Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.” – Clive Barker, Days of Magic, Nights of War
Last week I went to New York to, among other things, spend a day at Defy Ventures teaching entrepreneurship to ex cons. It was a cause after my own heart, as those of you who know me are aware, I spent two years in a federal prison. I know the challenges these people are facing in the work force, socially and in their own self esteem around the stigma of their past.
I also know how it feels to be a survivor, a born entrepreneur, a misfit in the world of traditional employment.
Truth: Selling drugs was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The money was great, the hours were flexible, getting high was a perk and I got to tap into a kind of power that, at the time, my life was missing. People came to me to procure a thing they valued highly. I felt useful and important.
Of course, dealing drugs isn’t the best creative outlet, it is unsustainable and the customers are not always helped by the product in any holistic kind of way. Your colleagues are other drug dealers and they are infuriatingly unprofessional sometimes.
But the feeling of doing something that really matters to someone is no small feeling.
This is not a power that should be dismissed. This is actually the power of revolutionary thinking.
It can be the sprouting of life in a dead field. A miracle in the face of impossibility. Humor that lightens grief or the polarity that creates electricity.
Perhaps there isn’t much that’s beautiful about having to go to prison. On the surface and even down a few layers, the experience is pretty awful. Every cell of a being revolts at the idea of being convicted, stripped and confined. The freedom to walk through gates, nurse our babies, sleep late into the morning or stay up all night feels like a birthright. Prison also houses a particular kind of absurdity, a relaxing into the inevitable which can be a nearly spiritual surrender. I have had some of my saddest moments there, also some of my most gut-busting bouts of laughter.
So this is the purity that I got to witness during my day at Defy Ventures. A whole population of seekers and survivors being given the structure and the support they need to channel their incredible power into a creative rather than destructive direction.
And changing directions, for anyone, when you really get down to business, is just a shift in the stories you tell yourself, how you tell your story to others, what you choose to share and what you don’t. The way you function around the stories you are hiding, the ones that, whether or not you like it are dominating your personality anyhow.
During my day at Defy, we talked about how to tell their prison story in a way that engenders compassion and support, instead of judgment and fear. How they can go forward into their businesses with the confidence that they are not ruled by the negative aspects of their past, but by the powerful aspects of them.
And that they are not alone. Everyone is hiding from the things that we feel ashamed of. We are self protective pain averse. Judgment, rejection and failure are scary.
All of us.
And while you may never have ever been arrested (Though I totally want to hear about it if you have), you absolutely have a story of desire, need, fear and the ways that you have failed in your search for acceptance. You have lost and grieved and bled.
And yet you are still here, waking up every day and making a play for love.
That is immense, darling. That is glue.
Answer in the comments on the blog, or in an email to me.
Need more help working through and rewriting the stories that are in the way of your health and success? Perhaps we should be working together. Email me and we can set up a free consultation.
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