“All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.” — Amelia Barr
At school there was a girl who had a name that stuck in my mind for whatever reason, the other day it just popped up in my mind so I thought I’d check out what she was up to these days.
I didn’t really know her, but she seemed like a decent person.
Where I grew up there wasn’t much hope for those who wanted success. To work and be a productive member of society meant you were kind of a loser.
The local people you could look up to were either famous athletes or criminals. If you didn’t have the skills for some sport, well, there was always door number two.
We did have some famous entertainers and musicians, and I looked up to them. I found my expression through music. However, I also shoplifted, stole, and broke into places. You could say I was hedging my bets in case the music thing didn’t pan out.
Sometime during high school I stopped. I think it’s because I went to a different school than my friends, so we weren’t hanging out as much. I went all in on music. It would come to lead me down another dark path, but stealing for a living wasn’t in the books for me anymore.
From what I can remember the girl, let’s call her Dee, was a good student who didn’t make any trouble, and looked to have a bright future ahead of her.
I don’t think many people would’ve expected Dee’s story to unfold the way it did.
Apparently she’d been caught with about a million in cash belonging to two “financial sharks”. She denied being involved in the embezzlement, claiming that it was a gift from her boyfriend. Not surprisingly, the judge didn’t buy her story.
As I read this I got shivers, and thought back to school.
Had there been a snapshot taken of us around the age of 15, it would’ve been easy for anyone to predict with a fair degree of certainty who was headed for prison and who was going to succeed.
At 15 she had a strong hand. Some of it by luck, but mostly by hard work.
At 15 I had a weaker hand. Some of it luck of the draw, most of it because of an unwillingness to work for it.
I don’t know what happened in her life that put her on the road to where she is today. I can only guess that she got caught up in the torrents of negative influence that I somehow managed to leave behind.
What if we take a snapshot now?
Sure, the tables have turned. But do we really want to bet on what the outcome will be in the next 15–20 years?
I feel confident that I’m not going back on the path I left all those years ago. But I also know that I’m not completely immune to it either.
I don’t know how the future will unfold, and I can’t give a 100% guarantee that I won’t find it easier to revert back to those old behaviors if I’m backed into a corner.
For all we know Dee might turn her experiences into a book in a few years, or go lecture around the world about how to safeguard yourself against embezzlement.
Regardless of what she does, I hope she does something productive.
I’m telling you this because if you have a great life, make sure to take a minute right now and be grateful for it. You’ve probably worked hard and earned it, but know that all the good things you have now are a blessing.
I’m also telling you this because if you’re not happy with where you’re at right now, you aren’t sentenced to it. While not everything is in your control, you do have control over some things.
Focus on the things you do have control over. The people you hang out with, how you spend your time, the choices you make, the things you fill your head with.
If you don’t like the influence certain people have over you, stop hanging out with them. If you’re not doing anything productive with your time, try shit out and find things you enjoy that activate your body and mind. If you’re not happy with your choices, start making different ones. If the shows you watch, books you read, and music you listen to don’t fill you up with good vibes, find things that do.
Now, I’d be lying if I said that there aren’t consequences to those choices. It’s hard to leave friends behind, it’s scary to try new things, might not afford to maintain the lifestyle you have now, you can feel lonely and afraid, and so on.
The thoughts floating around my head right now are how incredibly lucky I am, that I hope people in Dee’s situation, or headed in Dee’s direction, can find some ray of hope, and realize that their story isn’t over.
The last page isn’t written yet.
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