It would be so easy to get swept away by my anger and rage. I could wag my finger in various angry little directions and point out all the flaws in the thinking of others or point out why they’re all just so wrong about me. I could shout defiantly as I draft a master plan of attack guaranteed to get my children back, and fight dirty. Then again, I would also be blindly following this line of thinking without any consideration for the lives of the other people involved, my kids included, and what in the world would that possibly accomplish?

Who takes children away from the only home they’ve ever known on a whim? Only an egotistical madman would interrupt the lives of his children with zero regards for how they might feel about it. So I think back to the person I was on the day I decided to back away and let their Grandmother have them without a fight. That person learned a valuable lesson that day:

“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity.”

Proverbs 16:6 (NKJ)

Admitting just how flawed and messed up we are capable of being is hardly ever an enjoyable experience. Often times, it happens after we’ve spent years honing and crafting each of the masks we wear for society. We all put on such a great show too don’t we? The problem with our masks, however, isn’t the quality of the show we put on but rather how disingenuous it all is. Couple that with how much of ourselves we lose in playing these characters we want the world to associate with us and it’s no wonder we’re all so broken inside. If we can’t honestly love and accept ourselves as we are then how could we every possibly expect others to?

It took me 36 years to learn that lesson. Sitting in the North Tower of the Lew Sterrett Justice Center awaiting the judges final verdict was the first time I ever lifted up my mask. I had crafted my ego carefully over the years. I didn’t smile, that unconscious shoulder tension kept my back rigid, and my eyes drank in the room in with all the precision of a hawks. I respected the rules of the game and kept it player with everyone I messed with. See, I always identified with the underdogs and the goons more than I did with the doctors and lawyers. Which is really weird because of how much I played down my intelligence and surrounded myself with headbusters. The neanderthals you hear about when you listen to really gutter hip-hop. Factor in the martial arts training, my infatuation with firearms, and a criminal knowledge that reached well beyond the average dope boys and I was a pretty respectable OG. Of course the problem was why would a kid from an upper-middle class suburban community set out to live a gangsters lifestyle when he didn’t have to.

Yes, I lived in Southwest Detroit for years and years of my life. Yes a person who can survive there can literally survive anywhere. Ther street culture is one of the most ruthless in the nation but I guarantee that if you asked any one of them what they would have done had they been afforded the same opportunities I was not a single one of them would have chosen crime. So, what damage did my ego suffer that led me down that path by giving me an excuse to act up? The hardship of ghetto life.

See, I propped up on a stack of dama I went through that gave me an excuse to be lazy and squander my talents. I would sell drugs out of my Mothers house in the suburbs and tell her about something God awful that happened at my workplace a few weeks before that justified my actions. Besides, pot isn’t eve a real drug anyways, it’s crack and heroin the police are really concerned with. Sometimes I’d talk to my parents in a really horrifying way and call them all sorts of names. Later on I’d go back and tell them about these abuses that happened that scarred me. They’d understand and we went on like this for years and years.

It worked so well with my parents that I started using the tactic on everyone. I’d play up all the really gritty details of my past to either garner sympathy or get something I wanted. People expect a lot less from you if the projects is all they think you know. They’ll go behind your back and call you a product of your environment and make all sorts of excuses for your bad behaviour. They’d even bond you out of jail assuming you simply didn’t know any better. Of course, all of this was a really tiring way to live. Why? The truth was I hated going in and out of jail and constantly looking over my shoulder.

The older I got the less sociable I became. The less I wanted to go partying and clubbing just to be seen flashing and flossing. Then I hit a point where I simply no longer cared about designer clothes or the latest J’s, for myself anyways, and riding in a factory car no longer bothered me. I was out of the rat race that demanded I put everything on display for the world to see. I had finally realized a simple truth: Nobody cares!

You know what did excite me though? The principles in Dr. Amit Goswami The Self Aware Universe. Imagine sitting in a maximum security cell block with nothing but murderers, rapists, jack boys and psychopaths and all you want to do is talk about quantum mechanics and how it relates to spirituality, Everyone in there only wants to learn how you got on so tight in the game and what they can do when they get out to be the man in their own neighborhood. They crave a bigger ego and a bigger and badder mask to show off to all their homies in the struggle.

There is a wonderful freedom in realizing that everything you had done in life leading up to this point was based on a lie you no longer needed, Sure I was facing life in prison but that 40 year stretch didn’t scare me because I accepted that I deserved to be there. I absolutely had beaten a guy up to protect that fragile little ego that simply couldn’t handle being disrespected even for one second. I mean, how dare he have sex with my ex-girlfriend in my house while I paid the mortgage. He must not know who I am. But think about who I was.

Now let’s look at who I was. A fool about to be sent up the river for fighting over a woman that didn’t want anything to do with him. It gets better, Did I stop this man from doing what he wanted to do? Nope. The two of them continued to live in my home rent free while having sex with one another. So, who lost in that situation? The dude with the big ego.

I honestly believe that I’d still be out there in the streets propping up my ego if I hadn’t allowed humility to take root in my life. 12 steppers say we find our rock bottom when we finally stop digging. The ego dies in a similar fashion. If I hadn’t reached that point where I could no longer protect my ghetto repertoire or live comfortably with the lies I built I’d still be all ego and no heart. By completely destroying the person I had become I was able to fall in love who I was meant to be. As my ego continues to dissolve into the background of my life I find it more and more important to help others destroy the illusions they’ve painted for themselves. Without a fragile ego constantly in need of protection we can focus on being more nurturing and loving towards the people in our lives.

My advice to you is simple: It’s a lot less draining to just follow your heart. Peace be with you all.


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