Years ago, I was sitting on the porch with my grandfather listening to him talk to me about life. Being a pastor, he would tell me about his sermons and experiences with the power of prayer and belief. I remember him being adamant in this particular conversation about two principles specifically: sometimes you have to sink to learn how to swim, and things will get better if you believe there's a way to change them.
As the conversation continued, an obvious drug addict walked in the yard and begin to approach the porch. He was carrying a dented can of beans and his clothing was dirty and tattered. Alarmed, I immediately thought that the man was up to mischievousness, and that my grandfather and I were in danger.
My grandfather greeted the man with a warm hello, as if he wasn't phased by the men's obvious distasteful state. He smiled at him and even had a brief conversation about the weather. The man then asked my grandfather if he'd like to buy the can of dented beans for two dollars. Without hesitation, my grandfather took a dollar from his pocket and said to the man, "I only have one dollar, but I I'll give it to you and let you keep the beans so you can eat." I was in disbelief. Here was a drug attack at his lowest state, standing before my grandfather; the pastor; on his property; with the audacity to ask for money. I couldn't believe there was an offer for this man to walk away with anything but a empty hand and a stern warning. The man took the offer, and thanked my grandfather.
We were silent for a few moments watching the addict walk down the street; happy with his can of beans and dollar in hand. I broke the silence by asking my grandfather why he'd given a drug addict money to use towards more drugs. He said to me, "It is not my place to judge what that man will choose to do with that dollar. All I can do is hope he will look back on this an hour from now and eat those beans, not rob or steal from someone, and live to see a chance at another day." He taught me something in that moment. He didn't give the man the dollar to contribute to his turmoiled lifestyle, he gave it to him in hopes that it could impact his life. It was the smallest act of kindness with the biggest symbolic gesture.
This is the moment that gave me genuine belief in the power of opportunity. No matter what walk of life people come from, they deserve an opportunity to change their life for the better. Just like the drug addict, they have to decide whether they want to "sink or swim" and believe that they have a choice in making their life better.
My grandfather passed away two years ago. He taught me many things, but that moment is one I will never forget. We are entitled to live any quality of life we choose, and even if you start from the bottom you have an opportunity to get to the top. If you or someone you know are lost, seeking purpose and reason, digging to find a way to bring yourself out of something- don't wait until tomorrow to begin your transformation. Every tomorrow, leads you a day closer to no tomorrow's; every today, leads you closer to now. Swim hard.
To my grandpa: thank you for teaching me about grasping the windows of opportunity and to never become trapped.