“A Letter to Dad”

(The names have been changed to protect my friends’ rights to privacy.  Additionally, I have avoided giving too much detail, which might identify my friends, in case someone they know reads this blog.)

This was an email I sent my dad tonight, who has Multiple Sclerosis.  He’s been bed-ridden for a year or more; and his last email says that the disease has progressed to the point where he is now waiting for a nursing home to open up and take him.  When I was just a boy, he was my best friend.  As I grew older, our relationship grew more and more strained, until we stopped communicating all together for a very long time.  Just recently, after speaking with my close friend about his extremely caustic relationship with his mother – I began giving him advice.  Of course, if you are willing to give advice, you should be willing to take it…if it applies.  It did.  I needed to attempt to heal the relationship between my father and I, somehow.

He is going to pass away at some point, and I didn’t want that to happen before I had a chance to say how I really felt about him and what impact he had on my life.  In the past I had focused so much on my own pain and misery, that I could not really see what was going on.  I spewed hatred and bitterness everywhere I went.  I hated myself.  I hated my father.  I hated my mother.  I hated the world; and I didn’t trust anyone.  The miracle is – how did I ever manage to become removed from all of that and begin my healing?

Something greater than me has stepped in.  I am sure of it.  And so, in the spirit of generosity and appreciation, I say with a very warm heart, Thank you, whoever or whatever has watched over me all of these years.  I know that you were there; even if I couldn’t feel you at times.  You have guided me, protected me and brought me to this place and time of forgiveness for myself and for those who I felt did me harm when I was younger.  If there is a God; then this bit of song which I love to sing applies, here, I think:
~Our God is an Awesome God- He Reins… from the Heavens Above, with Wisdom, Power and Love – Our God is an Awesome God!~

To Dad:
Remember when I was at one of the foster homes; and you recorded two cassette tapes of songs on my birthday?  You would spend a few seconds to introduce the next song coming up.
I really appreciated that.

I think I wore those tapes out, playing them over and over and over again.  Each time I did, I thought about coming home again.  It got me through some really tough times.  Thank you.

My friend Sam went through some very traumatic stuff with his mom when he was just a kid.  She nearly killed him several times, driving drunk.  He literally, had to, as a kid, grab the steering wheel out of her hand, so they wouldn’t drive into a concrete divider on the highway; and shake her awake.

When he tells me this stuff, I let him talk for a bit, because he needs to speak about it.  He needs to acknowledge it.  But after a time, I begin to steer him toward what he wants to get out of his relationship with his mom, now.  Now is all we really have.  And I hate to see him waste his, now, on bitterness, so I have repeatedly asked him to focus on the things that were good between him and his mother.  Over the course of a few weeks, he has increasingly been able to do so; and what started out as hate, and anger and all the why’s of why she did this to him as a little kid; and why can’t she just admit some of it…..he’s starting to feel the love he felt and has wanted to feel for so long, for her.

As a man, I have had to make really tough choices:

One of those choices led me to walk away from a girlfriend/friend who kept drinking and drugging, because it was keeping me from being able to stop, myself.  I still like her and think about her.  I care about her; but I had to do that in order to get my own life straight.

It’s these kinds of choices, I feel, which make the difference between a boy, and a man; or a girl and a woman.  When you told me, that I had the makings of being a leader, I couldn’t see it, all those years ago.  All I could see was that I was unpopular, felt confused and no girl seemed to want to be with me.  I tried to change all the outward stuff, hoping that that would somehow change me and that people would want to be close to me.  In time, I saw that changing my outward appearance, was a very SMALL part of changing the conditions in my life; but where I would need to focus most of my attention, would have to be on my character.

I came to this conclusion very slowly and very painfully, when I started looking for a way to avoid being poor; and instead, studied the ways of the wealthy.  I gave up, for the most part, reading fantasy and science fiction; and began a steady diet of self-help books.  It was a painful process, because the last thing I wanted to really do, was to change myself – that takes courage, conviction, commitment, consistency and discipline – all of which, I was sorely lacking, at the time.

Some of these books would have exercises to do.  I wouldn’t do them.  The most I would do, was imagine doing the exercise.  Yet, I kept coming across these books that told me that if I really wanted to change, then reading the book would not be enough.  I would have to take action.  Because I had created a habit of reading these kinds of books; I kept coming across this message, until one day, I picked up a pen and piece of paper and tentatively began an exercise in the book I was reading.  But as my courage grew and my yearning to change grew stronger, I did more and more of these exercises. – And the course that this has set me upon has been so powerful that it literally changed my life.

So, yes, I am becoming a leader; but I am certain that I could never have done so, had I not been in pain.  It was the pain that forced me to take a look at myself, that caused me to have such a burning desire for change and transformation, that I would become intimately acquainted with fear, and what it takes to overcome it – or pain, and what it takes to push through it.  How could I ever have hoped to lead people, if I had not gone through my own hell?  How could I ever have related?  Even if I tried, what advice or real-life problem-solving action could I have taken?  If I had tried to rely on some text-book knowledge that I had read out of a field guide for leaders – the most I would have accomplished, was regurgitating what someone else wrote – with no thoughts of my own that had been congealed over time and experience.

Facing failure after failure and learning that that is not the end; has given me the ability to not see myself as a FAILURE, but more as a scientist, who will eventually find what he seeks.  I may have gotten people to follow, but as soon as REAL problems arose, my lack of character would have shown through and people would have lost faith in me; and maybe, even, themselves.  If I am in a crisis situation in the future…I cannot afford for this to happen.  Lives might be at stake; or something greater.

So, looking back on my life, even though the lessons have, at times, been very difficult – I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to have gone through them.  Most people would never say that – And that is precisely why I will be a leader among leaders.

Most of that has to do with how you brought me up:  Your advice.  Your quotes like, “If man thinks he can; or a man thinks he can’t – he is generally right”; and “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”.  Your love of knowledge and being more than just average.  Your love of the mind and logic.  Your multiple interests.  Your curiosity and playing with science.  Your anger and passion for life.  Your jokes and lighter side.  Your wanting to teach other people what you had discovered…Your need to think for yourself —- I watched that, and began to incorporate it into my being at an early age.  I didn’t know what was happening, but I was being transformed.  My little body and mind and heart were going through an alchemical transformation; yet, I was unaware.

So, I want to thank you.  I want to thank you for the time when we were watching a football game; and you smelled something burning and grabbed a hot frying pan with your bare hand; had to go to the sliding glass door, slam it open and dump it outside on the deck.  You acted without worrying about your fears; got a second or third degree burn for your bravery and selflessness.

Later, while I was in the Marines.  My corporal had dove into the water and the other corporal froze when she realized that he was in trouble.  I acted without thinking, endangering my own life, getting my glasses knocked off; and having the water pull me down in between the big stones of coral…ripping my my back to shreds and my hands and my feet, after bracing with all my might, so I wouldn’t be sucked under.  Even after all that – after having failed to help him and nearly dying, myself, I still went and crawled back over to him and pulled him out of the water.  I calmed my mind and noticed that if I used the tide, it would buoy up his body weight and would be able to pull him up onto the rocks, safely.

These are things I did not share with you; or if I did – not the whole story.

I just want you to know, that I am the kind of man I am, mostly, because of you.  Words cannot express all that I feel for you, though in this email, I have tried.

Dave

David Lee Madison, Jr.
~Nate – street name
~KnavetheMage on Twitter
~ZenNinja
~Nate Love
~Dreamweaver
Wordpress – Synergy, KnavetheMage, suprememasterjedi
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Monday, December 16, 2013 – 01:27

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“The Importance of the Relationship, Irrespective of Money”

I was sitting in the bathtub, as I often do when reflecting, and I came to the conclusion that in order to preserve relationships or build them even stronger, we could be sensitive to what that person is willing to trade, in terms of money, time, things, energy, or advice.

A personal relationship floated up to my awareness concerning this woman said to me once, “Wow, thanks.  You really didn’t have to do that.  That was nice of you.”, with a big smile on her face.

As money became tighter in my life, though, I found myself moving into business mode with her:  I wanted to make sure she paid me my money’s worth – and forgot about the effect that that might have on our relationship.

I’m going to be a businessman – there’s no doubt in my mind about that.  However, do I want to be the type of businessman who people are jazzed about doing business and being personal with; or do I want to be the kind of guy people shy away from because of my lack of caring and consideration to where they are in life or what they might be going through at the moment?

If I had a choice, and I believe that I do – I would choose the guy who people instinctively WANT to be around; the one that they call up and ask to visit, just for the hell of it.  That’s the guy I want to be.

The relationships that I build between myself and others needs to take priority in my life, irrespective of money.

Now, what I’m NOT saying, is that money isn’t important.  It is.  It’s crucial in the society that we live in.  But, its importance should never overshadow the friendships and the warmth and loyalty that I want to attract.  Ever.

After reviewing how my actions appeared to be affecting the vibe between us…I was ready to try something else:

And this is when I came up with this great thought:

 

What if I if I was willing to receive what people were willing and able to give; and stopped demanding that I receive payment in a certain way?  What I’m getting at here, is that money is often the medium of easiest exchange:  I do this or that for you; or give you this or that – and in exchange you give me some money, which I will later use to trade in for some other thing that I want, right?

Instead, if I could learn to recognize what someone is capable of giving and WANTS to give me, and was adept enough at exchange and self aware enough to figure out what I NEEDED; and found some way of making those two things work in harmony. – that would be amazing!  That would totally transform the relationship’s dynamic with every single person I met, wouldn’t it?

Was this relevant to you?  If so, please leave a comment or a short little story of how you might have applied this in your life.  Because I don’t just write to share my thoughts; but to affect change, as well.

David Lee Madison, Jr.

~Nate – street name ,

~KnavetheMage on Twitter

 ~ZenNinja

~Nate Love

~Dreamweaver

WordPress – Synergy, KnavetheMage, suprememasterjedi

Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO

Thursday, December 5, 20134:38

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Change or Transformation Can Take Time

By the way, I’m a Capricorn with Chinese Goat and Snow Goose to boot!  If interested in what these mean…leave me a comment, and I’ll explain it to the best of my ability.

I want this blog to be of use to people, so I entertain comments.  Soon, I’ll actually figure out to respond to them *laughing and shaking head*

As I sit here in this swively (is that even a word – Google spelling with it’s annoyingly perky red squiggly line, seems to think not – I respectively disagree, hmmmfffph!) office chair at my computer desk in my very first apartment of my own…

I’m taken back to a time when I wanted desperately to change:

I can remember glancing down at the wet streets below and recalling a black and white documentary I had just seen about how Section 8 Housing first came into being.  I was terrified.  I wanted to get my own apartment, but after seeing those images of people washing themselves underneath the New York streets from a dripping drain pipe in the middle of winter – well…I didn’t want to be one of those people.

And yet…I did.

At least, I wanted to be the kind of person who could survive those kinds of conditions and bounce back and become successful.  Guess I got my wish.

For a little over five years now, I have surfed the streets of California, Boise Idaho, Ketchum Idaho, Norristown Pennsylvania, and now, here in Boulder, CO.  – And I’ve learned a thing or two about survival…

The main thing is…you need to learn how to become resourceful and you need to learn how to bide your time and scrunch down your disappointment and the feeling of the unfairness of it all, that people won’t give you the time of day – all in favor of becoming more than you were someday in the future.

I’ve said it many times before:  A homeless person makes one mistake and can fall back ten steps.  We have to be careful what we say, who we confront, where we sleep, the places that we frequent to stay warm and dry; and even who we confide in.

When you have an apartment or a house, chances are, you also have family or friends to support you – putting you up on their couch for a week or two while you find a job.  Often though, for a person living on the street – having been there for a while – the notion of support is a hazy dream.  You’re limited to who you know and who cares enough to look beyond your failure as a first class citizen and who’s willing to go out on a limb to help you out and give you a chance to get back on your feet.

Speaking as both a former homeless man; and the one who’s given out the helping hand – I can say that when the roles are reversed, a person can really be tested as to their own integrity and whether they do as they say and remain true to their own values.  It’s hard to be the only support for someone who doesn’t even know how to help themselves.  It’s difficult to watch them berate themselves for not doing better and constantly spew a stream of vitriol against ‘the system’ or the society that won’t give them a chance.  When you try and tell them that things can get better if they only try and move forward – they look at you like you’re dumb.

The look says, “Man, if you’d only been where I’d been, you’d take that Pollyanna crap and the fairy, star-dust you’re giving me that don’t mean a damn, and shove it up your own ass.”

I know, because I’ve felt that way – too tired to do anything for lack of sleep. – Depressed.  Dirty, smelly, feeling like no one cared or ever would – like I would stay and die on those fucking streets.  What a feeling.  – And to feel that almost every day you wake up?  That’s almost even too much for a person such as myself…having been through the Marines…to bear.

Change or transformation takes time.  We all want the rest of society to change; but in truth, we, ourselves, have to make the first steps.  I’ve been through the ringer in terms of being an only child, parents divorced, foster homes, being labeled a ‘special-ed kid’, moving all the time, flunking out of the military after less then two years, and then succumbing to alcohol for a time while I was sleeping behind dumpsters.

Quick TIP:  If ever in that situation, make damn sure you know when the trash pickup is…you don’t want to be squashed like a bug against a wall when they come to flip that dumpster up into the back of that truck.

To  change enough to transform your life when that far gone, can take a super-human effort of will, determination and consistency of character, which most people never have to even think about; let alone perform on an hourly basis.  But once one has done that; they feel that they may be able to do just about anything else in this world.

All of us who’ve ever picked up a self-help book in Barnes and Nobles or the library, have come across the idea that you can completely turn your life around in 21 days – “The same amount of time it takes to break a habit!” – they often exclaim.  Well, yeah, I’d agree, if you only had one thing to focus on and the rest of your life were going as planned; and you weren’t continuously having to map out how you would survive from day to day.  Yeah, I’d agree.  If you just want to stop smoking or lose a few pounds…

But my friends, if what you want is a sustained change ranging through the whole scope of your character so that you can succeed in life? – I’m here to say that I’m afraid it will take much, much longer than any cute, quick 21 or even 90 days.

The good news, is that the people who realize this; the sooner that they accept this – the sooner they will set upon the path of real transformation, the likes of which not many people can ever claim.

If interested in how you can transform your life and what the benefits might be, stay tuned to my next article coming up within the week.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your comments.  I’m still learning how to respond, so if I don’t get back to you; you don’t need to take it personally *smile*