Personal experiences are a wealth of knowledge, a fountain of wisdom that can never run dry for one who learns from the lessons they present. One lesson I have learned along the way is that life always changes. People never always stay the same way and behave in the same manner they used to five or ten years ago. People change, and I have changed too over the years. Reflecting over the past few years has brought to light the immense influence simple things and actions have on our lives. My turning points in life have come from such; simple actions and moments that seemed plain but held deep when searched beneath the surface.
Am thankful for having such a loving family, with parents who greatly adore us - the children- and always ensured we did not lack anything. It was apparent to us that our parents loved us from an early age. They however never tolerated any childish nonsense and would both make sure any mistake we made never went away without appropriate discipline. Such mistakes, they let us know, were significant and had great impact on our future behavior. As a child, I was rowdy and really loved to be involved in a number of scuffles with my siblings and friends at school.
One such scuffle graduated into a fight with a neighbor’s boy when I was nine years old, and I have never forgotten the incident; not for the punishment, but the moral lesson I learnt from my parents. I was informed of how such behavior in an adult could lead to life in prison, especially if the victim had suffered some injury. As they chastised my rogue behavior, with admonition and patience, I realized I had turn over a new leaf. I believe this moment turned my life, as from that point onwards; I made a conscious decision to heed the advice given me by my loving mother and father, to always seek amicable ways of solving issues. In spite of the punishment I got, which was dully deserved, I learnt a lesson that changed my life. This incident significantly changed my life. However, I consider my life’s turning point to come from a visit we had as family to a shelter home.
Children learn a lot from their parents, and I must admit I learnt a lot, and still do from my parents. Being in a family is wonderful experience, many take for granted. In many instances we tend to value less, the most vital things in our lives as we appreciate them less with time. I was appalled when after a visit to hospital; our parents took us to a nearby shelter for the homeless. The conditions these people lived in were deplorable. It was worse when we saw people living in the streets, and their families that had no home to go to. These people not only lacked food and shelter, but also lacked love. Seeing drug addicts, depraved of a sound mind and sober judgment, due to never-ending stupor induced by drugs, made my stomach churn with disgust. This incidence certainly was never regarded as a good one by the children, who were looking forward to spending the afternoon in the park playing with other children. Nevertheless, I learnt how privileged we were to have a home and such loving parents. This transformed the way I valued our family: indeed, the best things in life are free.
Not all of these people had chosen the kind of life they lived, but circumstances had forced them to live that way. The desire to have a better life was evident in the way they expressed themselves. I could tell by the look they gave us that they considered us highly honored and advantaged to live the way we did as a family. The pervading distress and almost palpable misery reminded me of a movie I had watched earlier called “beyond borders”, about groups of people suffering around the world. From civil war and hunger in Africa, where vulnerable women and children died in large numbers daily, to fighting in Cambodia, the movie detailed human suffering in such a touching way that viewing the underprivileged almost moved me to tears. I later told the parents of my decision to help the poor in our society in future, and if possible dedicate much of my personal resources to make a difference in their life. It was such a pivotal turning point in my life that has seen me offer voluntary service to shelter homes and social organizations, focusing on the destitute with efforts aimed at improving their quality of life.
Asked by friends, why I never got involved in drugs during my teenage years, I always refer to this moment when I saw with my own eyes the terrible effect drugs had on a person’s life. Use of illegal drugs, however regarded as a sure way to torment and anguish, is made appealing to youths and teenagers by their peers, who know little of their effect and seem not to care; all in the name of looking cool to other teens. Any desire I had and would have had for all drugs and alcohol vanished as I saw the affliction drug addicts suffered. It changed not only my perception of drugs, but also the course of my life; I became a teetotaler. My life was changed as a result of the visit to the shelter, and I am thankful to my parents for the priceless opportunity.