When I was 15, I wanted a job at McDonald’s.
My dad said to me, “If you want a job so bad, I will pay you $6 an hour,” which was a lot of money 25 years ago. He wanted to pay me to stand and stare directly at the wall. He said, “I will pay you $6 an hour every hour you stand looking at the wall.”
I was so excited my dreams of buying a motorcycle came to the edges of my mouth, and I asked him “for real?”
Then, being young, I asked “Is there a limit to how many hours I can stand?”
“No” he said, “every day, all day.”
My younger brother was jealous and said, “What about me?” My dad said, “You too!” So we both faced the wall in the dining room and he only had two rules: we must pay attention to the wall and not lean on it.
My younger 12-year-old brother lasted less than a half hour and I lasted two and half hours; standing was okay, but focusing on the wall was near torture.
Having no goals […] not trying to exceed your own abilities in any way is simply choosing a way of life that leads to the wall, which then leads to drugs and alcohol to cope.
I can always spot someone who ended up choosing the wall. They have this dead look in their eyes, smeared with a wet glaze as if a hundred tears have built up inside them and yet not a single tear can fall. Be careful of the wall that my father taught us about, for it can lead to some very very bad places.