By Ryan Rhodes
It is my belief that people are born inherently good at their core. Inner light exists in everyone. It is life experience and trauma that can cause our light to dim. I was told by a therapist, “Everyone is like a diamond, Ryan. Trauma is like adding layers of muck that cover up that diamond.”
When I was younger I created this version of myself in which I was constantly drawn to the dark. I glorified wicked behavior, and built a life around taking from my fellows. In the midst of this evolution, I always felt like something wasn’t right. As if something inside of me didn’t completely believe I was truly as dark as I wanted to be perceived. It is my belief that this feeling came from the existence of my inner light.
My entire adolescence was filled with this theme of duality. Helping grandma with the door, carrying groceries for the neighbor, saying “please” and “thank you” when appropriate, but behind closed doors, I glorified a lifestyle that wasn’t entirely true to myself. Set firmly in the obsession over money, power and respect, I looked to crime figures as role models. Grasping for father figures in urban culture, I molded my behavior around the movies I watched and the music I listened to. As the years went by my unsavory activity evolved, and I began to get myself into darker and more extreme situations.
I remember like it was yesterday, the visceral response that finally woke me out of the life I was creating. A voice inside of me, clear as day saying, “What are you doing here? This is not who you are.”
It was that voice that made me realize I was not like the gangsters portrayed in the movies. I was not like the characters of my childhood I so greatly admired. Taking from others without remorse or conscience. In that instant I knew I was not capable of such behaviors. I was raised better than that. I knew better than that. Scariest of all and most importantly, I knew that I would have to make a change. The light inside me, although dim and covered with muck, was still there. Still shining.