A Danger to Society

I have a felony.
Yes, You read that right. back in 2002, Life sucked pretty bad, and prescription drugs, took the edge off. During that time, i was a little careless, i almost got myself killed, twice.
It was the second time, that was the scariest. I took so many drugs, I couldn’t even tell you what the combination was. I can tell you that it wasn’t a good combination. My mind shut off, but my body, kept going. Thank God, someone was around to call 911. I ended up in the hospital.
It was about 6 months after that event, that I discovered, that the officers who found me that night, found the drugs I was taking, and charged me with possession of a controlled substance. They sent my court summons to the address where they found me, I never new. So I went to jail, and started the process of going through the court system.
I remember the day I read the entire J&S document, there was a phrase that still to this day sends shivers down my spine, written in all caps it said, “JOSHUA VANDERHOOF IS A DANGER TO SOCIETY.”
I remember riding in the car as I read this statement, I had never heard this before, nor did i think this phrase fit. But now, here was a legal document, one that would go on record, and would be searchable for the rest of history. This is what was attached to my name.
The anxiety started to build up. I started imagining my future court date, and the impact it would have on my life. Every scenario ended the same. My life, my dreams, my hopes, all of them were over. People would never allow me to do what I want, because, i was labeled a “danger to society.”
It was on that day in 2003, that i abandoned my dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. I got depressed. Thank God I was now on probation or I probably would have sank deeper into drugs, as all of the people around me were now turning to them as well. I knew that I could never get a job working the public schools, and definitely they wouldn’t let someone who is so dangerous near those we hold so precious.
So, why am I sharing this. Because, on my application to grad school, the application to the very program that will give me my job as a Kindergarten teacher I got asked again, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?’
The answer is and will always be, “Yes.”
But the question doesn’t scare me any more. You see for years since that day in 2003 I have been finding ways to do what I love. I have been a sudnay school teacher, a youth pastor, I created a recovery group for children in treatment foster care. I have started a half-way house for addicts that was recognized by the same court that sentenced me, as a preferred place to send people with addiction. I have received a clear background check from CYFD, allowing me to work with children here in New Mexico, needing to learn behavior modification techniques. I’ve been and ABA specialist, volunteer at multiple youth camps, travelled across the world to work with young monks and children in refugee camps, and the only time I lost a job because of that felony was when i worked for FEDEX, and the US Postal service had them lay me off because of it (even though I had the job for over a year, and my boss new of the conviction, he even tried for a year to get me back, working against the system).
Why do I say all of this? Because for years, I let that one moment, when i believed one sentence, rule my life. I gave up on my childhood dream of being a teacher, because someone who didn’t know me, or know what i was capable of, said something about me.
I have a felony, I can own that. And I have so much more.
While that felony may cause some problems along the way. It may even throw some obstacles for me to manuever myself around and through as i make my way toward my goal. But that felony will not be the wall that keeps me from pursuing my dream and my passion.
I have a Freaking Awesome life, and most of it has just been my “Plan B.”
As soon as this application clears, I’m going to step into my Plan A, life. The life of a teacher. The Life I always wanted, and thought I couldn’t have. I have a felony, but that doesn’t mean anything about me.

Why? Because…

When I was 3 or 4 years old, I lived in the house of a man who had muscular dystrophy. His name was Eric. 
I have lots of memories from this time in my life I remembered liking with my brother to buy cigarettes from the corner store, how him and his friends who were older treated me like I was the little kid and they had to hang out with me. And I also remember when one of them would put me on the back seat of the bike and take me for a ride. 
But One memory that sticks out more than the others is the time I got scolded. I think I broke Eric’s wheelchair. He had asked me to stop playing with a lever but it was so much fun. And I loved playing in it. Whatever happened, I was caught. Eric, said, “did you do this?” And in tears I said, “yes!” With what I can only imagine was the safest face a boy could make. 
Whatever I did had upset him and he asked, “why did you do it?” And with all the language a 4 year old had I let the words come out of my blubbering lips, tears rooming down my face, “because…”
While the rest of the memory may not be clear, what he said next was crystal clear, “Because is not an answer!”
Now fast forward a year or so, and that little kid Josh had moved across the country, my mother had remarried and I was going to have a new dad. 
I was a curious little kid and full of energy. I talked to animals, understood my little brothers babbling, and could spend hours playing and exploring the new world around me. 
One day I was about to do something, or maybe I already had, what I remember coming out of this new guy in my life was his words, “Don’t do that?” 
And with the curiously dona hold and a genuine interest in what he was saying I asked, “why?” 
And that’s when he said, “because.”
And something told me didn’t know that “because” is not an answer. And something else must have told me that it wasn’t my job to show him. 
I’ve thought about those two experiences many times in my life. And wondered how two adults could both have different answers. I didn’t trust them. They obviously weren’t smart, and they weren’t giving me the information I needed. And I set out to find it on my own. And I did. 
It was then that I fell in love with Truth. It’s then I learned to question more, to explore more, to figure things out, to not accept just one answer. 
Now it all didn’t happen at 5 years old. But the seed had been planted I my heart, to search for the answers of life, and never settle for, “just because.”
It’s probably why I never just accepted the normal life. I haven’t enjoyed just being with “the way it’s always been.” I get no enjoyment out of “you just have to accept it.”
It’s probably why I think your dumb if you tell me, “I think too much.” But I only started thinking, when adults stopped taking to me
And while that has given me an amazing life I’ve also felt a distance in life. Because a little kid looks to adults for the answers. You’ve been here longer, and I just showed up on the planet. Here was so much I’ve missed out on. And I need you to show me the way. 
I’m so glad that at that same time I started Kindergarten. I remember my teacher. She was so pretty. I had my own crayons, a cubby to keep my things in, and she helped me to create things through coloring and then tell stories about them. 
I remember around that time that one day I jumped off the bus and I brought to school my first story book. I was so excited to show her and I wanted her to read to me. I ran off the bus and she was waiting for me. Like she did every day. I ran up and like a five year old does I got excited and asked, “will you please read it to me?!?!?!” 
Her face changed, and she bent down to me and whispered, “I can’t. I have laryngitis and can’t talk to much.” 
I said, “ok.” Bowed my head and started to walk to class. It was then she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “come here.”
And we found a place and she read the first couple of pages to me in a whisper. And then she said, “you know my favorite thing to do is to read a book in a bubble bath.”
Well I don’t know if I could read but I sure as hell was going to try that when I got home. And I did. 
It’s then that I developed a new love, the love for a teacher. I have had many since then. Many who have taken the time to stop what they are doing, to listen, explain, discover, share, play, and even let me cry on their shoulder. 
And now I wonder if other children have the same experience when an adult doesn’t take the time to be with them. I wonder if all does work out in the end. I wonder what would have happened if that teacher hadn’t stopped me that morning. I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t find an adult to listen. 
Well, now it’s my job to be that adult, and there are so many children around who are asking, “why?” And I found how I will answer them.
“I don’t know. Let’s find out.”
How will you respond to the children in your life. It just might be your job to be the greatest teacher in their life. Will you take the time? And if you won’t please give them a better reason than, “because.”

Sitting with the Guru

“Shri Guru Charanam Shri Hari Sharanam” 

Last night in some sacred space

I took refuge in the guru and in the teachings of the dharma

There weren’t any incense,

No bells, nor monks in robes 

I didn’t travel to the majestic temples, Or some hill to find a beautiful soul sitting with his blanket. 

No the journey was much deeper and farther into the depths of being.

I found the guru, hidden in my heart 

It is he that had been calling, he that had been leading, he that had been teaching, he that had been learning. 

As I surrendered my mind, my will, my very being over to the guru, I found I was with him all along 

And that I was only taking refuge in my heart. 
I only surrendered to love. And love consumed me. 

Introductions

Welcome to 42something: Answers to the questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything, this is Joshua Rex. Hope you enjoy this space. As I was driving home from a personal development course I got the idea for a show. Didn’t have time to pull over, so I turned the microphone on, and hit record. My goal was to speak for 42 minutes, about issues surrounding spirituality, and in the first episode, how i got on the quest i was on. Here is a copy of that. Can’t wait to see hat comes of it.

Episode 1: My beginnings