All my life, I've been able to just coast along, barely doing any work, just letting the intellectual part of me deal with school. In thinking back, though, I suppose I never really went to school.
Well, I guess they had to *call* it a school, but for nearly all of my high school years, I was in a place that emphasized learning how to keep your emotions in check, instead of actually trying to educate you for a future that promised more than flipping burgers. But, then again, most of the people who went to my high school weren’t really expected to get to college, because of their severe emotional and social crippling. To be completely honest, I deserved to be there. I was a nasty kid who got violent when he didn't get his way. Hell, in looking back, I don't think that I was destined for anything more than a minimum-wage job doing something that didn’t involve interacting with the general public.
But, halfway through my uneventful pseudo-education, I was told that I would not have the credits necessary to graduate if I didn't take some sort of class that was offered outside of Heather Ridge. At this time, I was also told by my Mom that I would be allowed to get my driver's license if I passed whatever class I took, seeing' as how it would be a less-structured environment than I was used to.
I was given a choice of a bunch of classes, and the ones I wanted (Welding and Culinary Arts) filled up before I had a chance to apply for them. This left me with two classes to choose from, namely, Principles of Electronics, or, Masonry. I chose Masonry. Shocked the hell out of everyone else, since they were certain I would continue down my chosen nerd path and pick electronics. But no, I chose to take my flabby, un-athletic body, and submit it to hard, manual labor, the sort of thing Heinlein calls "honest work."
In retrospect, I have no idea why I actually chose to learn one of the most grueling construction trades, but I am thankful I did. Being in that class taught me many, many things I would not have known, but it also presented many situations that I just wasn't ready to deal with. I was the only guy in the class who wore glasses, the only guy who played DDR, and the only guy who had never really done anything more strenuous than a literal walk in the park. Well, besides DDR, I mean.
That left me at a disadvantage, since Masonry is, in fact, a very physically demanding occupation. Everything was all well and good in class for a while, since the beginning of the year involved taking tests on computers, which was my forte. But then, we got to the actual work. Anyone who looks at a jobsite where there are Hispanic people working, and calls them 'Lazy Mexicans' deserves a swift kick in the crotch. By the end of the first week of class, I was completely exhausted, and my muscles were trying to kill me for making them work. This went on for a while, until my exhaustion, plus the other students calling me gay, plus the fact that I had been off my meds for a few days, led to one of my worst temper tantrums ever.
I tried to kill a classmate.
I tried to kill him because of something completely trivial.
I thank whatever higher power there is that the brick missed.
That was the turning point in my life. I was sixteen, and I had attempted murder. I could have been put in jail, but I wasn't. I could've been kicked out of school, but I wasn't. I could've had a crapload of bad things happen to me, but they didn’t. I don't know why he didn't press charges, or why the teachers allowed me back in class. I don't know why I thought I was justified in my actions. All I know is, my life would certainly be different had that not happened.
You see, being allowed back into the classroom after that changed me. It made me realize that not everybody is a self-centered, vindictive asshole. It made me know, deep down inside, that some people actually believed in me, and thought that I could get better with a little more practise. It hurts, in a bizarre way, to know that you are still accepted and forgiven, even after you attempt something so evil. And it still tears me apart, thinking about what I did. But at the same time, I’m glad it happened. It humbled me, having other people decide that I should have a second chance. It humbled me because I knew that without their benevolence, I was to have no future.
I'm still humble. At times, I may complain about other people being stupid, but I am reasonably certain they weren't stupid enough to attempt a homicide. And that makes me beneath them. I don't deserve the life I have, and yet I still live. I don’t deserve the beautiful woman who loves me dearly, but there she is. I don’t deserve a lot of the things I have, but through some miracle, I still have them. I weep with pure joy that others have judged me worthy of existence, and I try to make certain I don't disappoint them.
I don't know what I'm going to do with my life, but I know that I can't waste it. Not when I have yet to repay the kindness given to me. And I don't think I ever will be able to pay off a debt as large as that, but the least I can do is keep up with the interest rate.
Wow. I really needed to get that off my chest. The funny thing is, it started out as a comment to imabeeinabox, about education and hard labor, and it turned into me writing for six hours.