I have learned that no matter how far down you fall you can still find good in your life.
After experiencing three stokes, cancer surgery, addiction problems, bankruptcy, and homelessness, I can tell you that the key to a good life is to know yourself, be yourself and love yourself.
I have had three strokes, four heart attacks and two car accidents that I was unscratched in while the cars were demolished. I have a pace-maker defibulator implant to keep me from having heart failure again. I have died twice and come back to life. I was missed by two inches in a drive by shooting. I was robbed twice. (A third time, I talked the robber out of $5.00.) I was in between the police and drug dealers when shooting broke out.
I have gone from earning a good income to homeless, three different times. I have lived in the suburbs and the inner city — living in the roughest neighborhoods in Detroit. But I was happiest when I was homeless.
I went from being with the rich to being with the poor. Presently, most of my friends are addicts, former addicts, street people — society’s invisible ones. When you are poor you know who your friends are. I once had the street name The Crazy Old White Man. Now those in the streets call me Mr. Lee.
I’ll never forget the time, after I had cancer surgery on the right side of my head, when I went into the drug store, bald on the right side, with long hair on the left. My face was red and swollen. It was 2 days after Christmas. I saw a little girl with her mother. The both smiled and said hello to me, even though I made the Frankenstein monster look handsome.
I looked into the mother’s eyes and saw her inner beauty. I said, ”You are the most beautiful woman I have seen all year.”
She said, “You are the most handsome man I have seen all year.”
On the way home, a homeless man came up to me and said, “Mr. Lee, I want your to know that while you were in the hospital those of us in the street were praying for you and that no matter where you are in the streets, we have your back.”
To me those two events not only made my day but they also made my life valuable.
Life is what you make of it. With your mind you can control physical and mental pain. You can control your addictions. You can make sad times lead to happy times.
After the third time I went broke, I realized that God wanted me to stay down and help the lost souls to find themselves and their way back up. I have helped some. I listen to them and advise them. I show that I care about them and am there for them.
I have been in contact with many people in prison. I have seen that, in spite of the system, there are many bad people who are now good people and could help others find their way.
In my life I have found that everyone has good and bad in them. Like the old cartoons, we all have the angel and devil fighting for control. I have never met a person in whom I could not find the good.
You determine your destiny. You determine your happiness.
Again I say Know yourself, be yourself and love yourself. That is the key to being clean and sober. That is the key to happiness.
Lee Gaylord is the creator of an audio book, Words of Wisdom From the Crazy Old White Man From the Hood.