My life as a criminal is over, as a productive and respectable member of society life for me has only just begun as it is clear, at least to me, that this path of growth and self improvement is one I will continue down.
I set out to write to you about how the past year of my life has been a complete turn around for me and I have found that there aren't words poignant enough to express the deep regret I feel about what happened and my actions. I look back and see a completely different person, except for the part of me that was at times both passionate and altruistic.
What happened, happened. And whatever one's interpretation of that may be; it was a mistake and a deeply regrettable one at that. What matters now is that where I was in my life was not and is not where I want to be with my life. While where I am now is also neither, it is not where I was and is on the way to becoming the role model I wanted to have when my life had taken its turn for the worse.
This is merely my plea to you to be both understanding and merciful. As for what happened: a memory, an experience, (a bad one at that) and a stepping stone. I remember hearing an old saying about how a person is born with two bags, one full of luck and another bag labeled experience and it is empty and how the trick to life is to fill the latter before the former runs out. But unfortunately another old adage also rings true: how good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. My point is that I was both young and inexperienced and this experience has taught me many valuable lessons I will pull from to guide myself more successfully through the rest of my life. I feel confident in saying that I am ashamed looking back and hopeful postulating about the future. As with all stepping stones, I think a fair amount of shame goes into every person's life as a means by which to strive for better. So please, allow this young life a mistake. Illegal activities may be a part of the world we live in but I now see the sadness in that sorry fact and I assure you, such dubiousness will not again have a place in my life.
The consequences of my actions are already deeply rooted and shall weigh heavy on me for the rest of my life. I have no excuses, just remorse. Remorse and a wish that such a youthful stupidity as a first offense were not so devastating for someone already trying so very hard to make a decent and honest start to life. Job prospects, already drying up due to a slumping economy, have dried up entirely in light of the felony I now have on my record. Paying off my college education has been tough, though I haven't missed a payment yet.
What seems to matter now is what has been gained and what can be gleaned from this whole ordeal. Where I was at that point in my life was not a good place, was not where I ever want to be again. I lived a life I would not want to be endured by weak or strong minds as 'the only option.' Living on the road, following work, I thought was a good path. There were "interesting people" and "lively experiences" not to mention the "good pay" one got for the long arduous hours and sleepless night wondering when the next time you'd be able to shower would be or when you'd next be woken up to fix hydraulic equipment to meet safety regulations since the inspector would be coming for a surprise visit in the morning. I was stupid to have glorified that life in my head. It was a grueling menial life full of endless days of arduous physical, psychological and emotional turmoil.
I remember one night, working crowds of people for the profits I never saw, feeling giddy about the smallest things. It was truly a joy to me to make others happy simply by having them play a game and encouraging them to try until they succeeded. I never realized it then but it was my own lack of happiness I was replacing with theirs, my own lack of accomplishment I was seeking empathy for. People, more specifically, making them happy, was my true addiction. And when the inevitable realization of failure set in, I didn't know what to do. I have since found a better thing in life. I should have picked myself up and tried again. I recently heard an anonymous quote that I'm sure will stick with me: "Try, fail, try again, fail better." and to me this means one should not worry about failures or pending disasters, but should instead do one's best to use knowledge and experience to avoid making future failures repetitively disastrous.
Where I actually wanted to be; a far off dream, seemed hopeless. It was a place where a warm bed, a solid roof, and a decent meal, are givens. A life where I can work with my mind and my hands, having knowledge and skill that is of value. I want to be able to afford the liberty to help those in need. I have a passion for both the homeless and for birds. I have lived with and had what I called friends among both and want to see myself one day providing sanctuary for them. Hopeless now seems such a strong term.
A roof and a real job; despite my dreams of providing sanctuary, seemed unattainable. Especially amid a recession. A year later I nervously laugh at my own short-coming of having been so near-sighted. I have two jobs now. A third and possibly fourth to start shortly. And the people I work with at the current two jobs love me as I'm sure they will at the soon to begin other two. I intend to stick with these jobs and with them fund a return to academia. I'm correcting a mistake I made my first round of education and selecting very carefully a career to educate myself before taking classes.
I'm currently paying off my bachelor's degree and am proud to mention that even as my payments have risen the past three years, I haven't missed a single wretchedly painful payment yet. While this past year has been the most expensive in terms of those payments it has also been the least painful because of my own dedication to a better life and a better way of living it. I've become determined to lead a more productive, conscientious life-style. I've been determined to find and hold steady jobs and to lead a more productive life. I have seen results from this change in personal goal foci and look forward to continuing to better myself.
Not only am I successfully paying my bills, I've a place I can call a home of my own. A roof, though shared with co-workers of mine that is consistent, earned and most importantly stable. Also I've found the time to volunteer to various causes. From little benefits, like Dodgeball for Zach and Relay for Life to hands-on, skill-oriented work with putting together a local seasonal attraction; something I've done with other companies as a paid partner before. I told you perhaps, of my volunteer work with a local haunted house. My work with them has earned me a paid position with the company which will be (of course) running through late September and all of October. It is my hope and theirs that I can be around to continue to have a greater hand in the success of running the event.
Where I am in my life, I admit is not anywhere near where I want to be; however I now have a plan. Where I am is nowhere near where I was. But I am farther from that dismal past with each day. I've taken many positive steps towards a stable life and have become a productive member of society. I have surrounded myself with positive influences and have involved myself with causes that give me purpose and hope. I'm doing my best to share that feeling of hope and feel now as though I am an integral part of something greater and very positive.
I suppose this is as good a time as any to plead with you.
Yes, I was stupid. As many of us do, I made an awful mistake. The remorse I feel weighs heavy on my every action. Impedes the most basic of needs such as getting hired to a regular job and climbing the so-called corporate ladder. Yet I have found other answers to my problems through supportive friends and co-workers and others, all of whom I can only justly describe as family. But jail at this juncture, now that I've done so much to make amends and fix my erroneous way? After I have found gainful employment such that I can work to pay off any fines deserved. I have spent time working for free that others may glean gainful employment from those hours I've spent. Knowing that it was following the only work I could find at the time which sent me on the road and into the den of so many persons with questionable values. Anything more than probation, hefty fines, even house arrest after I've gone so far from the terrible place I was in my life towards the reform I have already set myself to, would be ... as I can only think to explain it here ~ a bad end.