“Would you like to continue?”
Life is such a trip when you start living it differently, prioritizing importance backwards from the way you once did. I’m not going to blame a consumer based economy, vanity on social media, or societal perceptions of wealth and success; but we live in a world where attachment to materials, instant gratification, and acquiring more is the way to the fulfillment we all look search for. Disappointed with lack of satisfaction from the last thing we begin searching for the next one, promised that this is what we’ve been missing. I lived my life this way for so long I couldn’t even conceptualize an alternative resembling taking less and giving more.
How was giving going to fulfill me when I didn’t even have what I wanted? I thought giving back was a byproduct of fulfillment…like rich people giving money to charities because they had an abundance of it. I was so closed off from that perception. I had heard people say it for years and it went one ear and out the other. I think about it now and wonder…wonder how thought that many people were full of shit. What would be their motivation for saying it? I probably thought they were lying to seek validation…because that’s what I would have done.
I had so many material possessions in my 20’s. Everything from expensive condos to an excessive amount of luxury cars. I had over 12 vehicles from 25-30. Someone asked me what success meant when I was 25 years old. My answer said it all, “Having enough money to do whatever I want whenever I want and never having to worry about anything.” Well, that day came…multiple times…and the success always materialized in disappointment and IV drug use. I would ride that train until I incinerated everything I had acquired to ashes, arriving at detox with a brown paper bag full of clothes and maybe some deodorant if I was lucky. I didn’t even care either. In the end, I would’ve spent every last dollar to never put out of my misery.
Divine intervention is the only reason a prolific fuck up like me arrives in a world where contentment, gratitude, and inner peace are no longer an illusion; they’re my reality. Yes, a miracle. I put in a little work but I wouldn’t say I overextended myself by any means. The more I evolved and grew the less I believed it was my own doing…and that’s saying something because I’ll take credit for anything I can. The reason I survived a drug addiction like mine made no sense when others had died for far less. The reason I continued existing in a life I didn’t want seemed senseless. Then shit began to add up a little.
I’ve never seen God work through me directly but I have witnessed His work with those I’ve helped. Climbing out of the smoldering fire of hopelessness they lived in and start breathing; inhaling the air of freedom from the surface they would’ve never found.
Life was once such a lonely, empty, and dark place for me. The course of events that defined it seemed like chaos and made little sense to me. Looking back now everything fits together perfectly…like the pieces of a puzzle uniting to form a masterpiece. One that I was undeserving of but for the grace of God. I don’t mean to insinuate that “God” is the solution for everyone, but the pursuit of a higher calling gives us a purpose beyond any merchant-to-consumer transactions.
Mine was putting others before myself.
I was so fucked at 29 years old. I had lost all hope or belief that my life could change in any meaningful way for an extended period of time. When I got sober the man helping me said something that ultimately altered my perception for long enough to allow the light to pierce through the clouds. He said, “I’m only showing you how to get sober so you can teach someone else.” That was the most foreign concept of recovery I had ever heard. What about me? What about my sobriety? Isn’t it supposed to be about me?
It wouldn’t be too long until I discovered why I had failed for so many years. Not just in recovery, but in life as a whole. I had been of little use to anyone because I was only intent on helping myself and it never panned out. It was only when I had been humbled and lost everything that I began to change. I had nothing to offer anyone except for my time. That’s when I started to understand the value of giving that time to another. I began to hear truths I had ignored, see miracles I was blind to, and sense a God working through the people that saved my life by helping them save theirs. I realized that the greatest purpose I could ever fulfill was helping another as hopeless as me find theirs.
It’s a funny thing receiving in the giving, you always get abundantly more than you are able to give.
The more I prioritized what I could contribute to humanity the less insecurity, fear, and attachment to material possessions dominated my life. The price tag for validation is high and the cost too great for what we’ve actually been sold. The love, empathy, and time I give to another is the most valuable possession I have to offer and in return I’m allowed to continue living in His grace.
I get to continue repaying a debt that will never be settled…although the price of freedom and wisdom came at a great cost, satisfying the debt of fulfillment and gratitude come cheap.