Before I begin my regularly scheduled post, I'd like to share an awesome bloghop going on over at I am a reader, not a writer. It's spring cleaning time and readers are giving away books!
This weekend I met a sixteen-year-old boy. Our conversation went something like this...
"Your neighborhood looks quiet," I said.
"Nah, it's full of violence. I hear gunshots sometimes and don't go outside much. I'm so tired of it. My friends don't include me when they go out, or invite me to go anywhere anymore."
The sadness in his voice tore through me. It was as if he'd lost all hope. There was something more underlying his melancholy, something deeper than his lack of friends. He was on the verge of giving up. I knew that this was a pivotal moment in his life, and I feared that if a gangmember would mess with him, he'd break. He'd end up stepping over into a harder life than he deserves. "Being a teenager is hard," I said. "I wouldn't want to go through that again. But it gets better. It's good to surround yourself with people that want to be with you. People that make you feel better about yourself." There was a long pause as he contemplated this.
"I don't know anyone else," he said.
This kid made a lasting impression on me. I dropped him off at the train station and watched as he slowly made his way inside. He was going to play a sport at his school. Afterwards, I picked him up from the train station. His step was lighter, his voice a bit enthusiastic, and hope gleamed in his eyes as we talked about the game and other stuff. He even said he was going to buy my book...whenever he got the money. I laughed with him. The next day, I learned that he began writing poetry.
There is no reason for a sixteen-year-old to be facing these types of issues--to fear the world, to have an ancient, hollow look in his eyes, to lose hope--but this is the reality for some of our kids. Getting up to go to school is a constant struggle to stay alive. And there is a breaking point when all feels lost, when they become shadows of lost dreams. And I believe we can make a difference in the life of a child. And I think we should.