to improve and to amend my past.
I can make a choice to repair myself so that I can leave my past behind me.

I understand the cognitive model. I know that I am a combination of my past and I am partly assumption and partly fear. I am part bias and part defense.
I understand the models and how they range from childhood and follow us up to the here and now.
All we are is a combination of lessons and memories.
We’ve learned to become who we are. Oh, and facts can be misinterpreted and misconstrued by the elements of our emotion.
We can be mistaken.
We can be mistaught or misdirected.
We can also come to a heightened level of awareness and realize that maybe the lessons we’ve learned were inaccurate.

Maybe our life isn’t what we think it is – and then again, neither is our failure.
Neither are the mistakes we make because when it comes to our mistakes, I invite you to remember something:
We make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make us.

We can move in any direction we choose.
We can improve at any given moment.
No one can stop us from this – except for us.

Why do I tell you this?
What does this have to do with nostalgia or memories from the balcony?

I have lived in the capsule of my mind for way too long.
I have lived in the errors of my thinking and while caged in the ideas of rejection or rejective assumptions, I believed in my weaknesses more than my strengths.
I believed in my doubts more than I ever believed in my faiths.
I have been both a prisoner and warden. Yet, in my dreams to be free, I stayed in my own mental cages because I was too afraid of the unknown. It was me who kept me from spreading my wings.
But like the song says: I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over.

I was afraid of the work.
I was afraid of the letdowns that might come.
I was tired of knocking on doors and no one would answer.

I go back to that idea of being a salesman.
I remember when I was doing door-to-door sales, which is brutal by the way.

I worked with a man who kept telling me, you’re one door away from making a big sale.
Every “no” brings you closer to a “yes.”
The process, however, can be grueling. More importantly, without the ingredients and the ability to endure, it’s really easy to give up.

The difference between champions and ordinary people has nothing to do with the win/loss column.
No, the difference here is more inspiring.
Champions lose but they never give up.
They never quit.
They never lose their intensity or their intention.

Not all champions have the same quality – but one quality that remains is that regardless of how the game is played and no matter what the scoreboard says, a champion will not give up.
They will not stop.
They will play every second with every ounce of integrity. This is not about the paycheck or their money.
This is not about a team win or loss – this is because no matter what happens; a champion will not allow anything to beat them.
This is not about getting their names in the paper. This has nothing to do with fame or outside recognition.
No, this is all internal.
This is a drive which comes from a quality that has been nurtured above all tragedies. 

Life hurts. I get that.
But so does victory.
However, the pain we feel and the victories we achieve make all the discomforts unobjectionable.
This makes everything worthwhile and suddenly . . .
We forget the pain the minute we cross the finish line.

I have never been much of an athlete.
I’ve never been much for team sports, per se.
But I do know what it means to have to compete.
I know where my competition belongs now.
I know the value of my time and the levels of my worth are now to the point where I can say this to you –
I have lived a long life and found myself lost and missing.
I have fallen more than I can count but apparently, I’ve found ways to get back up again.

Ever since I was young, I’ve heard people tell me about my capabilities.
I’ve heard about the predictions which left me short of my true effectiveness.
I’ve been counted out before.
I’ve had people rooting against me.
Do you know what this is?
It’s all bullshit!
These are just distractions. 

I can get up and move.
I can grow.
I can improve.
I may not be tough.
I may not have all the answers.
But I do know that life is always going to happen.
I’ll make mistakes
And so will you.
I’ll say the wrong things
And you will too.

I know that it’s time to let the old math go.

– In the summer of 91, I listened to a table of people from an outside room.
What I mean is they didn’t know that I could hear them.
They were talking about their predictions of people.
I was one of them. 

They predicted that I was going to fail.
More accurately, they said I’d be dead.

Well, yesterday, I ordered a special gift for myself
It’s a special coin that acknowledges 32 years of my time in a special lifestyle.

This means 32 years without giving into an old pastime of mind-altering substances.
This also means 32 years since a nearly tragic end.
This acknowledges 32 years since I woke up on the floor after a self-imposed death sentence.
But –
I’m still alive.
This means for 32 years, no matter what the scoreboard looked like, I showed up to the big game and played every moment with all that I have. 

32 years . . .

Dear Pop,

I wish you could see this.
I know that we got off to a rough start.
I know that you weren’t around to see my recovery or to see what’s become of me.
People tell me that you can see me now- and some say that you can see me through eyes that are clearer than before.
I think I like that idea.

Either way, I have come to the understanding that I had to unlearn what I had learned.
I have come to the understanding that this stems from different challenges from my past.
I’ve learned about the cognitive theory and how this works, which I understand now.  

I’m improving, one day at a time.
I just wish you could be at one of my presentations.
Just one . . . that’s all.
I wish you could see how the kids react to me.
I make 32 years at the end of this month, Pop.

I’m sending this out into the universe with hopes that it reaches you.
If not, I hope that this reaches where my heart cannot touch yet.
I hope that this proves that my love and my spirit may not be perfect, but none of this can ever be broken
(unless I give in).

I love you,

B –

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