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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

 Helen Keller

I agree with Helen. I don't think pain is without purpose. Instead of stockpiling bad experiences for future excuses, I try to learn from them. I try to change what seems to have gone wrong inside my head or soul and work toward being a good person. I don't know if it's possible to be the type of person I seem to be trying to be, but I see my constant effort to be that person as a sign that I'm at least a somewhat decent human being. That means something to me. Whatever my faults, I am trying. I want to be a virtuous person–not necessarily by biblical standards, but by the standards of human decency.

If only some of my at-risk friends understood Helen's quote. Perhaps they wouldn't be quite so quick to give in and try to do things "the easy way"–congratulating themselves on their own percieved cleverness, over "beating the system". They're not outwitting anything but their own growth as a person. For them, "trial and suffering" means getting caught. Maybe so, but it also means suffering through the pains of atonement.

I'm doing that right now–or trying to anyway. I've made stupid mistakes and now I consider my current humiliating position at X-Mart a small part of atoning for that. The rest–trying to help people, trying to be kinder, and more understanding of others–that's just me, trying to be the ME I would have been ages ago, if I'd been a little more aware of things. Problem is, I dulled my own perceptions in an effort to filter out the chaos. Now, I just want to close my eyes–stop seeing so much–yet I can't. Maybe that's just more of my atonement too. I may end up stronger because of it. Strong and virtually friendless, all the same.

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