INTO MY WILDERNESS
This essay is one that I hope brings you a ton of love. I call it, welcome to the wilderness of my life and I basically want to highlight some things that happened in my life, and show you, how every step of our journey is bringing us exactly where we need to be.
This essay comes out of a life of suffering, the depth of the suffering does not matter, my life is pretty much an open book. I, like every one of you have been through hard times. This is something that no one is exempt from. It doesn’t matter if it was being severely sick with Crohns disease, multiple hospital visits, hemorrhages, excruciating pain, surgeries, and constant problems when it comes to number two if you know what I’m saying. 🙂 I was diagnosed at 15 years old, a time when most kids find their clicks, try to find themselves, and find their friends, those that would have you. For me things were different, I wasn’t a loser, but I wasn’t cool either. Sure I got beat up, pretty badly, a couple of times. Sadder still was I got that beating at the very first Highschool party I was invited to. I was so excited to be there. My new friend, moved from Hawaii, she was a great girl. She was a great friend to me, I didn’t have a crush on her or anything, I just liked the friendship. Well it wasn’t long before my friend became pretty popular. That didn’t stop her from being nice to me and a friend to me, but the more popular she got the less and less I would see her. So when I was invited to her highschool party, man I felt special. I was finally hanging out, with the cool kids. And I was given a wonderful lesson there.
One of my other great friends, a skateboarder whose family owned a Chinese restaurant, he was always either over my house, or I was over his. Him and another friend, befriended me in middle school. I was interested in skateboarding back then, and Steve and Woodie lived, ate, slept, and breathed skateboarding. So we went by the dump. I grew up about just up the street from the dump. We would cut through the woods there to get to school. In my book, the character Thomas has similar circumstances, you’ll find his story closely matches mine. Because of course, I wrote about my life, in an allegorical world. Because that is what our lives are. Allegories for us all to learn from.
So that first day, behind the dump, on make shift wooden ramps I skated with them. And man, compared to them I was terrible. But they embraced me, and became my closest of friends, all the way up till college, where everyone finds a different way. They were always there for me during that hard time. Not that they really knew the extent of my disease, but they were my friends. We went in the city, into Harlem and skating the infamous Harlem Banks together, there would be many visits to a mosh punk club called the Anthrax. I was the only guy who’d go there wearing a golf shirt. I was in the world, I wasn’t of it, if you know what I mean. I was accepted there and that was really all I needed.
So I hid my disease, I would get skinny, I would miss school, I would break out because of the drugs… they had a nickname for me, half a pizza. And things didn’t get any better really in highschool. But I had my friends, and since sports really wasn’t part of the picture because of being sick. I tried out for a musical, Guys and Dolls, and I got a part. That’s where I would meet another life changing force in my life. My friend Sean. He played opposite me in Guys and Dolls, we had a song together and everything. And Sean was so good, and so were his friends. You see, they were already an established unit. I really didn’t fit in their group, or the skate group, because truly I really always never felt very accepted and loved. But I was still given these wonderful gifts, the hunger to learn how to be the best actor in the world.
Now, all of this is very important. Because, had I been a healthy popular kid, with no real drama, or troubles at all, my life today would be very, very different. I wouldn’t have been raised up into the man who I am today. You see, even our hardest times shape us, like a grit of sand in an oyster, until that oyster finally gives up trying to cover up that pain, and surrenders to its fate. Which was to lay down its life and produce a magnificent pearl.
So, there I was, in highschool. Not really fitting in anywhere, but still having friends to call my own, even if I wasn’t their most preferred, they were there for me to help me, to direct me, to help me to find my purpose.
You can understand when my Hawaiian friend had her party, how excited I would be, hanging out with all the cool kids. Well that is where I got the worst beating of my teenage life. My friend Steve had gotten into an argument with a real tough, older football player. I could see that a fight was about to break loose, and it did. I made the mistake of grabbing the big dude off my friend to try to stop it. He took it, most likely as aggression, and beat me silly. In front of everyone. In the middle of the garage, where it would be my friend from Hawaii that would pull him off me and save the day. Humiliating huh? Well, it was a lesson. It was a defining and wonderful moment in my life. If not for that moment, I wouldn’t have taken an interest in body building, boxing, tae kwon do, and today I am not the 150 pound scared kid trying foolishly to fit in. I am a 240 pound brick house, that would never need raise me hand toward another, because another wouldn’t be so foolish. I learned to live a life of peace because of that moment. I was looking for acceptance in the wrong place, and for that I would be knocked down a couple of clicks. And for that, I am grateful.
My illness, my feelings of inadequacy, my loneliness, lit another fire within me. “Why was my life so hard?” That was the question I asked. “So I went inward and began to look”.
At 15 years old, I would get a job on a chance. I had never worked at a deli before, but I needed a job, wasn’t like the rich kids in the rich neighborhood I grew up with. In fact, it was thanks to that, and my Mother of course that I received my work ethic. Wanted to please others. That last one would take me years to get rid of. But I got this job. They started me right away. I learned the basics of sandwich craft, as well as the grill, but it would be the last part that would once again set me on the path I was destined for. I had questioned, was there a God? I couldn’t believe what I heard at Catholic church, it seemed so dead to me. Oh yeah, I went to Catholic Church. St. Rocks, it was right down the street from my house. My first and bestest friend 🙂 the G-man was an altar boy. I grew up in a very Italian neighborhood, and it was crazy. It had it’s crazy homeless men walking around, there was Crazy Eddie, and Tex. Who has chased me and others down, and my hand to God, came up to my Mother when she was in her car waiting outside the meat store, he began to choke her. CRAZIES IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! Down the street the other kids I was friends with, but never fit in, grew up in the Projects down the street from me. Well some of them got into dealing crack, one of them actually robbed my house. Then told me about it at the boys club, and wanted to work out a deal with my folks, so the police wouldn’t get him. He decided to give everything back and left it down at Lyons Ave park, near the dump. No charges were ever filed. It is so sad to see how some kids, that you grow up with go the wrong way. And not really know why they went that way. But one thing I learned, even back then was compassion, even though he had done wrong, I felt so bad for him. Because he must have been in so much pain, to have to live the life he was living. In any event, I would remain friends with him, just he wasn’t allowed over the house anymore, if you know what I mean.
But back to my Catholic Church days. So, I used to go to this Catholic Church, by myself, a lot. But it never worked for me. I used to dream of being one of God’s messengers, being a true light in this world. Ever since I was a kid, I was fascinated with the bible because of the events of my life. I had to know that there was more. That is when I would be placed with the cook, in the kitchen of the Deli. Colin was his name, he was like a second dad to me and he introduced me to deeper things. Not like the things I write about today, in fact, he was very, very confused, religion did him in. But, it was his heart that changed mine. So even from an early age I always wanted to know what it was all for.
I will cut to the chase now and give you the bullet points. My illness would continue for years, I would get married, and my wife would divorce me, I would gain custody of my children while dealing with the most difficult of circumstances. I would lose everything, and gain the world.
Now there is a point to this story. If each of us took the time, to go back and look at our lives. Do we see these hard times as blessings? Or do we see them as a curse?
What I have found is, when I am looking for peace in the wrong place, suffering would follow to correct my path. But I would also find that I, in a way, was a part of my suffering. Now I believe our lives go according to a plan, but few know, truly who is in control of that plan. We can say God, Allah, Braham, we can use all sorts of names and things to define the undefinable, or se can truly seek to find the truth for ourselves, without having to say, I am simply settling on this.
What if I were to tell you, that you could enjoy every minute of your life? What if I were to say, that altruism is the goal for each of us, and if that is our desire we can have it. And if we do not yet have this desire, our lives will eventually bring us there through a dark world of pain, self loathing, hate, envy, greed, and more? What if our suffering, is trying to tell us something? Trying to get our attention and say, can’t you see, you have chosen this path and these are the steps you must take in between?
I have found in my life, that everything that has happened in my life, that I would consider to be painful and sad has actually been exactly what I desired for, exactly what steps I needed to take, to be where I am today. What if we have created our lives? And our enemy, our ego, has tried to take all the credit. Our ego has tried to say, you are not in control, your life should be better but… There is always that but. We say in our hearts, I want to feel better, I want to get in shape, BUT I am too lazy to take the necessary steps to get there. It would be too hard for me to go after and take the very thing I want the most. That is our ego talking. That is not the truth. We can do all things in we have faith. Whatever a man believes in his heart, that he becomes.
I always wanted to be a messenger of love, of God. I always wanted to be an actor, I’ve been that. To be a screenwriter, have a movie produced, work for major television, become an author, start a blog, do videos, and guess what I have done that. I always considered myself to be, very much like Jacob in the bible, we shared the first name, spiritually we share the same last name. So I took that name for myself, now google that name. You will find me, not an ancient Israelite, me. Google images, and you will find me. Why? Because I wanted to be Jacob Israel spiritually. And in the waking world, that is who I am now known to be. Why? Because that is what I felt in my heart, telling me, this is the name you should take, take it. And I did. But if it wasn’t for the steps, the painful steps, none of it would be true. My desire for my life would be incomplete.
If my wife hadn’t left me, I wouldn’t have been alone through those hard times to write The Calling. If I hadn’t lived with another friend named Tommy, I would have never name my lead character, Thomas James. If my book was picked up by a huge publisher, I would have never started my blog. If my book became the best seller that I know it will be, then I wouldn’t be sharing this with you right now, would I. I would be focused on writing another book. But that is not the current desire of my heart. If I am honest with myself. I think more of us need to be. I would say, my every hope and dream up until this point has been achieved. Am I rich? Not financially, but I live like a King. Am I overworked, absolutely but I am providing for my amazing family. Do I struggle to get by, absolutely, do I worry about tomorrow and what it may bring, sure. But if not for all of that, I wouldn’t be writing you today.
We are where we are supposed to be. We have everything in our lives that we have desired. Whether you are in a limousine, or suffering with a terrible disease in a motor home, you are living the dream. Your dream, look at the person you are? Forget about the hurtful steps along the way, look at who you are, you are wonderful, you are strong, you are patient, you are caring, you are loved and have love to give, you are an example to all people. Whether you are the homeless man on the street, teaching others to have charity, or the general going off to a horrific war teaching the world that it is better to have peace. The steps in the wilderness are hard I know. But your next step, is yours to make. You can see all that is wrong in your life, you can look back on all of your pain and say, my life is most miserable, or you can say, my life is MY LIFE AND I AM GOING TO LIVE IT THE WAY I WANT TO LIVE IT! No longer during your toil under the sun, grumbling about what you don’t have, you will enjoy what you do have, and then you will be given more. You and I both, need to love ourselves, and enjoy our lives. The steps in the wilderness have bruised us sure, they have hurt us and left life long impression, absolutely. But it was all for your own good.
My life has been a blessed one, a gift, and each day, and every minute of each day from here on out, Because of the steps, I have the most beautiful and wonderful wife who teaches me more than she knows, I have four amazing children who teach me more than I teach them, and I have a future that I still have much to learn about. But I am going to live and enjoy it. Because all things were made through the son (children of God), for the son, by the son. Everything that is made, we make. So make a better tomorrow, by casting your ego aside, seeing that this wonderful plan that has been your life, has just really gotten started.
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“the Truth Will Change You”