About Lawrence of America

I am a writer, speaker and an entrepreneur fascinated by cultures, sustainability and business.

The Kitchen

Not everyone outside of the USA knows this, but in most parts of America, schools receive a large portion of their budget from the property taxes of the districts. That means that rich neighborhoods have rich kids and rich schools; a nice way of keeping the money inside, which, I have to come to understand is the primary concern of the wealthy.

 

I had a unique opportunity to attend one of these schools, not because I was rich, but because my mother was a teacher and education was an extreme priority for her. She got a job at the top high school in our part of Florida and, presumably, pulled some strings to get me redistricted. I did spend a few weeks of my freshman year at a very different sort of high school, and occasionally wonder what my life would be like now had I followed that evolutionary timeline.

 

I rode my bike to school in the mornings, alongside classmates who fought over parking spaces in their BMW’s and Mercedes Benz’s. My wardrobe at the time consisted of a few pairs of jeans and a handful of t-shirts. There were others like me in this regard, but there was also a large proportion of highly style conscious fashionistas. Being cool meant something different to each of us.

 

The classes, I loved. From the beginning it was easy to tell that the quality of instruction at this school was going to be very high and I took to it beautifully. I didn’t always have the highest grade in class, and I didn’t need to, I was happy just to learn. But socially, high school was a rough start for me. I think I did very much want to have friends, but I didn’t really know how to make any. To put it simply, I didn’t feel like I really had anything much to offer, so I kept to myself, hung out with my mom and schoolmates rarely heard my voice outside of class.

 

This started to change in my sophomore year when I joined the debate team. United by our common activity gave us a lot to talk about and things to do outside of school. I showed early promise as a debater and reveled in the positive attention it brought me. A clique started to form around this time that would come to be my high school group; and would go on to be friends for much longer after I went my own way.

 

Jared was a sophomore, like myself, who had transferred in from a private Christian school. There was something about his sense of humor, the way he carried himself and spoke that allowed me to identify him as a kindred spirit almost immediately. I think both of us felt like outsiders in this environment, middle to lower-middle class kids trying to play any role but poor, likeable and ultimately forgettable in this Hollywood story.

 

Jared taps me on my shoulder one day “hey bro, do you need a job?”

 

As a matter of fact, I did need a job. I’m not sure if working was something I really wanted to be doing during high school, but money was certainly an issue at home and getting some kind of job had definitely been on my mind.

 

“Come with me after school. The McDonald’s by my house is hiring.”

 

Jared broke it all down for me as we walked. He was always breaking things down, one of my favorite qualities of his, and valuable considering I was still very new to the country. He explained that McDonald’s was going to be the best place for us because we were going to make minimum wage no matter where we went, but at least at McDonald’s we could work lots of hours if we wanted and we could get raises if we worked for a while and got free food (that last one turned out to be wrong).

 

The McDonald’s Jared took me to shared a roof with a gas station just off one of the main roads in our town, right before the highway onramp. It was a pretty area, actually. The manager looked to be about 19 and seemed to have little zest for life. He handed me an application form which I filled out on the dining tables along with several other teens who were also applying that day. He took my form, asked me a few questions, handed me a T-shirt and told me when to show up for my first shift.

 

It seemed to me that there were a few different types of people that worked at McDonald’s, or at least at my McDonald’s. There were the young kids, 15-17 like Jared and myself who were just trying to make a few bucks in our free time. From what I could tell, nobody who drove a BMW to school also worked at McDonald’s part time, so I assume that we were all pretty poor. There was the older crowd, young managers 19-24 who had skipped college for one reason or another and were usually working on something on the side. Some of these folks were decent but they had the bearing of knowing they may have already missed their first boat and there wasn’t a guarantee that the next one was coming any time soon.

 

And then of course there were the older managers, who could be in their 30’s to their 50’s. They ranged greatly in their personalities, but all seemed quite settled in to their working class lives.

 

One of the other things I noticed right away about my McDonald’s was that there seemed to be a sharp distinction between who was tasked with working the register, and who was working the kitchen. The customer facing register, in so far as I could tell, was largely the domain of the white employees, while the blacks would work in the kitchen. But even in the kitchen there was segregation. The job of constructing sandwiches and meals was mostly tasked to the American blacks and the greasier, hotter and more dangerous job of operating the fryers and the grill usually went to immigrants from Haiti and Cuba.

 

If you are reading this, and you know me, and you are wondering where in the kitchen I ended up; I feel I may have done my job well as a writer. I won’t drag this on, I ended up on the grill and fryer. Was it a hint of how I was perceived in the social hierarchy of my new environment, or something more personal relating to me? Actually, I didn’t really think of it at the time and while I later came to conclude that there was a racial element to this story, I now feel it was the universe’s subtle way of accommodating me in my love to start from the bottom.

 

I loved the simplicity of my role, actually. Orders came in and I made them. There was very little need to interact with any of the other staff and there was something zen-like about the long sessions flipping, scooping and arranging items around my fiery hot grill station. Oil would splatter and create these little burn marks on my hands until they looked like I had the measles. Jared took quickly to his job, sometimes on the register, sometimes on the other side of the kitchen, building burgers, speaking loudly to everyone, reminding us to salt the fries and stack the burger ingredients correctly.

 

Truthfully, I think they put me on the fryer because they felt I wouldn’t mix well with the rest of the staff. There is a racial component to that, but it is a chicken and egg problem.

 

One Saturday night one of the popular kids came into the adjoining gas station as I was leaving work. He and a friend were loading cases of beer and fruity alcoholic drinks into a minivan that an older woman was driving, which I assume was his mom. There were some girls in the back dressed up looking like they were ready to have a good time. We shared a glance before he went.

 

I sat outside for a while and looked down at my oil splattered hands and wondered what the boy who had just come in would be doing tonight. Probably to his big house to drink with his friend and the girls. If his mom was willing to buy the beer for them, I could only assume there would be few restrictions on what would be happening that night.

 

Was there a part of me that was jealous? Yes, there was. I wanted to be a white American boy with permissive parents. I wanted to be living in the same neighborhood I had always grown up in, maybe even the same house, with the same friends. I wanted my own car and cool clothes and girls that wanted to hang out with me because I had all of those things.

 

If I made $200 in a paycheck, I would usually keep $50 for myself and give the rest to my mother to help pay for bills. I thought about that as I looked at my hands and wondered if the boy I had just ran into ever had the opportunity to serve people he loved in that way; and I felt some satisfying twinge of moral superiority for a minute. But then I decided that I really didn’t know anything about him, he could be an amazing son for all I know. He was simply going to have to live his life and I was going to have to live mine.

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Remembering Why

Early Saturday morning I woke up to a flurry of text messages from a young banker I had met at an MBA information session 2 years ago. We had talked briefly about his interest in completing an MBA, and the services offered by my firm, MBA Link. He decided not to engage our services at the time.

But on Saturday morning he explained that he had sent in a hastily written 3rd round application to a top 10 school and had received an interview invitation for this upcoming Thursday. He felt strongly that he needed help to prepare for the interview, as well as a supplemental essay he had to submit, and was insisting that I meet with him for 3 hours on Sunday to help him prepare.

This was an unusual request for a number of reasons. First of all, interview invitations for internationals applying in the third round are almost unheard of. Second, we typically work with our clients for many months to help them prepare for this moment, so the time pressure was very real. Last, it had long since passed that I managed client work myself, delegating that duty to a team of consultants that are, under most circumstances, significantly more qualified than myself. With such short notice however, there was no chance to assign this task to anyone but myself.

So it was with some hesitation that I agreed to clear my calendar on Sunday to serve this last minute client personally. My reason for saying yes was simple. We position ourselves as the resource for ambitious young talent applying to ultra-competitive schools. That means providing that service when it’s convenient, but also when it’s inconvenient. We view it as a sacred duty and we stand on our heads for our clients. So there was no saying no.

The young man that I met with that day was earnest and prepared. He shared with me each of the elements of his application that he had already submitted, and his ideas on how to manage the interview and final essay. Any feelings of reluctance to give up my weekend (I typically work 12 hour days during the week) soon evaporated when I could see how keen this young man was to receive my help, and it wasn’t long before he had lit my fire completely.

Even with our severely abridged timeline, it was essential I develop the deepest understanding of his history and goals. We spent almost 90 minutes going through every aspect of his life and career up to this point. He grew up in a simple town in India, with unremarkable parents and little going for him but a good brain and a willingness to work harder than people expected him to at every turn.

A chance encounter with a visiting professor led him to leave his local university to study finance at a prestige university in Europe. But even after graduating, he started his career in finance at the bottom, working grueling hours for little more pay than I had received as a public school teacher (my first job out of college). But he did everything he was supposed to do. He took on responsibility he didn’t have to, in excess of his own tasks, developed relationships with mentors and navigated his career path with courage and deftness. He had managed to double his salary almost every year of his career.

He had been living in Singapore for a few years at this point and was now in a highly coveted role on a trading desk, making several hundred thousand dollars a year. This was the point I asked the all important question; why did he want to get an MBA? His answer blew me away. Not because of it’s uniqueness per se, but actually because it was the right answer.

He explained that after all these years and all this success, he had never gotten satisfied and never closed his eyes. And what he saw at this stage of his career were a lot of people in positions like his getting eliminated during a restructuring, only to be replaced by younger, hungrier, cheaper talent – and finding themselves not only unemployed, but practically unemployable. In the humblest language and tone, he shared that he had noticed that the highest levels of management in his bank were all taken by people who had MBAs, and had a broader sense of what to offer than their own specific skillset. In a word, he wanted to learn how to be a business leader.

To fully understand my reaction to this, you need to realize that at this phase of my career with my own business, my interaction with the young professionals we serve is largely limited to sales. I hear people out, try to determine if we can help them, and explain what we can do for them if they’re interested in getting our help. The deep exploration of a client’s particulars isn’t something I’ve had access to personally for some time.

As a salesperson, I face a lot of rejection. There are lots of reasons people choose not to engage us:

  • cost: young professionals who intend on spending hundreds of thousands on an MBA, inexplicably, cannot afford a few thousand on getting professional help
  • ego: applicants feel the accomplishment of getting admitted to a top school would be diminished if they get some help. They want to see what will happen applying themselves, without thought to how deeply this decision might affect their future career path
  • credibility: they know my background, but some part of them suspects I must be some kind of hack if this is the best I can do with my career. Why wasn’t I in banking, consulting or tech, making the big bucks as they soon will be?

I’ve faced some combination of the last three objections hundreds, maybe thousands, of times in the last few years. I wouldn’t say it bothers me all that much, business is growing at a good clip and I’m more than grateful for the clients I do have. But there is something special about talking to someone who came from nothing to achieve incredible levels of success who so completely understands what it is we do, and more importantly, why.

In this moment, I received an all important reminder. This is more than a business. The people we help are real. They come to us with their dreams in their hands and ask us to show them how to put the pieces together. There’s no amount of sales growth or efficiency improvements that can replace that. What we do helps people. What we do changes peoples lives.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Earliest Memory

The earliest memory I have is waking up with my back against the door of on an campus apartment in Stonybrook, New York. I had cried myself to sleep, refusing to move away from the door that my father had just closed after he dropped me off. My mother was crouching over me as I awoke, her eyes full of tender love and pain. She picked me up and held me, but that’s all I remember from that day.

I was 3 years old at the time and upon graduating from Stonybrook University, where my mother was completing a Master’s Degree in Anthropology, we moved to Brooklyn, NY where my mother became a teacher and my step-father was a real estate appraiser. My father was also a teacher, lived in Queens, and came to pick me up three Fridays a month to spend wacky guy’s weekends full of late night TV, ice cream and everything else I couldn’t do at my mother’s house.

By the time I started school I was well accustomed to this schedule and any hopes I had ever held of my biological parents reuniting had faded. Truthfully, I can barely remember my mother and father ever being in the same room. They would occasionally speak on the phone, I was always the subject and the tone of the conversation was rarely warm.

For the earliest years of my life I remember my step-father as a mostly innocuous presence. He was, as far as I could tell, chiefly the concern of my mother, and little more than a roommate and a friend of a friend to me. His indifference never struck me as resentment so much as a recognition that I would always be the highest priority in mom’s life, and for the sake of his marriage I was best left alone.

My first sister made her arrival in the year of my fifth birthday, and I suppose that was when my mother’s house began to feel like a place that a family lived. I had desperately wanted a brother, but to my great dismay my younger sibling was a girl and very much a girl at that. She had little interest in sports or video games, preferring dolls and clothes and other things which struck me as very useless and silly.

I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t reading, solving math problems or in some way using my mind. My mother and father were both deep lovers of knowledge and shared this love with me early and often. Books before bed, numbers at the breakfast table, thinking games in the car and on walks. Each seemed impressed by the speed of my progress and in some way I suppose my own development was like a conversation between the two of them, lost lovers who could no longer say kind things to each other directly. But they could compliment me on my spelling and arithmetic, my knowledge of facts in history and biology; and they did, often. Each compliment followed by a new lesson, in some attempt to outdo each other, perhaps.

Mom and dad each had their own weapons in this war to be the superior parent. My mother was barely more than a teenager when she had me and my step-father was younger than her. My father was much older and more financially established. Weekend adventures with my dad included dinners at restaurants, concerts and ball games. My dad’s fridge was always full of every imaginable treat and my room in his apartment had more material possessions than I knew I needed, until I had them. My mother’s home was much more Spartan in comparison, and the nature of our schedule meant that the unpleasant duties of waking me up early in the morning and getting me to bed at a reasonable time were always her responsibility. Where my father’s home was a place of adventure and abundance, my mother’s was one of duty, responsibility and oftentimes of extreme frugality.

Even at this age, I think I understood that the custody of my person was a source of conflict between my mom and dad. My father felt he could provide for me better and wanted me to live with him. My mother had the benefit of a legal system that favored custodian rights of mother’s in conflicts like this, and while the legal battle had been won, she was riddled with anxiety that she may be losing the battle for my heart. From this desperate position, her primary tactic came in the form of slander against my father, an approach that would be taken to violent extremes in the coming years.

Truth be told, I think I would have preferred to live with my father, had my mother been indifferent to the idea. But from the love and pain in my mother’s eyes that formed my very first memory, I knew my mother didn’t just love me, she needed me. So when my father would occasionally explain to me that if living with him was something that I wanted, he could fight for me, I would say no. He never pressured me.

Malina’s Return

It was an exciting day for the people of Kalaallit Nunat.

After months of living in perpetual darkness and freezing temperatures, the Caribou would soon be returning, the ground would soon be visible again, and most importantly, the sun would bless the tortured and weary Kalaallit with her radiance.

The Kalaallit life was defined by fear and unpredictability. A village that flourished for years could be eliminated in a month. The seals offered no warning or explanation for their disappearance, and did not apologize for the starvation their absense would cause. Appeals to the spirits of game were often ignored, but were always offered regardless. It would be bad enough to starve, without having to wonder if it was your fault.

With so little certainty in the Kalaallit world, it was often said that the people did not believe, they only feared.

But after countless generations of living on the frigid tundra of Kalaallit Nunat, the Kalaallit people had come to have great faith in two of their gods. Every year, the appearance of Malina, the sun goddess, and the departure of Anningan, her brother the moon god, has come to be predicted with greater and greater accuracy.

There was a time when all the men of the village would travel to the East coast to sit by the shoreline with outstretched hands, begging Malina to return. With the most unscientific estimations of her arrival, they would often be waiting for days, even weeks before her light would peek out over the horizon.

But those days were long past. The shamans and historians of the village had become adept at keeping accurate calendars without the benefit of daily sunrises and sunsets, and the precision of their prediction of Malina’s return was measured in hours, not days.

But with this greater certainty, came a lack of apprehension, and as could almost be expected, a lack of concern for this once mysterious and ethereal event. Although greatly appreciated by all, Malina’s return was thought of as guaranteed, and few cared to spend the energy to implore her to do what she was bound to do anyway.

So on this day, there were not 1000 Kalaallit hunters, not 100 or 10, but only 3 men who had chosen to take the journey towards the East and show their respects towards Anningan’s sister. They were the sons of the village shaman, Irniq, Nauja and Amaruq.

During the long trip, they discussed amongst themselves the changing ways of the Kalallit people. As devout spiritualists, they were ashamed of their brethren who no longer joined them in this journey. There was no conversation regarding the relevance of this ritual, it felt right to them and that was enough.

They arrived at the coast with a few hours to spare and decided to erect an idol of bones and furs to please the goddess Malina. They kneeled by their idol and waited with outstretched hands for Malina’s return. For the season when Caribou would be plentiful and children could be born more safely and their igloos would be traded for more comfortable tents.

They waited, silenty and as frozen as their icy surroundings for what eventually seemed like suspiciously too long. But they continued to wait and wait for hours without daring to disrespect Malina by moving even a single muscle or displaying the slightest hint of doubt on their faces.

Almost a full day passed before Irniq spoke what was on all of their minds.

“Something is wrong. Father has not been off by more than a single meal in the last 20 seasons. Malina has been the most kind and gracious of all spirits, but she can no longer tolerate the disrespect shown to her by our people.”

There was a long silence before Nauja spoke his mind.

“Who is to say what Malina’s temperament may be. She has never, in all the history of Kalaallit Nunat, failed to return. There is no man here who fully comprehends the methods our father uses to predict her return. He could’ve sent us early as a test of our faith. He is getting old and he could’ve made a mistake. Malina is not a vengeful goddess.”

Amaruq thought for a while, and shared his thoughts with his brothers.

“Be it a test from our father or Malina herself, let us rise to the challenge. Let us not further shame our people by allowing Malina to arrive with our backs turned. We still have a few days provisions, we can wait until she or father is satisfied by our faith.”

And they waited. They waited in the cold, dreary, uninhabited wasteland, wondering what those back at thier village might be thinking. Did they now wish they too had come to show proper respects to Malina? Would this be sufficient warning for seasons to come?

What could be happening?

It was unlike their father to intentionally beguile his sons as was suggested. He was so proud of his sons for taking this journey, why would he make it more difficult than necessary? As one of the most respected and sharp witted shamans, it was equally unlikely for him to have made a mistake. In all their lives, nothing like this had ever happened. It had been generations since Malina’s return was predicted so inaccurately.

Was it possible…

Could it be….

that Malina was truly forsaking the people of Kalaallit Nunat?

For how long?

How deep was her resentment?

How justified?

The brothers pondered these questions in silence for three days. When the last of their rations was finished, Irniq spoke again.

“There can no longer be any doubt as to Malina’s disposition. We have offended the greatest of all spirits by treating her as the least, and now we will be reminded of her importance. I accept and invite any cruelty Malina wishes to offer. Never will it be said that Irniq was a man of weak will or little faith. I will remain here until Malina returns or I will expire a more satisfied man than he who is condemned to live in eternal darkness.”

Nauja spoke next.

“From the day I was old enough to take this journey to show my respects to Malina, I have taken it. I continue to take it when all others have forsaken her and let there be no question in either of your minds that I would’ve taken this journey for as long as my health allowed. If Malina wishes to punish me along with those that have forsaken her, then it seems that my efforts have been in vain. If I cannot have the light of Malina, I will learn to love Anningan’s darkness all the more. I will forget the taste of Caribou and the warmth of summer and I shall be just as content.”

Amaruq looked across the ocean pensively for a long time, then shared his thoughts.

“Malina is not a wicked goddess, but we have given her reason to question our faith. Let us do our best brothers, Malina will be reasonable.”

The three brothers sat there for another day, hungry, tired and depressed before Irniq stood up and ran towards the idol they had built.

“I curse you Malina! I have loved you above all other spirits when others barely remember your name, and you care to punish them more than to reward me! You are the goddess of whores!”

And with that he toppled over the idol and left it in broken pieces. Nauja stood up as well.

“You are too emotional Irniq. It is obvious Malina cares nothing for you, so why do you offer her the pleasure of seeing you in pain? My brothers, I am returning to the village. You may join me and embrace this new life or you can choose to sit here until you die in the name of a goddess who will not save you.”

Nauja dusted snow off his parka and did just as he said he would. Irniq cried into the snow while Amaruq sat still. Finally, Irniq spoke again.

“It is men like Nauja that have caused this to happen. Does he not realize that Malina can see through his lack of dedication? I have said and done horrible things, but only out of my passion and love for Malina. Surely she will recognize this. I am resolved to die in this spot and I throw myself entirely to her mercy.”

Amaruq responded,

“It cannot be said whether Malina has a greater respect for men of pride, passion or reason. I cannot live past another day without eating, and there may not even be enough game on the way home to guarantee my survival if I wait that long. I will not abandon Malina, but after a day, she will have to understand that I must offer myself a chance to live. I do not want my children to grow up in a world without light, but a world without a father would be just as dark.”

And the two men sat there and waited for Malina’s return while their brother was getting closer and closer to home. Nauja wondered how he would be greeted by his fellow villagers when he arrived. He wondered about his brothers and what they would do.

Amaruq wondered if he could convince Irniq to come with him should Malina allow the time he set to elapse. He wondered if he should convince him, or let him choose his own death.

Irniq was the most free of them all, for he wondered nothing. He merely sat, and waited to be either Malina’s blessed child and the hero of his village, or perhaps just a lucky snack for a wandering wolf.

Momentary Knowledge

Tonight I find myself in that superior place of all knowing.

There are no distractions in my way. Drunkery and foolishness are pale companions to the truth I see before me plain as day.

I look  behind me and see a life of desperation and grasping, ever grasping towards a false god of many promises and and succulent pleasures always beyond knowing.

I see it in the people I’ve come to admire, and sacrificed much to be alike, the grasping, the desperation. The skepticism, the unending desperation and sadness of failure at never reaching something we’ve never wanted.

The acceptance, the perfection, the acknowledgement we’ve always had but always ignored. The wisdom we’ve always ignored but always knew was there, like a despondent friend, always supportive, always patient, but always smiling pitifully at our choices, continually hoping for that last final chance to be what we believed would make us truly and totally whole.

So we forever grasp and try and give and adjust and give it one more go and tell ourselves we are closer than ever. We gulp hard and accept that we are less than what we are made of in hopes of one day achieving the illusion of a happiness that has never existed for anyone, self hypnotized into a system that extracts the very drops of happiness that spring forth naturally in us until we are once again empty and conscious of our failure.

And so it goes, again and again, only the free people enjoying what we wish we had, the rest of us submitting our lives to the miserable who know only what agonies befall us should we continue to follow along the same path.

What is passion?

Passion has become an ever present buzzword these days. We’re told to follow our passion and success will come. We’re told that passion is the essential ingredient needed to achieve any goal, but what is passion exactly and how do we tap into it when we sometimes feel that it may elude us?

I believe that passion comes down to sincerity. Authenticity. Passion is what we had before we were told that our ideas were unrealistic and maybe more importantly, that our desires were unhealthy.

For almost any goal I can recall setting for myself in my life, I can just as quickly recall someone questioning why I needed that thing – the bigger income, the academic or fitness goal I set for myself, the lifestyle I desired. Why did I need that to be happy? So often our own loved ones and the people we respect can paralyze us with their “tough love” and “constructive criticism”. Usually this doesn’t come from any malicious intent on their part, but rather our own desperate need for their approval that is so deeply ingrained and subversive to our own achievement that we can hardly get out of bed in the morning without someone telling us it’s ok.

Why are we so quick to subdue our own identity in the face of such token resistance? Our desire for social acceptance is so high that we can hardly think to make a single move without first gaining the support, or at least permission, of anyone who might possibly judge us. Passion, therefore, is overcoming that need and being true to our own authentic selves in a way that is largely uncompromising.

And THAT is indeed an essential element in getting what you want out of life.

The Parking Boy

When I was 11 or 12, I walked with my friends along the dusty road between my house in Nairobi and the Sarit Center mall where video games could be played. The other inhabitants of the path were the typical Nairobi mix, people of various fortunes. There were the wealthy Indians, smartly dressed men and women in luxurious, colorful fabrics. More simply dressed, working Africans, the more rural stock wearing traditional waist and head wraps. And then there were the street children; running or loafing, furtively or defiantly; packs of feral eyed and bony young citizens almost more dog than human. One such child walked along Rhapta Road with an outstretched hand and a wild desperate look as pedestrians avoided him with skilled deftness. A few paces in front of me he collapsed and fell on the ground, breathing heavily. He was so skinny he was almost a skeleton. That was the first time I had seen someone in such dire straits and the question popped into my head that maybe I should help him, but no one else acknowledged the dying boy and I did like the others. I looked deeply into his face, gasping and struggling for life as I walked by. I didn’t see him die, but I always imagine that he stopped breathing shortly after my back was to him. I think it’s a very realistic possibility.

I spent twenty shillings on two games of Virtua Fighter that day, a bag of fried potatoes costs 5. I’ve been haunted by that day for a long time. Why didn’t I stop to buy him some food?

Was it my selfishness in wanting to play the new game? My embarrassment of being the only one to stop? A feeling of helplessness knowing he would probably be starving again tomorrow? Knowing how many starving kids there were?

None of these explanations make sense to me now. I don’t know why I didn’t help that boy that day but I have been him a thousand times since and I will continue to be him until I forgive myself.