For every failure, there is a story. I recently had the opportunity to speak with a man about the suffering souls addicted to a host of substances. He was a professional working in the field of harm reduction. (1) The outside observer surely questions why an individual would throw their life needlessly away. This can only be because you believe that it has no value, there is no possibility of redemption or self-growth.
From where does such thinking emanate? Many times it is expressed in the form of regrets. I committed some egregious error in life and have been unable to move past it, to put it behind me. Whatever crime of the past that congregates in your mind sears no permanent scar in the present unless you deem it to have power, to have value.
In this regard, the great writer O. Henry (2) is surely an example. He went to jail for a period of time during his early life and then turned that misfortune into a successful literary career. All of us suffer as human beings. It is the gift and the curse of free will and being 100% responsible for our actions. That said, because of the fragility of life itself, and the realization that it is given but once in this reality, it is nothing short of stupid to not get over our mistakes and move forward in life.
We are asked to understand that some people are not as strong or entitled as we are. They didn’t grow up in good families, were from the wrong race, ethnicity, religion — the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, where you sit in life is the reality that you must deal with, regardless of its antecedents. We would, of course, have to remove the mentally ill from this equation. Notwithstanding, most people are not clinically sick or depressed. (3) This leaves the rest of us being responsible for our own actions.
How does the individual overcome his angst, his state of funk? I must do one of the most difficult and trying efforts of all — I must act, I must get started. Many times at the beginning of consciousness, a simple statement is made: I don’t know where I am going in life. This is quite alright. Through action, all will be revealed. To initially pull yourself out of a state of inertia, to begin your self-growth, it is essential to develop a routine. When you wake up, make your bed. This closes the night and opens the day. Then, write in your notebook: write your hopes, your dreams, your fears — just write! Document the beautiful you, as I like to say. The great philosopher and poet, Khalil Gibran (4) leaves us with a thought: Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.
A closing thought: This focus on the self is not about vanity or glorification of my being. It is simply stating a fact. The substance abuser, in the end, isn’t cured by external forces, he is cured by himself. (5) I am the master of my reality. As vainglorious as it sounds, it is simply the truth. I am sure that the millions of broken and dispossessed beings each have a tragic chronicle. Even sadder is the realization that my own salvation is always with me and within my grasp. I simply have to work to realize that it is there and make the effort to start my personal journey of growth.
To sum up: This week we spoke about self-growth and how, ultimately, it is the responsibility of the individual.
To be noted: From Benjamin Disraeli (6) — Life is too short to be little. You must enlarge your imagination and then act on it.
Just for fun:
Every day look for something magical and beautiful.
Quote: Wake up and be aware of your journey in life!
2) O. Henry