Some things never change.
Principle 1: Hope gives us something positive to look for and move towards. We can admit our need for help as we begin to share in our common welfare.
Without hope, what is there? Nihilism reigns supreme in this land of desperation. Depression has taken on a new meaning in this cutthroat society, as many commoners suffer from it due to financial and emotional struggle. Unfortunately, this leads to drugs being used as a vice to get through it. Although it may be seen as a temporary solution, it only precipitates bigger issues.
With hope, however, you may never become victim to the long-term effects of substance abuse after all. Chasing the high that hard drugs can give you will never match the high that this existence has to offer you. The euphoria of life, as one may call it, is too beautiful to compete with pharmaceutical inventions.
Principle 2: Surrendering to the things we cannot change through our own power is a way to get on with our lives. We seek a Higher Power of our own understanding and that becomes our ultimate guide and source of strength.
Shit happens. Sometimes, shit happens, and ain’t shit you can do about it. As a wise villain from a certain zombie show once said; If you have to eat shit, best not to nibble.
When circumstances aren’t ideal, going with the path of least resistance is what principle 2 describes as the ideal choice. Sometimes, a scenario doesn’t pan out the way you expect it. Sometimes, everything that can possibly go wrong, does. It’s up to you to approach these losses with an attitude that exudes accountability, in order to move forward. We all fuck up, but that’s the human way. It’s what you do after the fact that matters more.
Principle 3: Acceptance allows evasion and denial to give way to reality and peace. With the care of God, we are granted the power to welcome new people and new ideas into our lives.
The day is Friday. You wake up to a stiff noise that is your alarm stemming from a regal clock bedside. The time says 7:30am. Rolling out of your queen bed, you embrace the day with joy, as you usually do. You open the blinds to your windows, and absorb the warm sun that only a 40th floor condominium can offer. Your routine consists of: hopping in the shower, brushing your teeth, grooming yourself, making a pot of coffee, reading the Wall Street Journal, and whipping up a smoothie and an appetizing breakfast before you head out to your 9-5 at the national bank in the middle of the metropolis you reside in.
Upon arrival, you are surprised with an invitation to a rooftop banquet by one of your supervisors. The event is an annual holiday party that he and others partake in. This is your first time being invited, since it’s your first year at the bank, so you accept in hopes of establishing goodwill within the company.
After the work day is concluded, you rush home and get spiffy. Excited for the opportunity to expand your namesake, you rush over to the the banquet, which is conveniently located at the same building that you work at. Once you get there, you’re greeted with a glass of champagne by the supervisor. You aren’t much of a drinker, but out of respect, you welcome the drink with a smile. You scarf it down, and the supervisor follows up with another glass, reminding you that it isn’t a race.
Sooner than later, you find yourself in a drunken stupor. Two glasses led to four, and four gave way to eight. Whilst trying to find any semblance of your sober self, the supervisor comes up to you once more. Two gentlemen are besides him.
The supervisor introduces the gentlemen as the branch managers, and proceeds to shower you with praise, citing your ability to: sway various corporate clients to transition into your field, meet reconciliation deadlines, and most importantly, secure a deal with an agricultural firm that boosted Q4 figures, just in time for your year-end review.
The managers, although impressed, notice your inebriated state, and ask you to come with them into a private lounge within the banquet. Once you walk in, you notice a multitude of figureheads from companies operating within your bank’s reach. From CEO’s to CFO’s, the room is brimming with wealth.
Your starstruck moment is interrupted by one of the managers, who brings you over to a roundabout of suits, and then, that’s when you see it: a glistening mountain of cocaine, resting on a golden tray within said roundabout.
You look around, flabbergasted at the revelation, and wonder if you’re living out a dream state formed from the intoxication. The supervisor notices, and comforts you, claiming that this is how the big wigs party, and that there’s no shame in a little fun. As you come to grips with the reality of the situation, the managers notion towards the substance, but you politely decline.
However, one of the suits just so happens to be the same man that helped you finalize the deal with the agricultural firm. The reason being; he is the CEO of the agricultural firm. He approaches you, introduces himself, and then proceeds to explain the situation.
“See, pal, we’re not just the big guys up top. We like to resonate with the little man, and that’s why we do what we do. This right here? Nothing more than a pastime in the long stretch. I see potential in you, bud. I just want to know if I can trust you. That deal you managed was beyond impressive, probably the biggest one we’ve experienced. But it’s nothing if I can’t confide in the man behind the scenes. Now, what do you say? A little bump never hurt anyone.”
Astonished, you look to your superiors for guidance. Is this a test? What is the right choice? Should you just walk out? But you don’t want to seem like an asshole, and you succumb to the pressures of the peer variety.
“That wasn’t so bad, now, was it? Santa fucking Claus couldn’t provide better snow if he wanted to. I see a future in you, kid. Tonight is about us. Now, let’s stop the shop talk, and let’s fucking party!”
You step outside on the balcony for a breather, still processing what had just happened. It’s a starry night, and the street symphonies serenade you as you stare into the city’s heart, illuminated by the moonlight and its own fervent lighting. Being at one of the highest points in the region grants you a spectacular view, and a feeling that everything is going to be alright. Complimenting this was a garden parallel to the balcony’s entrance comprising of exquisite plants, including an assortment of lilacs, roses, peonies, you name it.
Suddenly, you feel a single snowflake land on your cheek. You raise your arm to observe the time. Your watch reads midnight. A smile grows across your face
Christmas has arrived.
ONE YEAR LATER
The day is Monday. You wake up to a stiff noise, but it isn’t your alarm. Rather, it’s the 4am garbage truck that rolls around. Your alarm on your iPhone was set to go off at 4:30am, but you knew that if you went back to sleep, you wouldn’t wake up.
You are no longer employed at the national bank. A few months after the holiday party, a thorough audit and investigation conducted by a joint operation between the SEC, DEA, and FBI uncovered a plethora of criminal activity, spread out amongst multiple organizations, operating within the confines of the bank’s network. It made all the papers, and almost everyone was left in the dark throughout the events, you included.
The CEO of the agricultural firm? Arraigned on embezzlement and racketeering charges.
The bank branch managers? Convicted for money laundering, bank fraud, and securities and commodities fraud.
Your direct supervisor? Charged with conspiracy and tampering with evidence, amongst other things.
You? Well, you lucked out, but not really. The trial was long and heavy, and you were called upon as both a defendant and witness. You ultimately testified against your superiors in a deal with the prosecution to receive no jail time/a 2 year probation, but were let go subsequently by the bank on account of being too attached to the scandal, as well as evidence of your newfound cocaine addiction. In addition, many of your professional acquaintances looked at you under a new light; one in which you’re a liability, but more importantly, a snake. To say that ties were cut would be a colossal understatement. They were downright mutilated.
Your credibility with the general public was also derailed, as evidence presented during the trial showcased you, amongst others, engaging in cocaine use in multiple security camera tapes. This evidence was mostly utilized as proof of drug use tied to the DEA’s investigation into the source of the money that was unaccounted for during the SEC’s audit. The source of the cocaine was traced back to a notorious crime organization that used its influence to launder money into multiple business fronts. Needless to say, you were collateral damage in the grand scheme of things. You were universally blacklisted from all major firms, and your assets were frozen during the duration of the trial. During that time, you lost your condominium, and were forced to pawn off many of your valuables to stay afloat.
Your current job is as a janitor at a local high school in the projects, where you currently reside.
You roll out of your twin bed, upset at the fact that you lost out on 30 minutes of sleep. You line up a line of coke that’s sitting bedside, replacing the coffee you used to love making, and get up hastily. You haven’t groomed yourself in months, so you look like a man fresh out of a GEICO commercial, and you don’t bother opening the blinds, because you have none. The sun isn’t out yet, but by the looks of it, the grey clouds are taking over today.
Breakfast is usually skipped, as you swipe meals at the school when no one’s looking. Your health has deteriorated tenfold, but you simply don’t care. A shell of your former self, you stand idly at the bus stop, where you sometimes share a ride with the slimiest of beings. You begin to consider yourself one of those slimes, but before that thought can take off, the bus arrives.
Walking into the school, you get to work. The high school is hosting a Christmas Eve charity event for the families that can’t afford basic necessities, and the administrators have tasked you out with sweeping and mopping the gymnasium for the affair. Most of your coworkers are uninspired has-beens that never got far in their ventures. Yet, you are the butt of their jokes, due to your sharp decline in status. Adding severe insult to injury is the fact that your former bank is sponsoring the event. Your bitterness couldn’t be more evident.
You get a text from the principal. He’s requesting that you come into his office immediately.
Ever since you got the job in late August, you’ve been striving to impress your superiors yet again. You despised mediocrity, and always kept a passion for whatever task was placed before you. Even if that meant scrubbing toilets to a pristine state.
Walking into the principal’s office, you notice his concerned state, and become slightly nervous. Unfortunately, that nervousness is well warranted, because the principal lays it on you that you are being furloughed.
“With the limited funding that we’re receiving due to the city’s new budget plan, we simply can’t afford to upkeep the amount of staff we currently have now. A decision ultimately landed on you, but trust when I say that it was an arduous process. I know the timing is unfortunate, but this is only temporary for the time being. I hope you under-“
Enraged, you cut off the principal, finally voicing your frustrations for the first time in a long time.
“Are you fucking kidding me? Nah, you’re fucking with me. So let me get this straight: I come in early every fucking day, go home late the same day, never fucking call out, go above and beyond for you cunts, and you’re firing me? Is this because your stupid fucking charity event is being sponsored by the same bank that fucked me?”
“Mr. *****, I would watch my tone if I were you. You’re not being fired. You’re being furl-“
“I’m pretty much being fucking fired, asshole. Jesus, I can’t escape the trial. It follows me to this shitty fucking school. Yes, your school is shitty, because you don’t keep a tight ship. You’re a sad, miserable excuse of a man, and you’ve probably never pleased your wife. Whoops, I meant ex-wife. It would explain a lot, you sorry fuck.
The principal proceeds to radio up security.
“Mr. *****, please exit the premises immediately. Happy holidays.”
“Shove that happy holidays up your tight ass. Oh, and by the way, you should know that none of the other janitors respect you. Matter of fact, those crackheads think you’re the biggest pussy in the city. Good luck finding better. Prick.”
You storm off before the security guards get a chance to arrive, and you leave the school.
You spent the next few hours in a diner, toying with your food, as your appetite no longer existed (mostly because of the drug use). You were just killing time until the local liquor store opened up shop. Alcohol and cocaine were your only source of happiness for months now. Once the liquor store opened up, you copped a pint of whiskey, and headed home to kill time until the pub opened. Once the pub opened up around 5, you decided to head over and spend another few hours getting belligerent. Throughout this entire process, you pondered your failures, and couldn’t pinpoint a source of origin, so you decided to go back to where it all started.
Security was always lenient at the bank building, and you still carry your building access card with you, so the elevator was able to take you to the floor where the rooftop banquet was held. You jimmy the doors to gain access to the banquet hall, which is now empty, as the bank was forced to post the property for sale during the trial. You make your way towards the balcony.
Outside, the remnants of the garden are a sad sight. Wilted petals litter the balcony floor; a direct result of the flowers that have perished. A light blanket of snow covers the botanic graveyard. You are starkly reminded of the darkness consuming your life.
As you observe the city, you begin to reminisce. The clouds ominously shroud the skyline, a far cry from the glossiness of the constellations visible a year prior. Snow continues to fall as far as the eye can see, substituting the city’s radiant beauty with tragic dimness. You think back to the first time you’ve experienced cocaine, and how it has corrupted the word “snow” for you. Now that’s all you see. The memories of days past have also been replaced by crippling isolation. You have no one anymore.
One of your dreams as a child was to be a superhero. The ability to fly has always fascinated you. In a reality full of nightmares, however, your dreams were placed on standby, and eventually abandoned. You suddenly had the realization that you can finally achieve that one childhood goal, or at least attempt to, given the setting. Your idiosyncratic tendencies from a year ago resurface.
You check the time. The watch reads midnight. As a single tear rolls down your cheek, you step up on the ledge of the balcony, and take a leap of faith.
Christmas has arrived.
Principle 4: Honesty is the ability to match up our insides with our outsides. It allows what we don’t care about to go away and what we really want to appear and develop in our lives.
You are in control of your own reality. Depending on who you ask, destiny may play a part in your journey, but the power of free will ultimately dictates your fate. Don’t lie to yourself and think that shit will just happen. It’s deeper than that. Working on your ability to let in the light, and omit darkness, is a strenuous task. However, the pay off is well worth it.
Principle 5: Open mindedness is our bridge to the experience of others. It is the passageway out of loneliness into the life of the Spirit.
Experiencing raw culture is a blessing, but understanding it is a gift. The overprivileged bask in taking advantage of culture to fulfill their agendas, while the underprivileged seldom have a chance to appreciate the magic behind it. Finding a middle ground consists of being accepting of new concepts, and reserving judgment altogether.
Passing judgment is the natural reaction when faced with new scenarios, but the more situations you find yourself in, the easier it’ll be to hold back on misunderstanding why things play out the way they do. In a sense, opening up to the world is the key to embracing it.
Principle 6: Willingness to try is the beginning of doing our part. However grand or humble that might be, it is a state of readiness replacing depression and anxiety.
Banking on the fundamentals of principle 5, this principle extends the importance of a willingness to allow change into your life. Both depression and anxiety are debilitating conditions that latch on to the spirit like a parasite, and as you know, are very difficult to get rid of. But the human spirit is an indomitable one; resilient by nature, it takes atmosphere-shattering heights to defeat the spirit.
One of our strongest suits, as a species, is perseverance. The resistance to giving up is one that not even the illest of wills can break easily, and I applaud each and every one of you that get up every single day and achieve something, no matter how insignificant.
Why? Because you just proved me right.
Principle 7: Faith is the evidence of our trust in God. True faith is the result of surrender coupled with experience that God can and will do for us if we ask for help.
Do as you must with Principle 7, ladies and gentlemen.
Principle 8: Tolerance is knowing the other person has the same spirit in them as us and being curious about what that spirit is trying to do.
Are we inherently good beings? This timeless question has been a hot topic in debates for millennia, and there isn’t a conclusive answer. There will probably never be. Nature vs. nurture gets brought into play, and before you know it, we’re grasping for straws again.
What I CAN tell you, however, is that every single being on this planet has the ability to do good. Redemption is a bittersweet feeling, in all angles. This ability is what binds us all, and access to one another is made easier, which is why it’s essential to the human experience.
Principle 9: Patience is taking time for things to move into place without force or breakage.
Being patient is all about letting everything in your life run its course. Organic circumstances will bear the best fruit. Of course, you’ll have to take the necessary steps to ensure a proper path, but with time, comes everything. Don’t ever let anyone else’s success discourage you from your own. Everyone is on a different rollercoaster. You may not see thrill right away, but trust me when I say that it is coming. Twists and turns galore is representative of this journey we see ourselves on. The waiting game has never been more fluid.
Principle 10: Humility is knowing the importance of doing our part well and being open to the many forms of help required for a full and abundant life.
Accepting your flaws is something that, like emphasized in principle 9, comes with time. Building an immunity to your insecurities comes with the familiarization of the way of life, and being above petty shit.
Your substance abuse can be seen as taboo by some, but others will understand the reasoning behind it, and those will be the ones that lift you out of the abyss. The bystanders will always pass judgment, while the upstanders will always try to help in any capacity.
Which one are you?
Principle 11: Unconditional love is given where we sense our spirit in another human being.
Tell someone you love them today.
It might just save their life.
Principle 12: Sharing and caring is the active and passive forms of love that keeps us alive and allowing God to use us as instruments.
Have you ever done a good deed for someone? Of course you have.
Have you ever placed someone else’s welfare before your own? Most definitely.
Personally, I do my best to make sure that everyone I know is always good. I have sacrificed my emotions, my time, and my physical well-being to ensure that those around me are in good standing. I don’t do it for praise, nor do I do it to gain something else out of it.
I do it because it’s what any decent human being would do.
I do it because I appreciate it when someone goes out of their way for me as well. The sense of camaraderie is one that isn’t so commonplace in today’s version of Earth, but it is still out there, alive.
We can all get through this life, and we can do it together. Don’t fret if you lose sight of your vision and goals, because there are people out there that can help you get back on track.
Above all, hope keeps us going. Mix that up with its cousin, faith, and you got a hell of a concoction to savor.