Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On My Quest to Becoming A Better Person

No box reviews today; instead today I am writing on a personal level. I'm sure by now everyone is familiar with the Pay It Forward/Random Acts of Kindness movement that's been gaining popularity by the day, so I thought it'd be nice to jump on the altruistic bandwagon. I've been lucky to have been blessed with loving family and friends and a job that allows me to afford a comfortable living. Not everyone is so lucky.

C and I have always embraced the idea of making others happy and helping them out, whether it's giving our 20% Off coupon to the guy buying a TV who looks like he could get more use out of it, or simply buying a drink for the next guy in line at the drive-thru. Things like these are simple to do, and to get others to do.

I want to share with you a story that made this whole helping people thing hit home for me. In high school I had a friend, let's call him Mike. Mike was easily the fastest runner I knew -- I'm talking about sub-5:00 miles in high school -- and needless to say he was on the fast track to making a name for himself in the running world. He was also one of the Top 5 most gentlemanly guys I have ever met. Ever. Well after sophomore year Mike made some bad choices and ended up throwing it all away when he dropped out of school. That was over a decade ago, and I hadn't heard of him since. The other night another classmate, my good friend (let's use John), saw Mike walking past his house by himself - Mike was homeless. I'm sure many can identify with the unsettling feeling of knowing an old friend is wandering the streets. It makes you realize the things you've taken for granted - like reeeally realize it. But that's not what made me want to write this post.

If you saw someone you knew looking disheveled and obviously under the influence of something, honestly what would you do? Look away? Put on an uneasy half-smile and hurry inside the house? Maybe offer a bottle of water? Admittedly, it would be scary to approach a homeless person on drugs. That night John did just that. He gave Mike some food, made it clear he would not be giving any money whatsoever, and then gave a risky but pivotal thing: a phone number. Having lost all self-confidence, Mike told John he didn't want to risk disappointing him, to which John replied that "I won't give up until you get your shit together." But that's still not what made me want to write this post.

After that encounter it was up to Mike. Nine times out of 10 I'm pretty sure that would be it. End of story. Drugs mess up your brain and no one can help you short of physically dragging you to rehab. But the very next day John got a call. From Mike. Asking for help. THIS is what made me want to write this post.

No matter how far gone someone is, it's never too late. Mike has been living on the streets for over a decade. It's his way of life. He's been on drugs for over a decade. It's his way of life. It's comfortable to him. But it took just one hour of the right kind of encouragement to make him step out of that comfort zone. They met up to discuss possible options. I told John I'd be willing to help in whatever way I can, whether it's by forming a support group or coaxing him into rehab. Many other classmates have also offered their help. C isn't very supportive of my decision because he is concerned about my dealing with someone on drugs - the unpredictability, the less-than-favorable people I may encounter, etc. Very real possibilities, but I'm taking at least a bit of comfort in knowing that we will be helping as a group. Safety is always a priority, but I also hate seeing someone who had so much potential living a wasted life. By reaching out for help, Mike is taking the first step toward turning his life around. I know it's very possible that all this will be for nothing, that he will feel overwhelmed and go back to his way of life and leave us feeling heartbroken and disappointed. But I would feel 10x worse knowing he's wasting away when I could have at least tried.

No comments:

Post a Comment