***Dear Reader, please consider me your Guide for this little journey of ours. For now, my name is not important, just know that I will be a voice stepping into the story to explain a few things at pivotal moments. Here we have a saying: “Never underestimate the stupidity of humans.” I share this so that you might understand that these little interruptions are for your benefit. If you find knowing this upsetting, I apologize, but I’m not here to be nice, I’m here to tell you the truth. Jose, as you will see, lived his whole life trying to be nice—and “good”. Let us together go see how that turned out for him.
The letter you are about to read was written by Jose. It was intended to be private and not originally part of his story. It has been decided however that you should be invited into this intimate moment as it will eventually be important to your overall understanding in the end.***
To My Children,
I am alive again. More alive than I had been my entire life as I look out at you. I can see those ears of yours perk up as these words reach them. My spirit leaps with excitement knowing that I have been given the chance to speak to you here, when we need each other the most.
Life is hard and the world around you is in ruins. Your heart feels broken. The light that shines through you, which I love, is flickering, threatening to be extinguished permanently. Darkness is setting in.
Perhaps you are now worried that this life was not made for dreams but for nightmares. You are hoping that things cannot get any worse but wondering if they do how long you can endure. The solid rock that served as a foundation to your existence has fallen and you have lost faith in tomorrow. All of what you think you knew now seems like a sick and twisted and stupid joke.
This life is laughing at you.
This reality is scary, I know, but from now on we are in this together, and we will survive. Actually, you are going to do a lot better than simply survive, but I want you to iron in this feeling of simply wanting to survive. Do not forget how it feels. Do not forget about others that feel this way. Do not forget how important what you become, and what you do, and what you represent, is going to be for them. People will remember you for the nice things you do, not the nice things you have… never forget that.
All of this probably sounds silly to you. I knew it would. And unfortunately, I’m about to make things worse by saying something that you won’t yet understand: You are going to become super-heroes in this world… and with this power will come great responsibility.
(Yup! I said it!)
Hopefully I have done my job well and prepared you to carry others on your shoulders. Hopefully I have taught you how to love without judgement, to care without expectation, and to dream without fear. As this new world is going to need you to do all three of these things.
Do not be mistaken, I am not here to offer some fairy tale version of salvation. This is not a commercial for life, intended to blind you with delusions in order to sell you something with the promise of making the delusions a reality. If you are hurting, then be hurt. If my words piss you off, then be pissed. If you want to just laugh at me, then go for it. In the end we will have done all this and much more…just like old times. But if you want to get a jumpstart right now by doubting me, then do what you have to do. I will wait. I’m not going anywhere.
In truth, there is no way to know how old you are by the time this message reaches you. Just realize that what you are about to read is meant to carry you through some of the difficult times ahead and guide you into a reality unimaginable at the moment.
Writing what I just did, I can picture those little brains of yours trying to make sense of it. Let it be. For now, all you must do is believe me when I tell you that everything will make sense in the end…. You do still trust me, right?
Before you read this story of mine, please understand that there were certainly things I wish I would have done differently in life. And remember, just because I’m your father doesn’t mean I am infallible (go look it up). Mostly, however, I regret not leaving you a better world, but sadly, there is no way to go back and change things now—that’s just life. This is something I hope you keep in mind as you move forward in yours.
And with that message I leave my story in your hands. What you do with it will be your decision. I hope that it has the power to change your reality.
—Now Go Fly—With Love, Your Father.
***Dear Reader, as you have already gathered, we are not going to be alone here as prying eyes and ears will be attempting to dissect much of the story that now lies ahead of us. Knowing this, I will do my best to be considerate by intruding as little as possible moving forward. With that said, let this story now begin as Jose—The Real GOOD Loser—originally intended.***
What you are about to read all started with a simple question: How powerful can a story be?
A question that I considered when a character in some show I was watching claimed that nothing in the world was more powerful than a good story. “Nothing can stop it, no enemy can defeat it,” this character said. Which presented the other characters in this show with another question: “Who among us has the greatest story to tell?”
This discussion on screen made me think of a teacher who once told me that words had magical powers and that writing was mankind’s greatest achievement. “Humanity has yet to fully grasp the power of story or its potential,” this teacher asserted. Then added, “The reason some are so good at bending men towards their will is they know the power of a story and how to harness it to its own ends.”
But today—in a world filled with LOL’s and scrolling videos—I worry that all of this might have just been lies shoveled into my ignorant and childish mind. Putting aside my pessimism, let us expand on my original question a bit further by considering three things.
One. Why, historically, have books been considered dangerous?
Two. Why, in some dystopian literature, are books often outlawed in future civilizations?
And Three. Why, in heaven’s sake, would people ever be scared of a book—or a story?
In this technologically fueled age of ours many will argue, and rightfully so, that there are not enough people taking time to read books for them to truly impact our world today. This is a rationale statement and gives me the opportunity to congratulate you for being part of a dying breed. Knowing that you are special, I must now ask whether or not a book has ever changed your life? And expand on that by asking if you can think of a book that has ever changed the direction of humanity as a whole?
Surely your answers to these questions will spark some memories that are unique to your personal experiences thus far. But did you actually stop and take the time to think about the questions? Or did you rush to find out where I’d be taking our conversation next?
That is the problem is it not? We are all in a rush. A rush to get things done. A rush to have things understood. A rush to know what’s next. Life is a funnel of experiences and we hold it to our minds attempting to drown ourselves in its wonder. Maybe this is not how you approach life, but surely you can see a world that overwhelmingly approaches life in this manner.
With that being said, let my intentions here be clear: I have come today to argue that a good book or story can be like Pandora’s Box. And now, without any further delay, I get to ask you: Are you ready to see what’s inside that box?
I am not a fool—not completely. I understand that sneaking up on you and saying such a thing might turn you off before we even get a chance to begin. Nobody likes to be forced into listening to someone that sounds so pompous—Or do they? Regardless, I have decided to lube you up a little with a poem first… I’ve been told it helps:
This poem is titled “The Never-Ending Story;”
It has been created to ease your worry.
For a new Class is now in session.
A course created by obsession.
Click by click, bullets are fired into the future.
Questions you will have, that’s for sure.
Now, as you proceed,
Understand that the lessons you read,
Simply create a story WE need.
Just one teacher’s attempt to diverge,
So that a new hope may emerge.
A leap of faith that we all can grow,
In a belief that we are more alike than you know.
Scroll to discover that anything is possible.
If only WE become responsible.
Just remember that to read,
Patience you will need,
As this teacher plants a seed.
For what you are about to begin is a story that starts at the end;
Presenting a battle of the mind that requires a sense of humor and wonder to comprehend.
Well, with that little belly-rub out of the way, let’s start with a quote:
“We are now perched on a strange cusp of history. A time when the world feels like it’s been turned upside down and nothing is quite as we imagined. But uncertainty is always a precursor to sweeping change. Transformation is always preceded by upheaval and fear. I urge you to place your faith in the human capacity of creativity and love. Because these two forces, when combined, poses the power to illuminate any darkness.”
It would be wonderful if a leader appeared in our world, spoke these words, and magically saved us all from the misery that is difficult for many to see past today. Unfortunately, we do not live in the movies, and there is no Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne armed with billions of dollars, the intelligence and the sexiness to persuade people of this world to follow him into battle. Instead, this quote was taken from a novel by Dan Brown titled ‘Origin.’ I chose to use it here because I want to believe it applies to our world and is not simply a set of random words strung together to make a novel, and character in it, more compelling.
In preparing this story—which began as a class—there were many things I wanted readers know before we began, and so I created a list of disclaimers. Understanding that the words I would share may be misinterpreted, I continually modified what and how I planned to say these disclaimers. This happened to me over and over. Unfortunately, I became so worried about offending someone that my message began to feel suffocated. I jokingly began referring to this as the Disclaimer Dilemma.
This list quickly got out of hand and I begrudgingly accepted that it would ruin the flow of our story, so I scrapped it…mostly.
Writing is a scary endeavor. As the author here one thing that continually terrified me was the thought that my voice would get misconstrued as those of some of the characters you will be meeting shortly. Because of this, I have decided to speak to you personally for a moment and limit my disclaimers to only three.
I accepted the job of writing this because I was convinced by a good friend that we are all “in recovery” from something. This is such a cliché term that many reading it will be offended. It’s why I toyed with calling this story “SR101,” instead of Social Recovery 101. I thought that the mystery of this alternative title might open the pages of this book to a wider audience; to those people that may be turned off by the perceived seriousness of this book. Ultimately, I stuck with the original title, but I will forever wonder whether or not changing it could have helped in selling more books.
This insight brings me to DISCLAIMER NUMBER ONE: Humanity has become super-sensitive to words.
Just take a look at the headlines we often see. The people creating them know that the words they use to get our attention is often more important than the information they are trying to share with us. (FYI. There is actually a word for this: it’s called Sensationalism.)
DISCLAIMER NUMBER TWO: Everyone should own a G.U.N.
In such tumultuous times this is the only thing that will keep a person sane. (Something a student we will be meeting shortly taught me.)
And now, for my third and final disclaimer. The one that might really hurt to hear…
DISCLAIMER NUMBER THREE: I love Donald Trump. — Yes. Him.
Whether this disclaimer tickles your pickle, or makes you want to punch me through the page, it is important that you let me explain myself first.
Ask anyone that has stood beside someone struggling with an addiction whether or not loving and supporting someone suffering from such an affliction is the same thing. It is not. We want the best for the person we love even when we disagree with their actions so strongly that it often destroys us. But we in no way support the behavior that is causing the world to crumble around this person. We are often helpless however, so all we can do is love them and hope that they will one day see the light and come back to us. Then, if they do, we can support that person if we have the strength left in us to do so.
The world has changed so drastically—over whatever timespan you choose to look at—that we are all in recovery…from something. Yes, every single one of us. And like a fingerprint, what we are recovering from is unique for each and every person. For Donald Trump, let us say it is his wealth, fame, and success he is trying to recover from. Do not laugh. Though many of us cannot imagine it, dealing with these things present challenges that manipulate the ways in which we interpret reality.
The 2016 election of Donald Trump reminded everyone on this planet that anything is possible. For that I am grateful and can say “I love him.” Do I support him? —HELL NO!
With that said, my opinion of this man shouldn’t mean much to you. For if you do decide to read my story you will discover I’ve been wrong about a lot lately. How about we just proceed by admitting that nobody is right regarding our opinion of this man… Or even the state of the world in general?
This of course would mean everybody is wrong. Can we at least agree on that? Probably not— Let’s be real.
Assuming you haven’t run away yet, this now brings me to the last thing I want to get off of my chest before we begin.
It is said the author is the hero of all of the stories they tell. I remember hearing this once and it has stuck with me. So, if by chance this story is a success, I need one thing to be made perfectly clear: I am no hero: I am just another asshole on this journey we call life—just like you.
And with that final disclaimer, let the magic begin….
The Teacher’s Playlist:
“Time is ticking.”
—Bombs Away by B.o.B. (featuring Morgan Freeman)