Just look at this pathetic skinny little malnourished asshole. He’s been flat broke, forgotten about and homeless off and on the past two years. He barely got by in a technical high school with Bs and Cs. He couldn’t afford to go to prom so his friends chipped in and helped make it happen. When he was seventeen, he worked two jobs in High School and drove his unregistered and uninsured 1982 Volkswagen he lived in off and on until the engine threw a rod and finally died right there in front of the entrance to the old Chrysler plant in Newark, Delaware. He grabbed a couple Prodigy CDs, his Discman an old leather bag and waved goodbye to that part of his life.
You guessed it, that’s me I’m talking about and I’m glad my car broke down. I fucking hated that car. On cold days that car smelled like a wheelchair seat. On hot days that car smelled like the inside of a fake leg. It leaked oil, had no air conditioning and got like 15 miles per gallon. That’s terrible for those of you that don’t know. I had to abandon that pile of crap although it was one of my last possessions of any value to me. Losing that resource forced me to seek out new resources. New ways of getting around. I’m thankful for the fact I had to be more resourceful than other seventeen-year olds. I got up 90 minutes earlier every day after that event and from then on I rode the bus to where I needed to go, shared rides with a neighbor who worked the same place I did 45 minutes away from where I was staying and showered friends with weed and gas money to get around.
Back in the mid 90s the only people who had portable phones carried a huge expensive brick and that stupid looking pager (beeper) clipped to my belt was definitely not turned on. To be honest, it is incredible I found someone willing to pick me up from the restaurant I walked a couple miles to after my car broke down. The record heat and humidity that day were a strong foreshadow to what I would experience years later in the Arab nation. Only then, I would be carrying an additional 40 lbs of armor and weaponry. That summer day roasted me. Back in the days of listening to new songs by The Offspring and Sublime, instantly getting ahold of someone just out of the blue did not happen. Initiating a rescue for me was a process and I understood it wasn’t instant. Back then we seemed to understand a lot better people have things going on other than what we think is immediately important in our own lives. After 4 hours of trying to get ahold of someone and already being a no-show at one of my jobs I finally arrived back at the apartment I shared with my friend feeling heat-exhausted, hungry and defeated. I immediately began making a list of things I needed to do next.
After I walked away from that oil-leaking circumstance in my life I quickly realized asking people for transportation was going to make me a burden to others in a very short amount of time. It was right after this event I began visiting military recruiters, as they rarely visited schools. Joining the military or even following a path that even remotely resembled doing something different than the herd of impressionable minds in my Delaware high school was akin to letting “THE MAN” take over my life. Years later other than realizing there really is no “MAN” who has control over my life I came to the conclusion the majority of these people believing these self-defeating bullshit concepts were just upset someone came up with an idea different than theirs that might actually be worthwhile.
I don’t visit Delaware often.
I kept hearing college was the magic-pill that would endow me with a life I saw most of my friends and their families living. Parents still together, a nice house where everyone got along. I believed reliable transportation came with a life like that. People got together on Sundays and went to church rather than getting ready for a double-shift if you could just somehow go to college and follow this mystical path society kept painting a pretty little picture of while trying to convince me I would never be able to afford it. To a degree, I had bought into the idea I would never achieve the life I wanted because of some mythical creature I’d never seen holding me back. But I realized something very important when I left Delaware for the military. I realized very clearly, I was changing my circumstances through my own actions and not expecting my life to change simply as the result of someone else’s pity or welfare. I refused to be a part of the statistics I kept hearing about during school assemblies in the auditorium. I wanted to do my own thing without anyone feeling sorry for me.
One of the vice principals at my school knew my situation. He knew I bounced from home to home for a while and I worked a lot. He was a very large and muscular black man who let you know immediately who was boss. He was known for being very strict and would not hesitate to discipline you on the spot. He rarely visited his office, as the whole school was his office. I had met people I looked up to before but this man was like staring at a lion on the prowl when he walked through the halls. He had purpose and conviction in everything he did. He was an absolute role model for me and I practically worshipped him. He looked people in the eye and spoke slowly, softly and with the force of a freight train behind his words. He was the first of many African alpha-male role models I would have in my life and to be honest, he set the standard for me on what a role model was supposed to look and act like. Throughout my life I have always sought role models in a certain frame based on that man. As a result of my experiences thus far, people in my life would be quite surprised at my criteria for being a role model. It’s incredibly easy to achieve yet nearly impossible to maintain.
Ponder that one, internet.
My vice principal was a very hard man but he was fair. He told me straight up a life in the military would be a wise choice for a kid like me. My vice principal knew what I was doing and he knew how much I worked and he knew how hard I struggled to maintain passing grades so I could get the Hell outta there. That man knew my situation and knew the limitations of what he could do to help me with my circumstances. Although it defied all logic in my mind at the time, my vice principal bent a LOT of rules for me. If I was absent from school the second half of the day even though my permitted co-op time had elapsed he said NOTHING. The paperwork always somehow got lost and I was able to make the money I needed to stay afloat and finish high school. He dismissed me from school on days I needed to route my recruitment paperwork. He personally drove me to and from the recruiter’s office once. This man sacrificed his own personal time above and beyond his call of duty to ensure I didn’t become another statistic. My High School had already been recently rocked with the loss of several students during an unfortunate car accident. I didn’t believe anyone would miss pathetic me nearly as much as those amazing kids were missed.
When I joined the military I didn’t tell many friends for reasons I mentioned above. The few who knew I was joining got together and threw a small going-away event for me with a fully satisfied list of required-items I would need before leaving for Basic Training. The rest of the people who saw me last before I vanished without a trace would attest to a fun bonfire I went to and later found out the girl I was kissing that night had a very upset guy friend who owned the car she and I sat on the hood of and made out. Throughout High School I was a skinny pimple-faced malnourished dork that spent most lunches in the library because there was no other place I felt comfortable sitting. That night before I left for the military I was different. I mean I was still physically the same person I had been months prior but for some reason girls wanted to talk to me. Other people wanted to talk to me and it felt so very unique and incredible. Other dudes were giving me beers and cheering me tonight but for some reason previously didn’t even want to even look in my direction. No one there knew I was leaving for the military in the morning. That night through a slim chance I ended up at that party with people I thought were way above my life status and I was having the time of my life with. What was going on?
I did not know it at the time but this would end up becoming an event in my life I studied intrinsically. I wanted to know what it was about me that night that magically permitted me to have such a great time and seemed like I was suddenly sliding along in life as if I was on ice. I can easily sit here at my desk years later I can tell you without even having to think why I was having a great time and making out with girls and partying like it’s the roaring 1920s. That night had everything to do with how I was feeling and believing about myself and actually very little to do with the other people in attendance.
That night before I left for basic training I was confident and I had my execution. I did all of my paperwork to join the military. I got copies of my birth certificate and social security card, I got to all my medical and admin appointments satisfied. I finished high school and I was embarking on my journey. I was traveling to San Antonio Texas to figure out who I am supposed to be. Oh yes, in 2019 I can very easily tell you why my experience at a party that night in Delaware happened and how I have been able to make that experience a more regular thing.
The execution and feelings of belonging, not the making out with a chick. Get your minds out of the gutter people.
When I was able to fulfill my list of tasks and enter the military I accomplished a major achievement in my mind. I was going to be creating an exciting new life. As a reward of this exciting new opportunity my body went into overdrive releasing lengthy doses of dopamine into my brain which made me feel good. When we feel good about accomplishing something, we naturally gain confidence, smile and slow down into our frame of mind because we want more. Its like a drug! Most others unconsciously gravitate toward people who are displaying confidence and happiness because that is inherently what we desire the most. While my newfound confidence was unfamiliar and alien to me it was still infectious to others nonetheless. For years I couldn’t seem to ever fully process that night on the beach and I needed to understand what “black magic” was at play.
Trainwrecks, I can tell you there was no magic at work here. This is human behavior. This is simply people reacting to the way others are displaying their mindset. If we act respectful and joyful toward others, those people will almost always treat you with respect and joy in return because we tend to treat others the way we desire them to treat us. Sure there are anomalies to this but it is quite reasonable to believe life is full of assholes that are best ignored. When we give ourselves permission to be someone that brings joy to the reality of others, people will try to fill their lives with that type of vibe. This is merely one small example of the laws of attraction.
I sit here years later pondering certain events that occurred in my life and although I didn’t realize it during the times I was the happiest; I felt the most alive during the times I wasn’t worried about someone else. I wasn’t worried about the unknowns of tomorrow. I was aware but I didn’t let it bother me nonstop because I accepted the realities of the unknown. I resolved myself to do what I needed to do to achieve that next goal even though I had no idea I was framing my mind toward my goals. I was framing my existence to be something I wanted to be, not framing it based off someone else’s standards or life and what they wanted to do. I was only worried about me. What a time for me to be alive!
That’s me after Basic Training in that picture above. I was full of piss and vinegar. Scared to fail, full of hopes and dreams and well aware I had a lot to learn. I yearned to earn respect not just from others but from myself as well and I knew what I had to do. I have concluded respect is not something people give frivolously or on-command. Respect is a reward for endurance. I have learned you cannot earn respect without others seeing how you overcame adversity and survived punishment. After I joined the military I quickly saw there would be years of sacrifice and punishment as a reward for my sacrifice and punishment. I realize very few will understand what I mean when I say that or why anyone would strive to make that a regular part of their life. We often get punished and ridiculed by non-members when we try to be a part of something they do not wish to be a part of. We might get told we are worthless or any other colorful measure of being verbally spat upon simply for choosing to follow a path someone else does not agree with. That is the price we pay when we decide to break free from a life where we were told we cannot achieve anything without some other self-loathing loser giving us permission to achieve and be happy. Embrace the ridicule. Deal with the ridicule. Embrace the unknowns. Deal with the unknowns. Get it done.
You’re Welcome. Internet.