Where do I start with this one? Hmmm...in just the past couple of days, I noticed there was a new "fan" on the Gusto page I created on Facebook, a young man who lived right next door to me in Elkhart, KS. I think he's around 17 and his father has a very successful construction business in S.W. Kansas, doing all kinds of work including home and commercial buildings. His mother is a teacher at the local school district and she knew my children well when they lived there in the '05-'06 school year.
For the sake of privacy, I will call this young man "Rex." When I saw that he joined, I sent him a private message on facebook thanking him and this was his reply: "I was just really inspired how you have overcome all of this and even started a website about it! Hope all is well for you."
Two words stand out with that reply: INSPIRED and HOPE. I can't express enough how many times I have heard the word inspired when people have interacted with me over the past two years. It goes back to the very beginning in June 2008 and keeps growing exponentially every day. A good friend here in SoCal I referred to in an earlier post has been telling me for months: "Gus, people are INSPIRED by not just your story but the way you tell it. This is your calling. People NEED inspiration in their lives these days."
The other one of course is hope. Without hope, we're lost. There's so many words, things, possessions, things we value that stand out in our lives but without some measure of hope embedded deep in our conscious, there really isn't any point in living. It reminds me of the final time I went back to the half-way house in Liberal, Kansas in early March of this year shortly before I left Kansas for California. I went there to attend the weekly AA meeting held every Friday night at the house, a goodbye if you will and since the meetings are "open", I thought it only fitting to do so. There were only 6 or 7 people there at the time, including the house manager. One of the guys that was present was one that lived there in November 2008 when I was there. He saw me come in and said "Gus, great to see you! Are you going to talk tonight? You always had such great things to say and I always looked forward to hearing what you had to share."
Later, when the meeting started, the house manager decided it was going to be "stick" night. Stick night is when everyone draws what looks like a tongue depresser from a jar that has one word written on it that each one of us was supposed to talk about and how it applied in their life. I don't recall what mine was but I definitely remember what one young man's was. He was only 20 or so, and I noticed immediately he was a "newbie" there, meaning he just arrived. That "look" that everyone has, one of fear, the deer in the headlight look, as it were. I introduced myself to him before the meeting started and did in fact find out that he had arrived only the day before. He had caught his first DUI. I shared with him very openly my story and I remembered thinking man, this kid needs some HOPE in his life. He seems desperate, lost, and so alone.
But back to the stick. When he pulled his out and announced what his word was, I nearly jumped out of my chair. And then he spoke, very softly, very briefly, and when he ended his short speech I remember him distinctly saying, "All I can do is HOPE." That was his word on his stick and THAT's when I LEAPED out of my chair and began excitedly telling him and everyone there about all the lessons I had learned over months and months. I don't recall everything I said but I remember how INSPIRED I was, the feeling that came over me as I was speaking.....I wasn't just sharing, I was TEACHING.
When I finished I remember looking him in the eyes. His look had changed. He was still fearful but I could see a glint of HOPE in his eyes. And then several people clapped, something that NEVER used to happen when I was there.
My point? I'm not certain but it comes back I think to what my good friend here in SoCal has been telling me for months. "Gus, you have a tremendous amount of knowledge that you need to share with this world. But Elkhart, Kansas isn't the place to do it. You're stagnating there. It's here where your destiny is."
Two young men. One from Elkhart, Kansas, a neighbor who lived right next door to me and knows my story intimately, mostly from my own actions when I lived there from August 2005 until June 2008 and when I came BACK to the scene of the crime, for lack of a better term, in June 2009 to prove to MYSELF first and to those there that I was a much better man than what they had seen before. And a young man in Liberal, Kansas, one who didn't know me from Adam, but needed to hear a message of HOPE.
But now that message of INSPIRATION has returned to Rex in Elkhart, Kansas, compliments of this blog and website. It is my HOPE then, that he will share this message with others, so that others may find some inspiration in their lives, something that they can hope for, a reason to LIVE life as God intended them to be.
I have a feeling that this particular post about Elkhart, Kansas is just the first of more to come in the days and weeks ahead.