Bad Things Can Happen To Good People

A friend of mine is in jail. Again.

I’m going to go visit him. I don’t know the full story yet. I know he’s very upset.

At me.

Which is unfortunate. In court, when they sentenced him, he called jail “Club Fed” and I wrote about it, so they showed the judge the article.

The judge said, “Well, you’re not going to ‘Club Fed’ this time.” And now he’s gone for a long time. Maybe until death.

And I don’t think he did what they are accusing him of.

The other four guys trying to kill the other guy did.

I think my friend did what he usually does: he didn’t turn anyone in. So they gave him the same sentence.

That’s what they do. If it were me, I would’ve turned them in. But he doesn’t do that.

Okay. I will visit him.

But that’s not why I’m writing this. I was thinking of jail because one of my of the readers of this blog ever since the beginning disappeared for awhile.

When he got back he told me he had just gotten out of jail. I almost fell on the floor. He was a yoga guy, healthy, always commenting on my posts. Always super positive.

What happened?

“I was stealing art,” he told me. And he told me the story.

It was painful and he did something that many people might have been tempted to do and he got caught and had to go to jail.

He asked me the other day, “How did it affect you, hearing what happened to me?”

1. I got scared. Because bad things can happen to good people.

2. We don’t live as an average. Often we live in extremes.

What does this mean? It means: on average, I’m a good, honest, ethical person.

But at extremes, most of us can be anything. Hopefully the extremes aren’t too extreme. And hopefully they only last a few moments. Which is why they are called extremes.

But EXTREME + BAD SITUATION = LIFE-RUINING (or CHANGING) EXPERIENCE.

3. Failure is not always good.

I would never want to go to jail. Everyone I’ve ever met who has been to jail says they have learned from the experience.

Not me. I’d get lonely, insecure, scared. I think. I don’t know.

We live in the era of “failure porn” right now.

“Failure is good,” says all the entre-porners. If you don’t fail, you won’t learn from your mistakes. These are quotes from people who have never failed.

When you’re scared how you’re going to get diapers for your four month old, that doesn’t feel like, “WOW! I’m going to learn something from this.”

It feels like vomit is coming out of every pore of your body.

It feels like the inside of your head has a monster that is scratching to get out and be unleashed on the world.

It feels like fear.

4. Pride.

I’m happy my friend served his time. Exercised. Read. Did all the good things you’re supposed to do, and did come out the other side more optimistic than ever.

Now he’s writing a book about his experience, which is why he asked me what I felt when I heard his story.

So I’m grateful I have a friend who turned shit into fertilizer.

And to be honest, I’m grateful he attributes some of his ability to survive the experience to things he was reading by me while he was in jail.

Which is why I told Freeway Ricky Ross, the billion dollar drug dealer who now gives talks at prisons, I’ll donate as many books of “Choose Yourself” he needs to any prison he ever talks to for the rest of his life.

5. There, but for the grace of god.

I don’t know why I feel this. I’ve never even remotely come close to doing anything against the law.

But life can be lived at the extremes. And I know that when you break out of the routine of death, things happen.

The routine of death is what takes over when life ends.

Life is when we’re all unique children. We haven’t been taught how to be an adult. An adult is when we’re all taught to be the same, to talk the same, to act the same, to live by the same routines.

The routine of death is what many people call “their daily routine.”

Once you leave the routine of death, lots of things can happen. You won’t be sitting in the average any more. You’ll get closer and closer to the extremes.

I’ve been at extremes. Both good and bad. You can’t have one without the other.

An extreme creates a story. And when you are back to “average” you can tell the story. But first you have to live it.

There but for the grace of god go I, because I have lots of stories.

6. Relief.

My friend made it out the other side. Maybe I said it before above (why re-read, why re-write my “gut impressions”). But I’m relieved he is free.

Free in body because he is out of jail. Free in spirit because the only thing that is important to him now is what he does today.

Is he healthy today? Is he around emotionally healthy people? Is he creative? Is he grateful? Every day?

I asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

Every day? 1% improvement very single day.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I am.”

And he knows the real secret now. Once you are free, you can fly. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Related

More From Thought Catalog