Where I Came From
A brief glimpse back to my past mistakes and how I have gotten where I am today.
Some of you may have grown accustomed to my stories and blogs and some of you have no idea.
Some of you may know me and some of you may not.
When I was a young boy, my life was a simple one, I lived in a small town and my family went to church every Sunday. I was a smart kid and entered school in the 3rd grade. As I entered into my teenage years, everything completely fell apart, the world as I knew it, in its simplicity, suddenly was no longer simple. It was at that time that my parents divorced and soon thereafter, my father was in a terrible motorcycle accident, he was hit by a drunk driver with no drivers license and suffered severe brain damage. I didn't know it at the time, but it would take 10 years for him to heal and for me to get my father back.
As my high school years came, my perception of life changed dramatically, myself, my mother and my 2 siblings moved to a different state and I was struggling with my identity, coping with a broken home and the complexity of an absent father. At the time I did not understand and I became a very angry person. I was mad at the world and most of all, I was angry with God for making my life so different, so difficult. I became mean, I was afraid, so the only thing that I knew to do was to lash out. I became a horrible kid, cunning and uncontrollable. My poor mother could not deal with me and almost 21 years ago to the day, right before Christmas, myself and a couple of buddies stole a car, we got drunk and my friend, who had recently been beaten up by his father, decided that it was time to go, time for all of us to go and he pressed the gas peddle to the floor and flipped us on the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Florida. Both of my friends were ejected from the vehicle that day, the driver died on the scene, but was revived, unfortunately due to severe brain damage he will never be the same. I had my seatbelt on, so I walked away soon to be arrested and booked in the county jail.
Going to jail was a first for me and rather than be afraid, I became more angry and hardened. I embraced the craziness and the reputation that I had gained from being on the morning news and I pushed my chips all in. I was empty inside and I did not know how to fill that void so I began doing hard drugs and fighting and robbing folks. My curse became that I was cunning, and I had an honest face and was able to convince a lot of people that I could do no wrong, but it was the opposite I thought that the world owed me something and it became important to me that everyone in the world felt the same pain that I was feeling.
That summer, I got a place with my friends, a place where we sold drugs, dealt in stolen goods and were surrounded by violence. We would hang in the roughest neighborhoods, in motels and bars, selling drugs and ingesting copious amounts of them, a lot of it is a blur to me. Everytime I stole a car, or robbed a home I justified it by saying "the world owes me". I became a terrible person. I am not exaggerating here, in fact, I am being mild. I have done it all, seriously.
It was right before my 17th birthday, that I got into trouble again, they wanted to lock me up for a while, but I charmed the judge into sending me to a Wilderness Institute in Punta Gorda, Florida. It was there, that I was taught (by some wonderful people) the value of mentors and I was provided some great ones. I graduated school in there, received a scholarship, built a house and later gave speeches before judges and higher ups in society about the value of this program.
I wish I could say that solved all of my problems, but it did not. It wasn't long after leaving the program that I was once again running the streets and dealing with life in the wrong ways. My criminal activity had calmed, or at least became less reckless and I spent early adulthood selling cocaine in bars and clubs and out of gross motels. I always knew inside, that I was a good person, but I rejected that notion and pushed myself to become more hardened and more angry. I would black out drunk and get into fights, with no recollection of it in the morning. One time, I even stole a car and did not realise that I had done it, until a couple days later, when the strange vehicle was still in my driveway, I was a mess.
The first few years of my adult life were spent in a fog, and no one really wanted to be around me. I saw a counselor for my anger, but I could not tame it. I found a mentor, and I went to school and with the help of my girlfriends family, I was able to find some structure in my life. I did well at school, but not so well in my relationships. I could not get a grip on myself and I felt bound by the reputation that I had built for myself and I would frequently get drunk and do terrible things which I would regret later. Even though I had stablized my daily life, I would screw it up and I mean screw it up big time.
Everything that I had taken in, had caused me to become a monster. I began self hypnosis and trying to grasp reality. It took a few years for me to stop reverting to "that life" every time I felt scared or that I was backed into a corner.
Eventually, I got married. I was somewhat stable, at least functioning, but I still was leaning on drugs to fill the void. Daily use of very strong opiates became normal and while I was no longer capable of committing crime, I was pretty focused on self-destruction. I could not live with myself, I could not live with the guilt of my past and my only way of dealing with the memories, was to erase them.
Consequently, my marriage failed, we enabled each other, it was no way to live. The failing marriage continued the theme of guilt and failure. I had never been alone, ever, and that is what I needed to do most. I needed to be 'me' a new 'me' out in the world so that is what I did.
The failing and screwing up did not stop here, but through a lot of reading, alone time, through dealing with my past and with the help of some great mentors, I discovered that I had some talents, I enjoyed the stage and had a way with words. I began writing and sharing my poems and stories with the world, I began to accept who I was, it was then that I began what I like to call "my yogi walk".
My journey began in New Orleans, right after Katrina. I went broke and was sitting in a graveyard with no cash, no job and nowhere to go. I sat there for a long time, fighting with fear and anxiety when I asked God to please help me. I felt trapped again and I did not want to go back down the road of criminal activity for survival.
There had to be a better way.
I sat and I waited, just waited for hours in that graveyard. I refused to move until I could gain a grip on myself. Eventually, a calm came over me and I noticed a large building off in the distance. I was drawn to the building, a bed and breakfast and I simply went up to the desk, asked the man for a job and I was hired. That evening, I was in a quaint room with a city view, sitting there in the large New Orleans window typing away on my laptop.
New Orleans will always be a special place to me. The magic that followed my almost homelessness was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. I felt high on life and my trust in God, or Life was stronger than it had ever been. I began working in the devastated areas, fixing homes and cleaning water lines, I began giving back and life began rewarding me. I was even able to be in a movie, if you look really close, you will notice me in a scene with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". I was on top of the world and life was rewarding me for my good intentions.
Eventually, I screwed up again. My screwups were not as big as they had been when I was, say 17.
My "yogi walk" would take me to Los Angeles, and to Santa Cruz and many other places. I hitchhiked the coast of California with a friend who did 3 tours in Iraq, camping Californias beautiful beaches. I spent a lot of time intentionally putting myself back into situations where I had to trust in God, trust in life, to survive. I refused to do harm to the world around me and in fact, in times of trouble I would do the opposite and try to help my fellow man. Every single time I felt I was backed in a corner, I was rewarded by life for my persistence and the magic ensued. I learned a lot during this walk and I dealt with life in a different way. Over a long period of time I rewired myself, my perceptions and my thinking.
My "yogi walk" is now years in my past, but it is where I learned to see life through a different lens, through many lenses really. It is where I saw other people's hardships and pain and it is where I learned the value of sharing, kindness, love and empathy. It is where I chose my new lens for which I would view the world around me and it changed my whole life in a very permanent way.
Nowadays, when I screw up, it is very minor, compared to the failures of my youth. I can become very hard on myself for merely saying something stupid or that is insensitive. I have fed my conscience and allowed it to grow, I have learned that I have nothing to prove and I have learned that I am "tough" in a very different way. My faith in life, though it still falters from time to time, is very strong and I have a confidence that things will work out in their perfect time. I have learned to just take the ride. I learned these skills through my reading, writing, my experience trusting life and through dispensing good things from my self into the world and then in return, reaping good things.
These days, my life is simple. I am a little fatter, I have a great home, with a big yard and some dogs. I have a fiance who loves me and some wonderful family who always had faith that I would "figure it out". Unconditional love is so very beautiful. Sometimes, I feel like I am a different person than that angry kid from 1996, it's because I am. I have learned to accept who I am, even with all of the bad and to be grateful for EVERY experience, even the ones I dislike. You see, every piece of the puzzle is required to complete the scene, while some have rough edges and some smooth, they all have value. Being grateful for each piece is not always easy, but it is necessary.
There is a lot more to my story, there are many wonderful stories and adventures and there are also some dark ones. Some things can be viewed on my old blog:
I am almost through the first draft of the book. coming in 2016., I also have piles of journals and books full of poetry and writings from my walk. It is my goal to share it all with YOU, regardless of the consequence and hopefully I can help you, which will in return help me.
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