I met a guy when I was in Seattle this summer. It was not so much a meeting of romance, as a meeting of people who randomly end up at the same hotel on business and enjoy chatting with strangers. While not a large group person, I am, undeniably, an extrovert and I love meeting people wherever I go. I love hearing people’s stories and learning about what drives them. People are endlessly fascinating!
This particular person and I have continued chatting over the past few months. It is fun to banter about the randomness of life from the two different parts of the country where we live. It also reminds me of why the idea of blogging is so interesting to me. This week I will be meeting with my web developer, after our meeting last week was delayed by my seizure and hospital stay. One of the pages on my blog will be a contact page where I encourage others to reach out to me and share their own stories. So many people have been through unimaginable experiences in life and there can be so much healing in connecting with someone else who shares similar pain, even if it was caused by different reasons.
While many people have been through far more than I have, I have been through a wide range of random experiences that have allowed me the opportunity to meet and love a diverse group of people. From my friends with master’s degrees and PhD’s, to the friend working hard to get his AA degree in prison. From the people in politics and other public arenas, to the person with multiple personal disorder that I met in a psych ward. From my comfort in a business conference room, to my comfort in a jail cell, or my job at a top one hundred accounting firm, to my job as an escort. I have met a wide range of people in my life and have come to have great love and respect for people in most walks of life.
If I have learned anything in all my experiences, it is that I know almost nothing. I know my own experiences. I know the things that have helped me and discouraged me along the way. I know of my great love for others and the empathy my experiences give me for people in all walks of life. I have sat in homes of great wealth and the poverty of a huts in Guatemala and India. I did not necessarily find joy in the one of those people might expect.
What I am is thankful. I should not be alive today and the fact I am makes me feel a great sense of responsibility. “To whom much is given, much is required.” When I got out of jail in March of 2012, I understood that I was in a unique position. My life has been one of sharp contrasts, from the middle-class upbringing of my youth to the depths to which I had been allowed to fall when there was no safety net to catch me. I knew I wanted to advocate for so many who are not allowed a voice in society because of the labels our culture has placed on the way they might look, or act. However, I have come to learn that those things are often as much a product of how they were born and raised, as my own middle class, education focused upbring has raised me to be.
I knew that if I was going to have a voice that anyone would listen to, I would have to climb the ladders of our culture that value education, money, and status. So, I got my college degree, I got my job with a top accounting firm, I bought a home and I live a life that I am both proud of and blessed to have. But what I feel most is the responsibility to now leverage the life I have created to advocate for the ones who have, and continue to be silenced through little fault of their own.
My new website should launch in the next week or so, and anything that happens is in the hands of my LORD. All I can do is surrender my story and let THEM decide who, if anyone, would benefit from knowing they are not alone.
Once again I share this tattoo, my tramp stamp for my Jesus, that I got during the darkest season of my life in 2011. It incorporates my life purpose statement and the organizations whose values I chrerish, but whose people from whom I have often found myself running screaming. It is a tattoo that embodies so much of what I value. It is the N point on the compass as I steer my life.
So I will get all sorts of cheesy… and share a song that means a lot to me as I move forward in this stage of my life …. Hoobastank – The Reason
I’m not a perfect person, there’s many things I wish I didn’t do….
…I found a reason for me to change who I used to be, a reason to start over new…
…I found a reason to show a side of me you didn’t know, a reason for all that I do….