If you have lived any kind of life at all you have made mistakes. It comes with the human territory, I think it probably comes with any thinking animal’s territory.  Those mistakes might be small or they may be large and overshadowing. You may be ridiculed because of them or they may be severe enough that you will have to pay for them. In this country, unless you are rich, that means jail or prison.

You may do time for whatever you did. There is no other payment acceptable in the United States. This country does not believe in rehabilitation, just punishment. Funny stance for a country that could use some forgiveness, but I am not country bashing today or any other day, because despite the issues I have with this country it is probably one of the safest places to live in the world, and one of the fairest, considering that there are countries, even countries that call themselves democratic where I could be killed for speaking anything other than praise about the country.

Today I am talking about people.

Let’s say you do that time, or maybe you don’t, but you’ve made your mistakes and you are trying to pick yourself up and move past them. Admirable, and that is not sarcasm. Moving forward in life is a big deal. Many people just bury their mistakes and they never deal with, acknowledge or learn from those mistakes so that they won't do them again. They seem to skate through life, meanwhile there you are, r4egrettful, doing what you can to make amends, sure that you will be forgiven if you do the right things because that is what you were told from childhood. But it isn't true.

I started this purposely telling you that there is no such thing as rehabilitation in this country and that is true. Maybe I irritated a few people immediately with that statement, but hear me out before you start protesting or whining about what I said.

Check out the law. Take a look at reality. Check the statistics and you will see I am right. It has never been anything else. Confession, admission of guilt will get you past the parts of what you did that supposedly must be answered for, but it moves into punishment phase, not rehabilitation, and there will never be forgiveness of any kind at all.

Look at the way this country works, not in a critical way, just an impartial way. We say one thing, we do something different.  We imply absolution, we give none. We imply forgiveness, we again give none. You may be starting to think I am being hypercritical, but bear with me, I have an end and a purpose for these words in mind.

My purpose is to get you to take a breath, realize the way the world really is, not the dream world we all want to live in, but the real world we all do live in. That is important because even though I said all of that, none of it has to be true, because we as individuals make our own reality to a very large extent.

Yes, just shake your head, clear it. I wanted us to all be on the same level playing field and now we are. The key is, we can shape our own destiny, we often don't. Instead, we allow others to shape it for us. We allow others to tell us what their reality is. What they perceive our reality as. We find it easier to go with the flow, to join with the rest of the people that do accept the status quo and just jump in and follow blindly. Swim little fishy, swim. But it gains us nothing at all. It means we gave up our individuality to feel like we are part of something even though we know it is not really what we want to be part of at all. What we really want is to be part of what we believe. What we know there must be others who believe in also, and that is true. There are many others who see that better way. Dream about it. Almost touch it, but they do not have the resolve to see it to fruition. There is not enough belief inside of them. They are afraid, and fear is a stronger motivator than their desire to realize their own goals. To be individuals completely.

So what good is it all if no one makes it to the end? I never said no one makes it. People do make it. My illustration is that it is a hard road. You have to want it badly. More than you want to fit in. And that brings me back to my beginning. The major force, fear, that holds us back. It is wielded by others whenever we make a mistake. You will meet people who will let that pass, but you will meet people who will not. Unfortunately there is always something about that other person that keeps us with them. We find things that are redeeming in them, about them, all we need to do is change, give up that dream, maybe all we are really doing is growing up, after all. And so why not do it. Look at what we can have.

The problem is blinding. It is so hard to reason past, see around, that we give up completely more often than not and join that irresistible force that compels us, but the entire premise is flawed. Forgiveness is not a human trait. Neither is forgetting, and those are the things we really require moving forward if we have invested in their answers, their ideals, and forgiveness and forgetting are supernatural things, things we assign to divine beings, and we do that because we know deep down we are not capable of them ourselves. Yet we still expect to receive them from others.

To me that is like believing in the Easter bunny, or Santa Claus, but if you give it some thought we are a race of beings that love to make up fairy tales, tell stories, weave fiction into reality and so we subvert ourselves because some of us never stop and lay it all out. Tell ourselves what our truths are. It can be that simple. It certainly doesn't need to be complicated, it only needs to be explanatory, and it only needs to be for us, because although there are physical laws that equalize all of us, our motivations, goals and dreams make us capable of being vastly different from one another.

So we do not have to become someone else to realize our dreams, in fact that absorption into someone else's dream is what will kill our own dreams, usually for good. All we need to do is stay the course, and let me explain why.

One of the things you will notice when you step back to really look at your situation is that after a very short period of observing how things work you will see that your protagonists, the ones who want you to change so badly, to see the world as they do, are very insecure themselves. They need you to change to reinforce them, not to help you. You can easily see this because they give up very easily and move onto someone else if they don't get results and if you happen to see them change someone to their thinking you will see the positive reinforcement this gives to them. That doesn't mean they will never try again to change you, they will, it only means that like you they need positive reinforcement to move forward the same as you do.

Positive reinforcement: It is undeniable, powerful, and it is most often the reason that powerful people exist at all. The intoxication they feel when they bring someone into their line of thinking, make them see something they did not see before, did not conceptualize without them showing it to them. That is a feeling that is not unlike a drug: Once they taste it they will want more of it. Whether they are on a true path or destined to become wreckage may no longer matter to them. Think about that. They are bringing you along, who knows how many others and they don't even have a pilot or a map.

So what to do? It is obvious that not all of us are leaders. It is obvious that some of us do need to follow. I am not questioning any of that. Leaders and followers is the natural order of things. There could be no Gods if there were no people to follow them. No great men or women. I believe it is inside of us, lead or follow. I know thee are those who say there is another way, the 'Go my own path' way, but that is bull. The go my own path people have their own branch. How could that be if they are all alone? It couldn't be. It is just a stretch to be an individual. To deny the need to be a part of something when that need is undeniable. Water the grass and the trees and they will grow. Withhold sustenance and all will die. If there truly were a path alone you could withhold all there is and they would continue unaffected. So while I understand that need to be an individual, it can only go so far. In the end you follow or you lead.

The choice is not to do something outrageous. Yes, some do choose wild paths and some do succeed on those paths. That is not what I am saying. Outrageous implies spontaneous reaction, and reaction means you gave it no thought at all. I have watched some of what appears to be outrageous and it is sometimes, but there are times when it only appears outrageous to you or I because we have never seen it, never considered it: That does not mean it is outrageous.

In my experience there are those who do those outrageous things with no planning and they always fail just as we know they will as we watch the outcome or the events leading to the outcome play out. We say to ourselves, “I saw that coming.” And you did, so did I, but what about the times when we say we didn't see that coming? When we turn to the other in awe? Have you ever jumped into those times and asked questions: How did this happen? How did you get here? Maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but I have and I have because I have seen it happen a few times and I didn't ask any questions. I assumed it was luck, but have you ever really looked at luck? The odds of this thing happening over that thing? For instance, winning the lottery. The odds of winning are so far against you that you may as well not even try. Now if you were calculating the odds of losing that would be a pretty good bet. Say if you chose to bet that you would lose: No book would take the bet, odds are you will lose. Weighing those odds it is easy to see the other end of those odds, how wildly hopeful you would have to be to expect to win. Yet some people go into everything they do believing just that: That they will win. And when they do all the bystanders will be in awe, just as we are when that person wins the lottery out of the blue.

So what is the secret then? How do we live life in a world that is weighted against us. How do we trust, who do we trust? What do we hope for and how do we know we will get it? The first thing we have to realize is that our destiny is in our control. We are the ones responsible for our ultimate destination.

Break the law and wind up in prison? You made that decision. Yes, I know that there are men and women who sometimes end up in circumstances wrongly. I get that. I have seen it, but the percentage is low. And most often when I hear that argument it is a last hope argument. It means “I have not taken any responsibility for my own life and I know it and so I need to put that blame off on someone else because I can't function under that load.” Or the reality would be that the person is completely unaware of their circumstances. Very unlikely, very unlikely. And I am not speaking about and experience of some other person. I am not guessing. I am talking from my own experience. What I have done, what I have tried to do, and what I have seen that other people have tried to do.

There is a point. Maybe not when we take that first step, but there will be a point after that first step when we know we are wrong. Not where we should be. Not following the path we wanted: Even doing something illegal And there will come a time in that walk where we will say to hell with it and walk it anyway. I know that because I have done that and I know men and women who have done that. And if I am completely honest I have done it more than once. I was more than a little thick. It took me time to realize that although I thought I was just going with the flow. Along for the ride, I wasn't. I was moving my feet. I was making choices every second of every day that lead me toward that bad end. I did that. It was me. No one else.

I don't think that is an uncommon situation. I think many of us do just that. We follow when we should leading, because there is a part of our life where we absolutely have to be a leader, and that is when it comes to direction: Choices, destination, plans, goals, hopes and dreams. The things that really matter. And yet many of us fail to do any of that. I never did. I truly believed I had no choice at all. Then when I realized I did have a choice I truly believed I was making decisions when all I was doing was reacting, putting no more thought into the situation then I would be about not stepping on a crack as I traversed a sidewalk. Deciding? Yes, after I got myself into a bad situation: After I quit my job, after I married that woman I had only known a few months. After I decided to go for a ride in that car when I knew bad things might happen. After I had a beer or two and then decided to argue, knowing that alcohol affected my thinking processes, lowered my inhibitions. Then I took time to think, and that thinking went something like this “Why did I do that? Or “What the hell was I thinking?” or “How am I going to get out of this one?”

The fact is just a few minutes of thought beforehand could have changed everything completely. Where might this lead? What is this persons true intentions? What could happen? Am I prepared to take those consequences if that thing happens?

The fact is almost all of us wish we had mad that time for thought. Bounced some ideas off someone else if we had, had the chance, or just thought it out in our heads. Are we stupid? Did we really never give any thought to it at all? I can't answer for you, but I can answer for myself, and for myself I did not give anything like real time to myself to think things out ever. I felt I was worthless. I had grown up worthless, I would always be worthless and so why should I bother to do anything at all? Make any decisions at all?

Because I am not worthless any more than you are, or anyone else. We all have purpose, and that purpose shouldn't be tossed away, spent in the backseat of a car, or wasted in the passion of some violent crime, or thrown away on an unremarkable life. It only takes a little thought. Sit down. By yourself if you have to, with a friend if you have one you trust well enough. And if you do it with someone else you don't want someone who enables you. Someone who tells you what they know that you want to hear. You are going to be bouncing real things off of them so you want someone who has their head together. You might want to observe our friends and family for a while. Who seems to have it together and who seems aimless? You probably have had enough aimless, that is not what you need. What you do need is sound advice if you ask for it.

That brings to what you need to do. No rocket science here at all. You simply need to be completely honest with yourself. I am not saying be mostly honest with yourself, but be completely honest with yourself. All the way. That does not mean you need to bare your soul to someone else too. In fact I would not recommend that at all. Is there a time for that? Yes, there is, after you find more of your own kind. The people who are like you, and then from there someone you love. Not lust, not find yourself attracted to, love. Then go ahead and bare your soul. For this time all you need to do is be honest to yourself. In your head. Lay out the truths about you. What motivates you. What is dangerous about that and what is good about that. What you have to watch yourself about. For me it went like this: I am an alcoholic. A good drug will sidetrack me too. There are times when I can not resist a woman. I can be compulsive. I can stuff anger and then explode. I can be impulsive...

There were more things. The point is, get those things out of you. If you are in a place where you can write them out and you feel comfortable doing that, do it. It is not a big deal to tear up or burn your list after. I mention writing it out because that is exactly what I did. I want to remind you about the people in the world that will use you, use information like that against you, so take this step seriously. Don't jump, remember, this is about thinking and every step of it requires you to think. Weigh the danger of what you say to another person. Yes, some things need to be said. I personally put myself in a position of honesty about some of my life, the drinking, womanizing, drugs, because I knew where those particular things had taken me and they were very bad places I did not want to find myself in again.

Compulsions, impulsive behaviors, giving no thoughts to what I was doing or where I was going, reacting instead of thinking. I laid all of that bare because I knew I had no choice if I wanted to find my way. No choice at all. I was at the edge of “It is all over” and I knew it. So, honesty is what matters here, no half measures will do. Think it out, write it out. I wrote it out because you can argue very well with the truth that came by your own hand. That is if you are being honest, because let's face it, if you are lying to yourself you are dooming yourself to fail. Let me repeat that, you will fail because you have already doomed yourself. How can you win if you have lied to yourself? And, more importantly, how do you think that you could lie to yourself: You can't.

We are back to our original argument. We do know the things we do are wrong. We pretend they are not wrong, or we simply react and think that saved us the decision, but that is bull. We know exactly what choice we have made, and again if you are reading this my assumption is that you want to change. I can not change you, nor would I want to. That goes back to being a follower again. And you may end up following someone, but the point is to follow someone, something worth following. So, no, this about you changing yourself. You, not allowing others to do it. Not just living and thinking it is all fate, but you being responsible for you and the choices you make. So me saving you, is not on the table. The information I have is. And I believe that information can help you. It is you that will have to implement that information and the changes it can bring into your life.

I hope that you are not disappointed, but if I did what I set out to do you shouldn't be. If you are honest you can sit down and do this. I don't know what you will sick up, and it isn't my place or anyone else's place to know that, except you. You are the one that needs to know. You are the one that will know whether you are once again blowing smoke or if you are being honest. I hope for honesty and I believe you do. Even so sometimes we can believe we are too weak. We can believe that since we live in this country, this world where forgiveness is not given that everything is stacked against us and we can not do a thing about it. I can only say, go back and read this again and compare the things it says to your own life. You should see some truths there. No one can stop you from doing this. From walking away from this exercise completely new except you.

In closing: Let's go back to the beginning. When I started this I was speaking about the world, how unfair it can be. How there is no forgiveness, no forgetting and I don't want you to forget that, because the fact is that, that is the way it is. Family, lovers, people you meet. Very few people will truly forgive the things you have done. Forget the mistakes you have made. As long as they are in your circles, around you, maybe as long as you live they will still feel that way. In short there is nothing you can do to change that. Yes, you could run away from that reality to another reality, but there will be new people who will discover your faults, mistakes, crimes, because things like that tend to continue to turn up until we take care of them permanently. So new people will feel the same way. You will have done nothing except set yourself back in your goals, dreams. The answer is not to change them: To make them see you differently, the answer is for you to see them differently.

Have you ever hated something someone has done? Not necessarily to you, just to someone else in general. I always used the analogy of what if it was something that happened to someone you love. What if it was your brother someone killed, your sister someone murdered, raped, how would you feel then? Don't just dismiss that. Think about it. There really are people you love and if someone hurt them, cheated them, you would have emotion tied to how you felt about it. The line I am drawing shouldn't be hard to see. You have done things. Maybe they are minor things compared to what I just mentioned, maybe they are worse. No one has gone through life without impacting someone. You sometimes have to hurt one persons feelings to save the others feelings.

Life is like that, so no matter who you are you have not come through this life unscathed, there are people that do not like you, and, surprise, there are people that don't like you because you are different from them. A different sexual orientation, a different color. Right, we now all of that. I say it to make you think about it. There are people in your world that will never let you alone about real or imagined things they do not like about you, and there is nothing you can do about it. So, you can let them push you, shape your life, bow to their idea of what you are capable of, what you should be, or you can sit down and have that talk with yourself. Make the changes you need to make and start guiding your life to the place you want it to be.

Last words: This is not a magic bullet. Just because you put yourself on the right track does not mean that all the problems you created just reacting to life are going away. If it were that simple we would all have done it long ago. All it means is that you have set goals and you are working for them. You are giving yourself time to think. That is something you deserve. You are saying no to some situations and you are aware of your weaknesses and how they can lead you to bad choices, bad places. It also doesn't mean that everything you want will be attained. Goals are made to be changed, expectations lowered. Winners know that: Dreamers tend to believe that things will rise to meet their expectations instead of them lowering their expectations to meet life. So, don't think unrealistically. Make that one of things that you talk to yourself about. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. That is really the way I have lived my life for several years now. I think it is the only way to do it and win.

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