I was at an event recently and ran into two adult men who attend a self-improvement class I teach weekly. These middle-aged men were recently released from prison and are finding their way in an organization, called Homeboys, where ex-gang members get to start over.
The event was for the volunteers at Homeboys, of which I am one. So, seeing my two students made me feel right at home, even more comfortable than all the other volunteers there, of which I knew few.
Setbacks Can Change Our Course in Life
In fact it was great to see my students, they feel like friends and I love them for who they are. During our talk they told me that they are each working on something special to them, their GED. You know, a high school equivalency test.
They both said that by the time the 18-months Homeboys program is up, they will have studied enough to pass this exam. I asked them how it was going and they talked about learning math and English.
Their freshness was lively and beautiful. They talked like they were new to learning and really getting something out of it. It wasn’t just memorizing info to pass a test, but they showed a real sense that they too can accomplish something important for themselves.
Don’t Get Caught Up On “Would Have, Could Have, Should Have…”
But then I heard both of them talk about what they should have done earlier in their life, you know, finish high school then, instead of delaying something they didn’t know they needed for decades.
This got me thinking about how we hold ourselves responsible for not achieving something we might believe we need later in life. I watched as these two men felt a little bad that their circumstances got in the way of this current clear thinking. And then I realized that this doesn’t matter. Their lament doesn’t help.
Be Grateful for What You Have, Instead of Regretting What You Don’t
And that’s when I knew what the next class would be about, searching and finding ourselves and being grateful for where we are now. Not holding ourselves to a higher standard that is really about someone else’s anyway.
These two beautiful souls are succeeding. They are taking the steps and doing something big. Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that enough? Isn’t it OK that the people exerting effort feel good about themselves, without comparing what they are doing now with what they should have done before?
Yes, it is OK: in fact it’s perfect. It is wonderful to begin again. It is wonderful to find ourselves and it is wonderful to say hello to the new us, fresh, alive and now.
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