Just a Thought, Just Because – This is My “Why”


What I am about to share with you is in some ways career suicide because
while I supposedly work in an updated world of diversity, equity and yes,
inclusive ideas that are supposed to help bring people together
instead of marginalize or separate us as different – the truth is,
I have my feet in different worlds.

I wear different uniforms for different tasks.
Depending upon the hour, I wear a blue collar and a white
yet there is other work that I do, like this for example,
which is neither determined by the color of my collar or defined
by education or degrees on the wall.

Instead, rather than dance my dance or talk about the different roles
I’ve played in corporate boardrooms or the tasks I’ve pulled
in engine rooms and machine rooms as an operating engineer,
there is another side to me which is this side,
which is the most humbling side of me as well as a modest side
because the one thing I’ve learned
is that I have so much to learn.
In fact, we all do.

I know that in many case, I know nothing at all.
I know that my view is only limited to what I can see or understand
and that to pretend to know is a disservice to anyone around me,
including myself.

I know that leaders who do not listen to their teams are not leading at all;
but more, they are only dictating which is not leading a team but demanding
that they see, think, believe or feel the same way.
That’s just not the case and more obviously – this just doesn’t work!

Something I take seriously is the fact that we live in a dying world
and that so much of the death is amplified
and life is hardly magnified or should I say life is not and has not
been glorified to its needed perspective.

We focus on the doom and gloom because this sells news and give ratings
to reporters who are looking to improve station earnings.

We talk about the problems. We argue about the solutions.
We talk about politics. We blame and we point fingers.
I can’t do this anymore.
Instead, I let people argue.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here doing something to make a change
instead of arguing over there, to over-report and under-deliver.

I have been part of different initiatives. I have offered my time, energy,
and, in some cases, my sweat, my tears and my heart because to be honest,
I don’t like what I see.

I am an advocate. I am also a person who has been on either side
of the table when it comes to mental health – or better yet,
in the world of mental illness, I am someone who has been on both
sides of the table here as well.

I can say that I’ve sat on both sides of the interrogation tables
and while my history is unique to my experience
and since this only belongs to me, I would rather do something than argue.
I would rather end the comparison that keeps us “different” and find something
so at last, maybe we can relate.

I would rather be a soldier and fight back than argue with local leaders
or bicker at school boards and instead of talk about the problems,
I would rather roll up my sleeves and work on the solution
because, believe me, I don’t need to be right.
I just don’t want to see the world go on like this – not for another minute,
let alone for another day –


I don’t generalize nor do I sympathize or analyze. 
Instead, I allow people to be who they are because above all,
I have no right nor authority to change a person’s being or belief system.
I have no right to dictate or determine anyone’s life –
or hardships.

I have no right to tell a person what’s been fair for them or not
because, in fairness, I have not lived their life nor have they lived mine.
I do not believe in the common preaching of an on-the-level equality
because I do not believe that people believe their treatment is equal.

I do not believe that we are equal
because we all have unequaled talents and abilities.
I do not believe nor have I seen a true sense of psychological safety
because how can anyone be psychologically safe if they have to be guarded –
and, believe me, I don’t care who you are, where you come from,
what color you are, what God you pray to – the topics of “othering”
are abound and flourishing.

I say this happens to the point
where our ability to connect with one another is diminishing
and worse, I see this simply from a mental health perspective
which is sinking like a ship with countless souls leaping to their deaths
to escape what might come next.

Therefore, I question how can anyone of any background
or belief be free if they have to guard themselves
or worry about an opposition or adversaries?

This is why I never “tell” anyone what to think or to believe.
I listen. I look to understand instead of argue or make corrections.
Besides, who wants to be told what to think or feel or how to believe?
How does this help anyone?
I listen to hear instead of listening to respond and furthermore,
I reject anything or anyone who pigeonholes me
or stereotypes who I am in connection with who they are
which, to them, allows them to assume who I should be.

I have no right to judge or pretend to know what someone else
has experienced in their life. I don’t bother with this.
This does not breed comfort; but instead, this only breeds contempt,
which is why I have chosen to listen instead of respond.
I have chosen to learn rather than interpret. 

I came to this idea, which is to define who I want to be in this world.
Hence; this is my “Why”
I decided to find my passion, which is on me.
This is my job.
I decided to enter into a fight which I have been part of
for a very long time. 

I remember my interview.
Why do you want to be a recovery specialist?
I said, “Because I don’t like bullies.”
As I see it, mental illness is a bully.
As I see it, mental illness has destroyed families.
Depression takes lives.
Anxiety kills.
The recovery world has become a booming business.
“Heads in beds,” is what I’ve heard and so long as there’s a head in each bed,
a business can thrive.

Back when I was locked up for the first time, I listened to a few jailhouse lawyers say
justice is what you can afford.
Oh yeah?
Well, so is healthcare . . .

“Why do you think you would be a good fit?”

There was a time when nobody wanted to help me.
There was a time when I truly believed
that nobody cared and that if I died, it wouldn’t matter.
I used to think this was just life.
But I was wrong.
People helped me – even when I didn’t deserve it
They were there.
I want to be like them


Mathias –

He was different from me in every sense of the word.
I had white skin, pale as ever and mainly green at the time
because my meals were different back then.
I think I weighed about 80 lbs. when I entered into treatment.
I am white. Mathias was black.
I came from a different environment.
He grew up in a different background.

Either way, both Mathias and I ended up in the same spot
for the same reason and while perhaps our reasons for “escape”
were not the same, still, both he and I had a habit
that was killing us both.

Rehab . . .
It’s amazing who you can meet here.

I was early in my time at this treatment facility.
It was summer. I was young.
Mathias was older and tired.
Only, my tiredness grew too heavy and in my despair –
I tried to end my life with an unsuccessful attempt. 

Everyone knew what happened to me because an ambulance came
to take me away. Everyone understood because, in a way,
we all went through life – white, black, Spanish, or whatever background we had,
we all had something that brought us to where we were –
in treatment. 

Mathias, a man who was so different from me,
sat with me when the hospital allowed me to return to the facility.
He sat with me, a grown strong man, stronger than any man I have ever met yet
he showed decency and a tenderness in a way
kinder than my ignorance allowed me to believe would be possible.
Somehow, he knew everything I thought and felt.
Somehow, he was able to “get me” and
I wondered how?

How could he understand if we are so incredibly different?
I tried to hang myself
I tried to end my life.
He sat with me all through the night.
He was Fatherly and Brotherly but more –
he was like a protector and, at minimum, my brand new best friend –

He told me
I don’t ever want to see you in this place again . . .

I kept my word. I stayed clean
As for Mathias, unfortunately, the reason why he understood me all too well
was because he had been on both sides of the table too.
He saw too much.
He hurt too often and one night, too lonely,
Mathias decided to end his life.

He saved me.
Not because I was white or he was black.
We put that to the side, both he and I, and instead
we talked like family talks to each other.
This is why I cannot allow his kindness to go unpaid for
This is why I chose to do what I do
To pay it forward and to keep a word to my friend

Color, race, life, background and culture has nothing to do with this

Sleep well, my man.
I hope I’ve made you smile a few times if at all; but more,
I hope I carried what you’ve taught me well –
and shone a light for someone else who could not see. 


All the trouble you see starts to make you wonder if anything was worth it –
the old master of the house (AKA: The Cops) is driving by slowly
to disrupt the jesters in the courtyard.
Meanwhile a man on the corner is standing beneath
the old limestone brick above the stoop at the brownstone of choice.

These are the spots. These are the places and yes,
these are the infected playgrounds which have spread outward
into all communities, including those who dare it all and claim,
“Not my kid,” or to the places where parents
talk out loud at their PTA meetings and shout,
“Not in my backyard!”
But it’s here too. In fairness, it’s everywhere.

This is all due to a life decayed by a toxin that degraded all the world
and caused weeping mothers to cry over the loss of their child.
It is, of course, a moment in the east, a nightfall,
which took place hours before and the children of the streets,
stood at their posts or awaited their buys.
And stigma, you say?
Sure, there’s a stigma. There’s an us and a them.
There’s the infector and the infected.
There’s a business that keeps on growing and hopes that keep on dwindling.

Meanwhile, you have everyone you can think of – people from everywhere
and from all walks of life –
all of them are looking for something to eat via the meals of an injectable kind,
which is both meatless and fruitless and still,
the searching midnight and the hours that came later are like the rotations in factory mills –
always on, always moving, always looking to make a deal
and, of course, always looking to infiltrate a new territory
to find a new customer – which is why,
of course,
the first hit is always free.

I have seen people withering and nodding,
slowly spinning downwards in the hypnotic stand-still of suspended animation,
and then pop, as if the light went back on and just like that –
they stood back up or went back to the upright position
and then they moved on about their business.

It is an infection. It is a life and a habit and otherwise,
this is also something unforgettable and unmatchable.
But as well, this is also indescribable, that is, of course, unless you already know –
because if you know then nothing else needs to be explained. 

“Billy” was an old friend who knew me “When.”
He and I went back a long time, or as the saying goes,
“We went back like car seats,” and
although we don’t know each other now, there is still a sense of kindredness.

There’s still a bond or an unspoken understanding
which needn’t be mentioned, except for here in a sense
because how else does one explain a moment without
unearthing the roots to their story.

I saw Billy standing in a place where nothing good happens.
I saw him nodding and fading and somewhat mumbling to himself.
I approached.
He didn’t recognize me
At first . . .
“I don’t know you AT ALL” he said,
as if to distance himself from a possible run in
with some kind of law enforcement
or otherwise, unwanted task of talking to someone
who lives outside of his game.

It didn’t take more than a second for him to realize that yes,
he did know me.
“Benny, man!”

It’s been a long time . . .
Sure it has.
Some things change
and other things – Not so much. 


I was at a funeral back in the old neighborhood.
It was strange because some people didn’t recognize me
which is fine because this only proves that they never really knew me.

I saw someone who I used to make “runs” with.
He was making fun of me
asking if I was some kind of doctor, as if this was intended to be an insult –

I thought about this for a second.
Is this really a challenge?

We used to honor the gangsters and the so-called bad guys
and romanticize and glorify crime, as if it were cool
I’m not that person at all anymore.
But again, some things change
Some things don’t

I have learned that there are people who refuse
to allow you to change in their world.
There will always be someone
looking to talk bad about you.
There will always be someone in a position
who looks to hold you back or keep you down.
I don’t care which field this is in. I don’t care how wealthy someone is.
I don’t care about politics or who someone voted for. 

All I know is that people are going to talk however they choose
but me; I cannot allow this to become my narrative.
I cannot allow myself to give in to the influence
of others because the day I do
is the day I forfeit my future to someone else.

And me, I’ve forfeited enough.
Now it’s my turn to live
and have my life

And that’s why I’m still here.
It’s not because I’m lucky or privileged or because I was spared.
I had to work for this
And for now, just for now; I’m going to end here and take a deep breath

Dear Mathias;

I wept in your arms like a child and you didn’t judge me once.
I’m not so strong.
But one day, I want to be as strong as you,
my very special old friend

Rest well wherever you are

Thank you

B –

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