“Be careful what you ask for.”-Lots of people
I will be the first to tell you that I love a fancy hotel, a good wine, a nice suit, beautiful golf courses, and fruity umbrella drinks.
I am well aware that I am on this journey that, at times, appears to be this fantasy life, a vision for freedom and happiness that unfolds a little more in my head and real life every single day.
But my passion, my deep down punch me in the gut passion, couldn’t be further from all of that.
I have always wanted a voice, not for fame or fortune, but because I’m interested in those that don’t have one. I’m interested in those that are invisible or a little unique. Maybe they are lonely or a tad bit lost. Maybe they need a second or third chance. Maybe they are in pain, physical or otherwise. Maybe they’ve never been introduced to anything other than their current circumstance. Though on the surface you’d never know, deep down, I can certainly relate.
In a roundabout way, I got hooked when I would go to New York City as a teenager with my dad, exploring the city all day while he was in meetings. I was fascinated by the unglamorous neighborhoods and even the grimy areas. Who were these people that were never “seen”? I loved the sights, sounds, and smells of the subway. Out to Queens. Out to the Bronx. Who were these people?
In my early twenties, I read a ton, including this book called Gang Leader for a Day that further stoked my interest in human behavior and interaction.
At 23, my buddy Vinny and I walked down the “wrong” street in Baltimore one night, changing course just in the nick of time to avoid potential disaster.
In my mid-twenties, after making a literal wrong turn on my way to a Hawks game, I watched a man in Atlanta get shot and killed right in front of me.
In my late twenties, I participated in a poverty simulation, walking in someone else’s shoes for a month having to make tough decision after tough decision on extremely limited resources. It stressed me out beyond measure, and it wasn’t even real (for me).
Over the past two years, I have seen and felt deeply on my travels. The forgotten in Evansville, Indiana. The angry in New Orleans. The miscategorized in Tijuana and Mexico City.
About a year ago in rural Mississippi, I drove by this area of decrepit, old wooden shacks that looked like a swift breeze might blow them over. Some lacked roofs. Some lacked four walls. Surely no human being lived there.
But yes. Yes they did. Entire families. An entire community.
And then, just this week, a sweet, docile black lab showed up on the porch at Christy’s family farm.
“Who is this?” I asked anyone that would listen.
“Just another dog that was likely discarded by their owner. Happens all the time.”
Discarded. Like a piece of trash.
I know. This is what I asked for. To go see the world. The real world. To feel it. To, at an absolute minimum, truly acknowledge it exists.
Because if I drink the fine wine, I best be able to scrap in the dirt.
And maybe, just maybe, finding my own true freedom will finally convince me to go get dirty. To go help out those whose circumstances may be totally different, but knowing deep down, we are exactly the same.
Have a great week.-Benj
(If you would like a sweet black lab, please message me.)