What do YOU do with that?

Where does the past, when you do not expect it, lead you to a better tomorrow?

Few times I like to completely bare exactly how I feel – but there are moments when it was just the right thing to do.

In this very difficult time we find ourselves in that can bring so many to places of no return – often the past is the most important thing we have to remind ourselves, a better tomorrow depend on the pasts we all have had.

Too many times in my life I have seen, heard, felt, and experienced individuals that think only of one thing, themselves. I have also born witness to the fact that those people have so many ups and downs in their lives, they, to me seem pitiful, sad, alone, and stealing moments from others that deserve so much more.

As I find myself in the middle of a 25 pushup a day challenge for 25 days, it is QUITE easy to trivialize this into the social media square of a social media stint that is 1 of 30 000 we see in the social media frenzy we see today.

Yet, as I was working through my second day of 25 pushups and realizing how out of shape I was …

…I was taken back to a rainy, night, late, being called from a dear and troubled friend who needed someone to talk to, and as of late he kept repeating the mantra that he felt no reason for life as he was experiencing it, and my continued mantra reassuring him his life DID matter, despite the hurdle after hurdle experience he was facing – several days later I received a call in the wee hours of the AM from his parents informing me he had just committed suicide and that splitting, empty moment, still reappears to me on the rainiest of rainy nights. I still go back over and over wishing I had done many things differently and would have traded the self destructive relationship I was in at the time for moments that I felt would have mattered to change the paths that had unraveled at that moment in time.

Flashbacks of how devastated I was to realize my Father had suddenly disappeared from my life and all the things I had taken for granted and never had said, because we just became used to how we were around each other, never vocally putting into words certain sentiments – and the feeling that we would always have the time to say and do what we wanted. I distinctly remember at that point knowing I was already changed and inside felt as if I w as always simply drifting, not really ever knowing how to take what had happened and get past that second major loss. I also distinctly remember vowing to live a life that would easily symbolize two other’s lives, those representing my friend David, and for my Dad.

I distinctly remember a day in Mexico City, watching the Presidential election, hearing the words that put down, disgraced, and defamed individuals that had took me in as family, fed me when I often had little to nothing on the table as I learned my way, individuals that did not match the very description that was being painted by a future leader of a country a continent away. I was ashamed, I felt betrayed, I felt as if my life had it not been in the proper location, would have been at risk as being lumped into having those same sentiments as being a representative of a country that was putting down those in a country that had taken me in, embraced me, saved me, and looked out for me. I never have quite forgotten how those words, actions, and persona made me feel and know to this day I would have never realized that feeling had I not actually been in Mexico at the time.

12th grade- I distinctly remember being told by my Guidance counselor that it was a good thing that I was as in the situation that programs existed that would accept kids like me that were too poor to go onto college. I vaguely remember the way it made me feel, making me feel as if I had very little to offer for any type of bright and potential future. I had always not really taken school seriously and considered it nothing more than a large social experience, because I craved and loved being around people so much, and never had been reinforced from parents that school was the most important thing and everything else came after. It had always been about the people in our lives and then everything else came after. I would not realize until much later how that feeling and what would be a challenge to prove that guidance counselor wrong, and that would serve me well, and help me find my way amid a chaotic and unplanned path, and to this day it has served as my conscious compass.

The time my high school friend and I would often sit around the table in the evening, and believe it or not, with my Mom, and we would go round and round rehashing how he should not be so hard on himself because despite being “good enough” for someone who turned his affections aside, he had so much to offer anyone – he just could never accept it because the one person he longed to have kindness returned to, refused to acknowledge what we saw in him. He was, and still is, one of the funniest and smartest individuals I have ever met, he deserves the self esteem of a mountain.

I remember the last time I saw my brother and sisters before I lost them to cancer and also recall how amazingly timely it was that I had decided to return to the United States from Mexico, and not knowing this would unfold in front of me. If I would not have been able to see either of them when I did, I now feel I would not have been able to come to terms with the period I had found myself gone for the length of time I had been gone. The same year I had returned from Mexico, the very individual who had hired me in Mexico, and represented everything I was seen and loved about taking time to give everyone a moment, the long-standing individual who had come to represent everything I knew and felt about The American School Foundation, had passed away shortly after taking his absence from a position he had held for what had seemed the life of the school itself.

I could go on and one and not just tell my stories, but relate the life altering stories of students I met and knew relied on meals we found for them and their families, the heartaches of abuse, neglect, bullying, and so many more things that fill the world we find ourselves in now that truly tie themselves to the issues of depression, anxiety and mental illness. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see Dane’s (my rescued pitbull/boxer mix) eyes look into mine, and remember the night he came to me bloody, in a box, saved from a group of people kicking him trying to break his ribs, running him over for a car – a man who ran into the middle of this bunch and rescued him risking his own life, and driving three hours to my apartment in Mexico, and me 98% sure this poor shaking, bloody dog would not make it until the next day and now, years later, seeing him thrive and eat up any and all attention he could receive from everyone he met.

I am only on day 5 of the pushup challenge and see this realization of what can be, and yet what some people are satisfied with and stand by and do nothing but hurt, inflict negativity, continue to thrive on talking down others, holding grudges, bringing others down, refusing to meet each other in the middle, refusing to respect each other’s right to agree to disagree, and simply stain a life that could be so positive, and make it so negative.

With every piece of trash I pick up, every friend I take time out of my life to bring up, provide a good day for, and simply try to think of another, each of the above that have become a part of my past, that could have led to a continued state of depression, anxiety, and a prolonged state of mental illness, thank goodness did not thanks to the family, friends, students, colleagues, and so many more that believed I could get through some pretty dire moments I never saw myself getting through. Ever.

I simply wish more people would use social media, use their day, use their time off, use their holidays, use their pasts to pass along., pay forward kindnesses that will stay with those around them and bring others up and push them into a better tomorrow, rather than taking the energy, time, and initiative to bring others down that they might not see eye to eye with, or agree with, or consider below their station in life.

What do YOU do with these life changing moments and the chance to improve someone else’s life, instead of always looking how to make a better day, life, year, moment for yourself? One of the largest discoveries I have made in the life is to live as if I have no more days left, and as I have been trying to live the life of at least two others, if not more, I have found my life has been positive and better thanks to the time I have taken for others along the way.

In a time when it is too easy to be divisive, isolating, vengeful, and selfish, the time to consider those effects on others, other than yourself, and realize the very real aspects of mental illness, anxiety, and depression will lead each of us along very different paths. What will YOU do with that realization? Tear down the world and those around you or choose to bring others up and change the world around us for the better? As for me- I have some pushups to do – and am grateful for the chance to recall how I have been able to make it this far in my life thanks to the sacrifices so many have been willing to give for me.

Day #5 of the 25 pushup challenge, here I come…and the person I challenge tonight is…well you will just have to check it out on my – yep you got it, Facebook page 🙂 Here’s to bettering the world around us for thinking of others along the way, in a time we need it most.


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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