Naturally, the question of why I made it off the street, or what motivates me has come up, both in my mind and the minds of those who know me. I just want to cut a tiny way into this topic by talking about what I call "Deep Living Activities." These are activities which transcend your daily existence, and can potentially and spontaneously propel you into a new awareness. There are a few criteria to be met in the search for a "Deep Living Activity"
1) There has to be no agenda, or thought that this activity will help your life
2) The activity has to engage on many levels, Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, etc
3) The activity has to a be a rarity, or somewhat rare, in your life
4) It is fun, enjoyable, and attractive
5) It helps if it is simple, and easy to understand, but impossible to master.
For example, canoeing met the criteria in my own life. As a street kid of say, 18 or so, I was talking to this guy who wanted to help me. I remember lamenting my situation, and talking about the overwhelming qualities of poverty. He helped me focus by asking me what I would like to do, if I could do anything (something small). Now, he was a fairly well-off fellow, who had mentioned the canoe he had in his backyard at some point. I said "canoeing would be fun." He asked me to do one thing, and to forget about my situation. He said I could borrow his canoe, I just had to get to his backyard by myself, and take the canoe for a spin (he had lakefront property). The next day I spent the first part of the morning and early afternoon hitch hiking to his place. I Learned a lot in the process. I learned that a rich experience like canoeing on a beautiful lake can be very motivating.
We see these kinds of activities put to use with youth all the time, mostly with young offenders, because we believe it fosters "teamwork" and other corporate buzzwords like "Leadership," and "social networking." Whatever. As long as we see the underlying qualities that allow for success in a project, we are ahead.
I could not have changed my life, or become a rich individual without some fun stuff happening, I know that. While there are quite a few other things that have helped me, this one sticks out right now.
I realize that it's tough to budget in "fun," or "activity," but I truly believe it separates a successful program from an unsuccessful one. When I say "success" by the way, I mean people choosing consciously, deliberately living the way they actually want to.