Experience: I was introduced to weed and wine when I was 11 years old by a group of older boys, I thought were cool. I was their runner (the youngest member had to go get the weed and wine). I would go to one end of my block and buy weed from the local dealer, and then to the other end of the block to get the local wino, who lived in cardboard boxes next to the liquor store, to buy the wine for me. One day, as I made my usual run, I gave the wino the money for the wine, plus an extra quarter. He took the money and the quarter, took a couple of steps toward the liquor store, turned around, and came back to me and said, “Young blood, you’re about to get a chippie.” I still hear his words even today; in the slang of the day, this wise old man was trying to warn me that if I continued to use, I would end up like him. But when I looked at him with my 11-year-old eyes, instead of listening to his message, I just saw him as a no-nothing drunk, a raggedy wino with a cardboard “house”. Now I wonder, what if I had listened to him? Would addiction never have become part of my life? I truly don’t know what would have happened, but that long-ago event taught me that if you “Judge the Messenger, the Message Gets Lost.”

Strength: I have learned that education, experience, and know-it-all-ism can sometimes blind us to the knowledge that others have to offer. Life sends us all kinds of messengers. No matter what their education, ethnic background, age, gender, or financial standing may be, they’ve something to tell us, and our judgements of them get in the way.

Hope: I pray for humility each day so that the wonders of life, and the messages it sends through its many messengers, can provide me with the knowledge that brings me closer to serenity.

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