Dear Reader, this story cannot begin without first leaving a message for a few very special people. While the message is private, you are invited into this intimate moment as it will eventually be important to you as well:
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’ve been given the chance to speak to you here—right now, 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 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 simply seems like a sick and twisted and stupid joke. This life is laughing at you.
This reality is scary, 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.
Does this sound 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.”
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 simply 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! When you are done with these pages be assured that we will have done all these things 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 recognize 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.
Be Warned: By reading this story you will learn things about me that will surprise you—and a lot of it is not pretty. My secrets will be exposed, and you will discover things I not only kept from you, but from everyone.
Writing what I just did, I can picture those little brains of yours trying to make sense of it: Let it go. 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 our nosey readers join us there is a question that I anticipate you having once you finish this story that I’d like to address right now: I expect you will wonder why I had not shared this story with you until now.
The answer to this question is simple: I was scared.
Whether this story failed or succeeded, I risked losing time with you. Knowing this, it was safer that I do nothing with it as you were and will forever be everything to me. (It was not always this way however, so put those tissues away until you know the whole story!)
Of course, upon reflection, there certainly are things I wish I would have done differently. But mostly I regret not leaving you a better world. Unfortunately, there is no way to go back and change things now—that’s just life. This is something that 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.
Hello Dear Reader, Welcome!
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 I have been called to share. Knowing this, I am going to do my best to be considerate to those just joining us by starting over.
What you are about to read all began with a simple question: How powerful can a book be?
Many of us grew up being told that nothing was more powerful than words. “Words are the only weapons we need,” they’d say.
I actually remember a teacher telling me once that words had magical powers. But today, in a world filled with ‘LOL’s,’ I have since grown to worry that such lessons were nothing more than poisonous lies shoveled into my ignorant and childish mind.
Let us put this cynical perspective of mine aside however and instead expand on our 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???
In this technologically fueled age of ours many will argue, and rightfully so, that there simply 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, A Reader, for being part of a dying breed. Knowing that you are special, I must now ask you 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 can be like Pandora’s Box—And now, without further delay, I get to ask you: Are you ready to see what’s inside that box?
Now know this: 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. For that reason, 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 belly-rub out of the way let us begin; shall we?
“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 quit 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 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 (I am a teacher by profession if you have yet to figure that out), there were many things I wanted you to know before we began.
I created a list of “Disclaimers” that I thought readers, you, should know about me. Understanding that the words I would share may be misinterpreted, I continually modified what and how I planned to say these things. 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. So, 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. Ironically, it is why the title to this story is “SR101—The Book That Could…” If the title read instead, “Social Recovery 101” a potentially broader audience might have been scared off by its perceived seriousness. A title that instead offered wonder (SR101) opened the pages of this book to a wider audience and was deemed necessary for marketing purposes.
This insight brings me to disclaimer number one: The world has become super-sensitive to words. For that reason, I may lose some of you along this journey. My hope is that you will eventually come back (we will leave a light on for you).
Disclaimer number two: Everyone should have a G.U.N.— “In such tumultuous times it is the only thing that will keep you sane.”
And now, for my third and final disclaimer. One that I know better than to say right now but one that must be said: Are you ready?
Before I say this, I need you to know that it is going to be okay. This will be challenging but believe me when I say that we will be in this together. Alright, now that I’ve warned you, I nervously hold out my hand to you as we take this leap of faith together: Do you trust me?
Well, I hope you do, because here it is, disclaimer number three: I love Donald Trump. Yes. Him.
Whether this statement 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 supportingsomeone 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 badly that it often destroys us. We in no way support the behavior that is causing the world to crumble around them. 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 we are willing, we can support that person if we have the strength left in us to do so.
The premise of the story I am about to tell, this course, should not be a secret: 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 that it is his wealth, fame, and success that 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! Sorry.
If this means I have lost you, I apologize. But before you choose to cast me away, let me admit that I am often wrong. The truth is, with the battle lines being drawn today I believe we are fighting a war that cannot be won. Recognizing this, I would hate to lose a potential friend by standing on one side or the other.
How about we just proceed by admitting that nobody is right. Which therefore means: Everybody is also wrong.
Can we agree on that?
Assuming you’re sticking around, 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 before we begin: I am no hero. I am just another A-hole on this journey we call ‘life’.
Alrighty then, with all that out of the way: Let’s Dance…
The Teacher’s Playlist:
“…time is ticking.’”
—Bombs Away by B.o.B. (featuring Morgan Freeman)