Greetings from Massachusetts! Where I’m using this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to, in the words of my good friend Brian Skull, take advantage of this situation, before it takes advantage of me
(Brian, in addition to being a solid Krav Maga practitioner, is a tattoo artist…he inked the three skulls on my shoulder, which remind me of where I’m going, eventually, and to make the best use of my finite time upon this Earth)
When I left San Francisco earlier in early March, things were nearly normal
During my time on the coast over which the sun rises, I’m choosing to do what I was taught during one of the most challenging periods of my life…in 2007, when I chose to get clean off meth.
Focus on spirituality, self-improvement, and service to others
Thinking that there was a time—and it wasn’t so long ago—when it seemed unimaginable
That someone like you or me could enter place like High Desert State Prison, like I did during February’s final week
And throw your arms around an incarcerated man I’ll call Abe, embracing him in a big bear hug
Times do change! All things must pass
Abe and I would never have met, had I not first distanced myself from anyone who might hug me…from society itself
In 2007, in a flophouse hotel, I performed a form of self-quarantine
The sun setting, rising, and setting again, me all the while hunched over a crumbling table strewn with meth alchemy
(I attempted to craft sorcerer’s techniques, to conjure up meth in a glass ashtray…thus the label “tweaker” truly applied to me)
Humans like Abe teach me to stand up straight…to use my past addiction as a source of strength, to bring me closer to humanity
Abe is one of a percentage of men in High Desert Prison who choose to work very hard…despite the unimaginable challenges presented by their surroundings…
To earn the designation “Maverick”
By dedicating and immersing themselves in the Hustle 2.0 curriculum: employment, entrepreneurism, and personal development
I served as a volunteer with with the incredible Hustle 2.0 team, and an amazing group from The Jordan Harbinger Show (including Jordan himself)
Jordan’s podcast was awarded “Best of 2018” by Apple, and is one of the most downloaded new shows
His guests have included Malcomb Gladwell, Kobe Bryant, and Laila Ali (Muhammad’s daughter)…among many, many others
When Bryant was 11, he played in a summer basketball league…and failed to score a single point all season…seven years later, he was playing in the NBA (you can read more in my previous blog)
Ali entered boxing against the wishes of her father—perhaps the most celebrated boxer in history (and one of the most celebrated human beings)—and went on to record a 24-0 career and secure a unified crown
Gladwell wrote, among much else, a book called David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants…which I read recently, and discovered that we may well have more potential than we believe, when it comes to overcoming great odds
Jordan Harbinger chose to celebrate his 40th birthday at High Desert State Prison, serving Abe and the other Mavericks
Jordan brought along two busloads of his friends and fans…men and women who were successful business executives, entrepreneurs…persons with families, leaders in their communities
Many had never been inside a prison—all had many, many options for how to spend their time, options which could keep them distant from anything like a maximum-security facility
Yet they made a choice to travel to Reno, NV, and from there ride giant busses, 90 minutes, to inside the bleakest walls
To work closely with Mavericks, labeled by society as the “very worst of the very worst”
Convicted of violent crimes…murder, in many cases
The volunteers didn’t necessarily know what they were headed into…yet they brought their best selves to the table…and, like so many who volunteer for Hustle 2.0, later reported their lives transformed
Surrounded by dozens of men who dress in prison blues every day of their lives, with “PRISONER” clearly stencil-labeled on their backs
I had chosen to wear my fringed-leather jacket
I wear it out of concern for those I encounter: How will people know I’m having a midlife crisis, if I’m not wearing something like a fringed leather jacket?
(That’s a joke: If anything is certain these days, it’s that I’m not having a midlife crisis)
The fringed leather, while risking political incorrectness, is symbolic
I—like so many of us—have known life on the fringes
Many of you find yourselves living that way today (voluntarily or otherwise)
If you weren’t willing to live life on the fringes: Would you spend your time and effort volunteering in a prison, learning from humans like Abe?
Or reading lessons learned from someone (me) who did…and who also fought his way back from devastating methamphetamine addiction?
What other fringes are we prepared to live on?
Abe and the other Mavericks teach us: If we can choose to discover that behind bars, beat the hearts of human beings? Imagine the amazing discoveries we’re capable of making, about the potentials of our own hearts
It’s important to stay connected now more than ever, so the other day I phoned my first-ever meditation teacher, Marty Diamond
Over a decade ago, his teachings kept me distant from acting upon my fantasy: of taking a nighttime walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, gazing at my beloved San Francisco, and leaping to the waters below
The other day, Marty taught me something too, which inspired me to positive reflection, and which I’m passing along to you, in the hope it may somehow serve you:
Everything starts with a choice…we (you/me/everyone) have two choices in life
We can chose to face the sun
To bask in its warmth, rejoice in its light, take comfort in it’s Heavenly radiance
Or, we can turn our backs to the sun…
And stare at our shadow on the ground
Which will we choose?
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Thanks to the Mavericks of Hustle 2.0, Jordan Harbinger, and the other volunteers…and you, my amazing readers…I’m choosing to stay turned towards the sun
If we can discover that some of the people incarcerated in prison, whom society labels as the “very worst of the very worst”, are some of the best teachers we can hope to have?
Perhaps we can realize too: That even when we turn to the sun, to find it obscured by clouds
It doesn’t mean the sun has stopped shining!
Resources For You
If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction
Simply go to my website, and hit the “Download PDF Now” button in the lower right. When you enter your email, you’ll be signed up for my weekly newsletter, Meditations on Meth. Feel free to unsubscribe if you don’t want it.