Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exactly who I am...

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly where I might be meant to make a stand for the rest of my life. Sometimes, if you can look past seemingly greener pastures, and all the falsely romanticized roles, you can see clearly the gift of your place in this life. It is perhaps like falling water through cracks and into the only puddle it could have physically found, this life of ours. Perhaps I was meant to help people, not in some strict sociological sense, but just by being here…just by showing up when everyone else is hurrying to run in opposite directions. I’m sure there is a fairly complex explanation for the phenomenon…a social theory, of course there is, but perhaps what it really all amounts to is water finding it’s own path with the help of gravity. What if everything we do is exactly that?

I spend my time with the dispossessed, the unwanted…society’s problems. I trust liars and thieves. I call the mentally ill my friends. I sit on the cold pavement sometimes rather than behind a desk. I like my life. I like these people. They allow me all of my faults…my jabbering, my frustrations, my awkward optimism, my sentimentality…they like me in any way, shape or form that the real me manifests itself. In their accepting eyes I am exactly who I am supposed to be, exactly, as Father Greg from Homeboy Industries claims, ” as God intended me to be.”

I met Father Greg this week, although we’d been in touch over the years. He runs the America’s largest so-called Gang Rehabilitation program in Los Angeles. His easy, infectious words changed my life, certainly no more than any one of the thousands of gang members he’s helped climb out of the only life they’ve ever known in Los Angeles County. He tells stories that peel back whatever layers you might have hiding what’s beneath, and he helps lead everyone he meets to their destiny – not to who they should be but to who they already are underneath all the layers of hopelessness. He’s a pretty incredible man.

I also met Luis, a former gang member trying his best to leave that life behind him. His daughter Lula, and my daughter Zoey were born on the exact same day. After four days together I’m happy to call him my friend. His easy, infectious words also changed my life.

I’m lucky. I’ve learned that it’s not what you are but rather who you are. For me it’s always been about us, not them…never them, there is no such thing…there is only us. Somehow the world has settled into a shameful acceptance of us and them. It makes things easier, I suppose, or maybe it allows us our discriminations and egos. I’m not exactly sure. All I really know is that I’ve grown to discover my soul in all of this. I’ve learned how to love better and I’m learning how to accept things. I’m a better person for standing right here, exactly where I am. I’ve learned, from Father Greg and Luis, that where we stand, right here and now, wherever that might be, is holy ground. I’ve learned that a person becomes a person through other people. I know that much.

Maybe the biggest thing that I’ve learned is that those people who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. I can do that. I can do that from right here where I stand. I don’t need to be any place else. I don’t even ask myself why I do this anymore. I do this because in one way or another we’re all searching for grace, and maybe, just maybe we’re already surrounded by it? Maybe the harder we look, the further we fall from it? We all want grace eventually, but maybe we already have it if we stop to breathe it in.

Maybe I am exactly where I should be. It’s good to be home, but I’m glad that I went.


Blogger John Teeter said...

I think the biggest adult realization I made was that I needed to be who I needed to be and not who I thought people wanted me to be.

Once I'd absconded myself from this notion of performing for and fixing others, especially considering most of that idea was self created, I was able to succeed and fail all for myself.

And that is where I feel you change from being a consumer to a producer. And hopefully into an inspiration for others.

March 28, 2010 at 10:07 AM  

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