Armageddon in Retrospect

Moments in life that seem like the end of everything are often the most powerful beginnings we will ever know.

There are certain dates that will forever be stuck in our minds, like tattoos on our memories. Some of those dates are all-inclusive to nearly everyone, depending on their age – December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963; September 11, 2001; etc. – and today is one of mine. Today is November 2nd. Four years ago today, I left freedom. Four years ago today, I had to look into the eyes of my wife as I was escorted from my life.

And I wouldn’t trade any of it, for anything.

Perhaps I harp on this point a bit too much, but I really do feel like it’s a point worth reiteration. Through all the irreparable pain my actions caused others, my family and friends have grown stronger through it all. I will never get the opportunity to rectify the wrongs I’ve done to those I’ve hurt most severely, so all I can do is seek the best for the loved ones who remain in my life. These experiences from these passed four years have built my character, given me strength, taught me how to live as I should, how to love who I should, and most important of all, given me perspective.

The end of one thing is often the beginning of another.

I used to wish I could speak again with the people from my past who have elected to distance themselves from me. I suppose I just wanted them to see how different I am, how much more I understand life, and how I am not the man I used to be. But now, I find that it matters less and less. Sure, I miss some of my friends – Iain, Paul, Darham, and even Joe (sometimes) – but I suppose the overall fact remains that these people have made the conscious choice to excommunicate me from their lives based on their assumption that I am still the atrocious person I was when my life was at its lowest. And in contrast, I have multiple friends and family who have taken the time to really get to know me – again, for the first time – and those are the ones with whom I now have great relationships. So instead of lamenting the loss of friends who are gone, I rejoice in the love of the friends who remain.

There is a lesson to be learned here. On November 2, 2012, I walked out of court and into prison, thinking my whole life was over. But the reality is, my life was just beginning. When it seems like everything has fallen apart and your life feels like it is shattered and scattered in pieces at your feet, being haphazardly trampled by passers-by, it does not mean life is over, it means life is changing. And here’s something cool I learned: You do not have to put those pieces of life back together in order to become a better human being; the act itself of kneeling down and reassembling life, piece by piece – that’s what makes you a better human being.

Look back on your life. You learned the most when you failed at something, not when you succeeded. You don’t learn how to build a car by buying one from the dealership.

Life is earned.

So the next time you fail, ask yourself why. That is how you become a stronger, smarter, and better human being. The scars we carry from a life lived and struggles overcome can tell the world more about us than an impressive resume, a wall of degrees, or a case full of trophies.

A scar is not a symbol of pain; a scar is a symbol of healing.

“The most beautiful things in the world are the things that are shattered, broken, and then mended back together.”

-John Cusack