Monday, May 9, 2016

This Is What I Deserve. This Is What I Deserve? This Is Not What I Deserve!

No Man's Land
A year prior to driving a taxi I was a minister who lived in a 4 bedroom house on a quarter acre corner lot. I was in positions of leadership with a monthly article that was shaking things up. I worked from home more often than I did in the office. I got to make my kid breakfast, take him to school, pick him up and tuck him in on most days. Life was pretty damn idyllic, but I was also miserable and the misery built until the fractures could no longer hold in the toxins.

A year later I am living in a apartment above a store and driving a taxi 72 hours a week at night. I sat in storms like this night after night in the dead of winter hoping that of the many taxi's that a commuter at 1 am would want to ride in my taxi and give me a few bucks. I would also hope that they would actually pay for their ride. 

Life got hard. I had made enemies during my time as a pastor and when life changed and got harder there were a lot of voices that used to be friends that would say I got what I deserved and said this is all I am. This was the end of the road.

Night after lonely night with exhaustion and malnutrition eating away at my health and my mind and my emotions made me believe that they were right. The few friends who were not taxi drivers had no clue how dark the night was and what it does to you and how it changes you. The only other people who get the joke are the other residents of the night behind the wheels of their taxis. 

It was within that community that friendships began to develop and we learned each others stories and found dignity in each other's eyes. We found our humanity and this led to a shift from believing the voices that said this is what I deserve to asking the question: Is this what I deserve? Do I really deserve a life who's end game will be a shortened life span that will happen in either the taxi or alone in a motel room?

The question I began to ask was better than the statement, but I never had a clear answer. Sometimes the answer was yes and sometimes it was no and sometimes it was I do not know. I began to change and to grow and to become a better man than I was. Through therapy I was facing my demons and coming to grips with not only what happened to me in life, but the things I had done in my life. I was changing for the better in many ways. Those voices, however, did not see that. They saw what was through their lens of conjecture. They always will.

Then I began to say: This is not what I deserve. Even if I were to die from a drunk driver, a robbery or alone in a motel room, it is not what I deserve. I am better than that and deserve more. I am NOT talking about the job. There is not one damn thing wrong driving a taxi, being a waiter, or any other vocation. I am referring to the indignity by those who think the service industry is the servant industry. The judgement that what you do defines who you are and how you live or have access to is somehow a reflection of your character or karma's decision on you as a human being. 

I am a human being who made mistakes. I am a human being who also has dreams and a right to dignity. We all were and they all are. I think of the drivers who died while I was associated with the world of the night. Gary did not deserve to die in a slum lord trailer from diabetes and no access to medicine. Tulley did not deserve to die from ill health as an old man driving a taxi with no health care even under the new affordable health care act. Johny Marshall did not deserve to die in a hospital room from a simple procedure gone wrong. Glenn did not deserve to die in what scares me the most, alone in a motel room. The transition of worth is a road from believing this is what you deserve to asking if this is what you deserve to finally saying this is not what I deserve. 

The job and income level does not need to change for you to have worth and dignity. Your heart does. 

When I say positive things about life and people say that I do not understand and it is easy for me to say that. No, it is not. It was a hard and long and cold road in the storms of life hoping for scraps surrounded by a cacophony of lies and judgments. Those lies will seep into the fissures of your heart and become a part of you. 

I get it. I have been there and sometimes still am. Do not listen to them and stop lying to yourself.

This is what I deserve. This is what I deserve? This is not what I deserve!

I say to you, whatever the this is.....

I know you have been told this is what you deserve. Is this really what you deserve? This is not what you deserve? 

Trust me.

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