Friday, May 30, 2008
"Quiet Integrated growth.
As you can see, things in the room are a bit more orderly than they were a couple of weeks ago.
The Strive Program had another graduation today.
Jose Egurbide, deputy city attorney, is searching to discover programs to help people get out of Skid Row. There are few public servants as dedicated as he.
Progress. It is a funny thing to experience it. The photos that you see show progress. On the surface they just show a room that has a few things put away. In reality, it is more than that. Beneath the surface, like computer programs working in the background, a structural change has been developing over a long period of time. It is a mind that has been building discipline in its procedures and keeps o behavior on track with constant, vigilant monitoring.
No longer is a clean room just a seasonal, temporary change, where, before long, chaos would return because it WAS the normal way of life. breakthoughs have been made over a long period of time and now, what was temporary and seasonal, is now structural. It did not happen over night but suddenly it was there, strong and everlasting.
The change was slow. The growth that has taken place to a long time to marinate
but when it was done. The cake was ready. You know it when it happens. You feel a warm richness inside of your heart telling you that everything is just right.
Growth is something that does not take when you are distracted by substance abuse. Indeed, everything one does is contrary to growth and progress. Sure, we learn things things in college but that is not growth if we do not integrate that knew knowledge into our lifestyle. Sure, one can advance in his career, make nice pay checks. I know how that feels. But there is nothing inside that is growing. There is not growth in discipline. Instead, it deteriorates and corrodes. There is no money in the bank account, though money is coming. in. it drains out of the wallet to a lavish lifestyle of parties and decadence.
The problem is that you do not see it, the overall decline because the trappings of success draw your attention. Fool's gold. It comes in many sizes and shapes but it is there. Always there.The signs of self destruction.
The problem is that the disease of denial is there. Sometimes we are misguided by misplaced values of success. In other cases, we just do not know. We just do not know any better. And then at other times, we know, but it is a race to see what is going to win: Will we get a grip on reality and put the brakes on our path to destruction or will our bad habits, years of running away from the truth, catch us and create and design one's personal scenario of catastrophy.
It does not matter if it is drugs. We all have different types of drugs. To some it is sex. To others it is money. Power can be the drug of choice still for others. We neglect the solid virtues and principles that give us peace and joy.
I mention all of these things because I have experienced growth and it displays itself in many ways. My room is now, not just in order but it is an operation center for communication and a library center for research. It is a small gym for fitness. It is a tool that I am using to get some where. For years I tried to achieve this goal of a condensed operation center at my mother's house but it never could quite get thete. I still violated the canons of discipline and virtue.
I was not focused on development. I thought I was but I was so far from it I did not realize that development was something you did not learn. It was something that was felt and applied.
Finally, on Skid Row I have turned my little room into a place of study, research, communications and health management. I feel myself growing and preparing to go places. In the past, I was so busy trying to get there and paid no attention to the hard work necessary to get to my destination.
Every thing was bravado, the close relative to fake, shallow and arrogant.
If I had not done the hard work, the work necessary to prepare to focus, I would not be close to appreciating what focus is. I would be trying and not doing.
I would not have a communications system in place. I would not have an interactive editing system in place in my "virtual office" with friends with whom I am engaging in various projects. No, I would be running around crazy. I would not be able to utilize this laptop computer that was given to me so I can continue to grow.
Greater economics of scale have been founded from the integration of the systems that have been developed and the discipline embedded in order to maintain and operate them. Indeed, it is fascinating. If I had not grown as a man, no computer could help me when accomplish what I want to accomplish. I would be distracted. Instead of focusing on ways to improve on my systems and develop opportunities or increase my knowledge base, I would, instead be looking at nude women on dubious websites.
This is an exciting phase because it is the first time in my adult life where I am not only working on my development but devoted to it 100 percent. I am less concerned with getting to the destination than I am with enjoying and relishing the process of discovering what the destination is and keeping an open mind to opportunites that I never would have considered in the past. Hell, I did not even give myself a chance to investigate new things and, in turn, grow because I closed myself off.
I did not give myself the chance to learn new things, appreciate certain beauty in art or learn the miracles of science because I was too consumed with negative behavior that, at times, does not reveal its cost until it is too late.
If you recall, I said, after 8 months of living in Skid Row, I knew nothing about it. Different facets of Skid Row reveal themselves as time goes on and that is a function to the range to which one exposes himself to the different components that comprise Skid Row.
There is one component of which I feel competent enough to discuss with a certain degree of insight. I am talking about the drug client.
It is important to understand that I did not do drugs down here on Skid Row. I did not come here for drug treatment. I was court ordered down here for other reasons. Of course, if I had never done drugs, I probably would have never been ordered down here. Of course, if I had done drugs, my life would have been different in a great many ways.
That said, the fact is I was in a shelter that doubled as a drug program. Many people come there and detox. They may leave or they may go to a program. They may finish the program. In Skid Row vernacular, it is called graduation.
"Walter, I am a graduate of this program." "Walter, I am a graduate of that program". It has fascinated me that someone has graduated from 5 or 6 programs.
And yet, they return to the same program or enter another one. Why?
These men and women return and read some more books. They read more feverishly than the previous occasion. They learn a great deal. They can quote you many things from the text of these recovery books. But they return to the same place, hampsters running on a treadmill. I ask myself why.
I believe it is because no one helps them to grow. In many of the meetings that I have seen, the lecturers speak of tools that the people learn in the course of their stay at the facilities. They give them many facts but those facts are not converted into application. If they were converted into application, that would demonstrate growth.
There is not discussion about growth. I believe that people do not know how to recognize growth or know that growth should be pursued in addition to knowledge and there are certain behaviors that are recipes to growth. Those are the areas that are not mentioned in the meetings. Interesting enough, in private conversations with people who have returned many times to these programs, they have always told me to keep doing what I was doing.
It just came to me that these speakers mostly tell you what not to do. I surmise that no one told these returnees to do continue to do the things that granted them success. They figured that out after the stopped doing what they were doing and got distracted and discontinued the behavior patterns that were going to lead to growth. However, attaining the incremental plateaus of growth can be painful and the climb can bring about insecure moments. I know. I seeked external confirmation because I did not have, at one point, enough success to provide the internal confidence that brings about security and peace.
There is a great deal of knowledge in Skid Row. There is a great deal of wisdom in Skid Row. Most obtained that wisdomed after they resolved that they were not going to grow in ways in which they would have preferred. Acceptance is growth in and of itself.
For the first time in my adult life, I am actively, consciously pursuing growth. Furthermore, I am pursuing growth, not only as a totality, but in certain areas and I have the time and means to do so. I am grateful.
I can focus and learning how to focus has been a growth process. The more you focus inward, the less you are distracted and the process of self discoveryh unfolds like a rosebud in the spring sun.
One can learn without growth and one can not grow without learning. Interesting.
There are those that teach and devise programs in Skid Row that have grown in understanding that more is needed in areas that have been neglected. These areas are essential to keep people from being in the revolving doors of frustration, returning to drugs and despair.
Those teachers and program administrators have talked to me about what I think. In fact, in many ways I believe they were able to try out their own theories on me to give them information that hey could not get within the parameters of their jobs.
Many times those policy guidelines forbid certain relationships. Those relationships treat people as human beings and develop confidence and trust between parties. Those are the ingredients that provide mutual understanding and growth.
Let us not forget that Skid Row is a place of human beings. It is not just a spot on the map to be discussed and tossed about in each other's laps as situations arise, politically. Let's hope that the policy makers grow to understand that they need to listen to their subordinates for it is they who are in the field and see what works and what does not. It is they who are so frustrated with seeing failure that extend themselves to another human being and they want to be viewed as A CARING HUMAN BEING as well.
I have been the fortunate recipient of this unique outpouring of human compassion.
It has worked for me and they gave me the tools to give me the strength to perservere long enough so I can experience growth in its splendid manifestations.
I believe from our relationships, new ideas and programs will be formed. They will push the envelope to change things as they want to see people experience success and they want to know that their work and commitment means something.
In the meantime. I am elevating myself internally. I am transcending Skid Row spiritually and mentally. That is vital for if I do not do that I will not be able to sustain success when I leave this place physically. I have felt the experience of growth and through that the motivation to continue to grab on to more success because I believe it is there to be had.
I am lucky. I have had the opportunity to have people who care about me and who believed in me.
Through nurturing and patience, these people gave me the strength to keep pushing, to keep fighting. Writing this blog, something that I fought to continue to do, has led to other projects. Those projects are with people near and far. Growth in discipline has enabled me to utilize the knowledge of things learned years ago in business school and in the work world. I never woould have been able to utilize these skills had I not grown in many ways.
Einstein once said that with difficulty comes opportunity. I have survived much difficulty and coming out of it I see opportunity. I do not see where precisely. I just know it is there. I just know that I am studying and preparing and communicating and researching and developing myself to take advantage of these things.
That is why I call this the University of Skid Row. It can develop one. It can have that quality of beauty in the experience. One can find enjoyment in the quiet process of growth and the integration of the components of growth. I must go.
I must learn how to use the Windows Workspace software as a person is waiting for my comments on a document. Afterwards, I must research out some writing lessons.
After that I must look at areas of website development and networking purposes.
Finally I must read and look up the definitions of at least five words. Yes, I am going to absorb every thing I can. There is much growth to be done. There is more to understand about this Skid Row experience. There is more to discover about myself. A work in progress. The beauty of my Skid Row experience.