I met a 33-year-old man today who has made a lot of wrong choices in his life. He’s spent a lot of time doing drugs and hurting the very people he loved the most – his wife and two kids – along the way. He recently got out of jail for his latest drug offenses and is now in a program for several months to help him ease back into public life in a constructive way. On Tuesday he’ll start looking for a job.
We talked a long while as he told me his story, what he’s doing to change his life’s direction, and his plans to do what is right so as not to put himself or his family in that situation again. He seems genuine and I hope that he continues to make the right choices in the weeks, months and years ahead. If he keeps coming to the weekly class I teach, perhaps I can have a small, positive impact in helping that happen.
When I talk with people who have gone down similar paths but who are at a crossroads and who now want to change, I am always impressed with the humility it takes to get to that point. There is no room for pride on that road to growth and change. They must admit their mistakes to themselves and to others, suffer significant legal and social consequences for their actions, and embark on a daily – sometimes hourly – struggle to keep from reverting back to old habits. Some make it – some don’t.
While the man today was suffering the consequences of actions that neither I nor most readers of this blog have personally done, many of us have reached points where we either hit bottom or close to it before we decided to make that important change in direction. It’s hard to convince people that life is much easier if they don’t wait until they hit bottom to change, but stubbornness and self-interest – not to mention addiction – doesn’t always listen to reason.
Still, for those who will hear, leap year lesson #288 is Don’t wait to hit bottom before you decide to change.