Motivational Speaker and Bestselling Author, Luke S. Kennedy, gives us a little teaser of his upcoming book, Silent Ego - A Quest for Silence. This upcoming book is the second instalment to his #1 Bestseller, Stabbed Ego - A Thug's Journey to Enlightenment.
I don’t want to do this. What if they’ve got weapons too? I might go to jail. I might get—
“Punchy, how much do you think they’ll have?” Stintz, my old friend asked me, seated next to me in the driver’s seat of a stolen car, his words interrupting my inner thoughts. Punchy, my nickname, I had picked up through graffiti and winning organized street fights. I loved it.
“I’m not sure bro, don’t know about cash, but they’ll have heaps of pills.” My mouth spat out, trying to drown the other conversation in my head, my doubt and my fears. My thoughts were always there, always loud.
Those loud thoughts were the reason I was sitting in that car about to run through a drug dealer’s house to rob him and his friends.
A couple of hours earlier, I was sitting on a warm couch with a bunch of my boys. The morning sun peeping through gaps in the curtains. It was the end of the second night without any sleep, but with copious amounts of ecstasy, cocaine, and alcohol.
Time on drugs gave me what I was after; A slight reprieve from my overactive mind. It gave me some stillness. Some silent time. It helped me care less about what other people thought of me – at least, for a short time.
As the effects started to wear off, and the misery of my harsh reality began to hit, my loud berserk thoughts were back in full force. And they were worse than before I got on the drugs.
Shouldn’t have said that last night.
You reckon they’ll care?
Fuck, I’m going to be sick tomorrow...
Should I have something to eat?
When did I eat last?
Ummm... wonder if I’ve lost weight.
I’m gunna go home? Fuck going home. Everyone else is still going.
How’s my face look? I bet it’s oily. I haven’t showered in a bit. Do the boys think I’m a grub? Have they showered? Wouldn’t mind brushing my teeth.
How can we get more drugs? Fuck, I need more drugs.
Any vodka left? I think I finished it all off...
Facing reality as the drugs wore off, these thoughts were crawling their way back in. I didn’t want the thoughts back. How can I hold these thoughts back a little longer?
“Anyone got pills? Have we finished the vodka?” I slurred, glancing around the room filled with pale, miserable faces. Purple bags sitting under every single defeated eye. There was no response besides a couple of weak and beaten shakes of the head. The room had 3 lounges in a semi-circle, a large screen TV playing music videos, and a coffee table with empty beer bottles on top, a bong, empty satchels, and a bloody tissue after two of the boys had a drunken wrestle a few hours earlier and butted heads. The jovial atmosphere of the night before disappeared with the darkness of night. What was left was misery, the sun’s rays now illuminating our horrible existence. One of the boys was slouched down into the couch, his head below his shoulders giving the impression he had no neck.
“Fuck... wouldn’t mind a pill.” was all he could mumble.
One of the other boys who had been in the wrestle the night before, chuckled and coughed, a bit of blood stained tissue still stuck on his head.
“Anyone got pills?” I repeated a little louder.
“Think we’re done, brother.” Stintz said, disclosing the information we were all trying to hide from. I met Stintz four years earlier, when he was 15 and I was 17. He was an innocent little skater boy back then. A young boy with an underlying mental health issue. He too was searching for stillness. He also craved silence.
With years of being amongst Sydney’s most infamous graffiti and street fighting crew, Stintz’s defense, or more like attack, of the manic mind was to not only bury it in substance abuse, but to also crush it down through adrenaline filled, life on the edge experiences. Not sky-diving, or swimming with sharks, mind you. More like bursting into a business, jumping the counter, throwing an employee to the ground, and robbing them. Or like me, he also enjoyed a fight. He looked up to me. When I first met him, he was a short kid with blonde hair, looking for guidance. Now, four year later, still a touch shorter than me, he had broad shoulders, a thick neck with tattoos hugging it, and many scars on his beaten face. He now had a team of younger people looking up to him, and doing harsh acts at his request - the vicious cycle of gang life. You either fight your way to the top, or you’re left at the bottom doing things for those above you. Once at the top, it’s your turn to call the shots.
“Punchy, do you think I could beat him? He’s a big boy.” Stintz asked me a few months after I first met him. There was an older guy from a rival crew who had called Stintz out. People in our crew never backed down, even if it meant a possible defeat.
“Brother, he might be big, but his heart is nowhere near yours.” I attempted to raise his confidence.
“With you in my corner, Punchy, I’ll take on anyone.”
“I’ll always be in your corner, my boy.”
I was the main fighter in the crew, having grown up around the boxing scene, I won all of my street fights, bar one.
I started my downward spiral after getting kicked out of school at fifteen. Meeting the now infamous graffiti crew, RM, I fought my way into the crew. Growing up with a family of fighters, my dad and brother both professional boxers, I saw the way they were looked up to. Fighters were like gladiators in our circle. It deserved respect. I wanted that respect.
I just went about it the wrong way.
Years of organized street fights, getting stabbed twice; once in the lung, the other time in the head, and an unrelenting approach to gaining recognition, I soon saw myself at the top of the crew.
I was happy to be labelled a fighter, and leader. Again, I saw this as being like an ancient gladiator, and it gave me a false sense of power. It gave me an identity – one that helped me feign confidence. In front of the boys I was this big, strong leader. I could handle any situation and wouldn’t back down to anyone. I even looked happy.
Internally though, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was anxious, depressed, paranoid, and a lot of nights I would cry myself to sleep. In social situations away from the false confidence of gang life, I was incredibly awkward – if I had to meet someone for the first time, I would stutter, sweat, and be inside my head trying to work out how to get away. The label of fighter and leader I grasped with both hands because it helped me fake my way into feeling confident.
All this fighting, all this crime, all this drama... there was a deep method to our franticness.
I’m not sure if Stintz was aware, I don’t suppose I was back then either, but each of these things we were up to, was again, the result of us searching to relax our thoughts a bit. At the time of us committing these devastating acts, our thoughts were gone.
“You’ve got this, Punchy.” One of the boys barked at me from behind as I readied myself for a fight one Sunday afternoon. A park was the setting for our fight. This same park I used to kick the football around with my dad. Now, years later, I was hopefully going to stand above my knocked out opponent. Bouncing from foot to foot as I warmed myself up, I looked over at the guy I was about to fight, he had a few boys in his corner, I had the same.
The mind would tease...
What if he has a weapon?
Will he beat me?
He’s pretty big. So? Fuck him.
Imagine what the boys will think if I lose... You won’t lose.
I feel sick. Let’s get him.
Whack! My first punch brought silence... to the mind that it. Fighting was an active meditation. No thoughts. Stillness of mind. It was pleasurable. I look at everything that most people are addicted to, or enjoy, and it soon becomes evident, that the addiction, or joy, is caused by our lust of stillness. Of silence.
Take playing a sport, for example. You’re totally present. A golfer isn’t addicted to walking a course in shitty suit pants, nor do they enjoy hitting more bad shots than good. They’re in love with those microseconds of pure bliss as their eyes scan that ball floating through the air. The world could be ending outside that golf course but none of that matters to a still mind.
Stintz was really a good kid, but he was still a kid. Other people his age were being influenced by sports stars or celebrities. His mentors, like me, were leading him to jail.
“Well fuck this...” I said a little louder to my zombie-like friends, trying to force some energy into myself, and them. “If we’ve got none left, let’s go get some!”
So, there we sat. Stintz and me. In a stolen car, outside of a unit block that housed a drug dealer.
It was a beautiful beach side suburb, morning walkers strutting past, their smiling faces, healthy figures, and joyous energy, seemed to glide them across the footpath. The setting summed up my contrasting existence - a microcosm of my entire life. Like my life, the outside environment didn’t reflect what was happening on the inside. Soon a drug raid.
Fuck. What if he has a gun?
Hope he has heaps of cash too.
How many people are in there?
Should’ve brought more boys with us. But then we’d have to split the cash up more. Maybe we will go back and get some more boys.
Fuck doing it. I want to just go back to the house.
I don’t want to do this. What will the boys think if you bitch it? You have to go in.
Anyone watching us?
Should I do this? Fuck, what will dad do if I get busted? Ahhhhh!
“Alright, let’s go.”
The loud thoughts gone. The blurry static washed away, what was left was clean and pristine, a sense of ultimate presence. All my senses raised along with the hairs on my neck, but again, the blissful still mind was there - this is what I desired.
Soldiering across a grass patch still soaked with morning mist, I zeroed in on the front security door. It was more a hindrance door than a security door for my fat foot with 120 kilos behind it.
My armed robbery meditation was underway.
My body was tense, every vein rushing with blood, my accomplice ferocious in his skipped step. The grass sped past my feet. But... my mind was still. Taking a presence-filled deep breath as though I was deep into a meditation, I leaned on my left leg and lifted my right foot.
The hindrance door wasn’t even that. It ripped off the hinges and fell inward like the first in line of a standing domino. It was loud. That sound meant disorder.
Stintz was right behind me as we pounced over the floored door, and ran up carpeted steps. I could smell bacon cooking. Although the sounds of our raid were evident; doors smashing to the ground, our feet stomping upstairs, behind all of that... was a stillness. A deep silence within my own mind. A focus. My thoughts were gone. It’s what I always yearned for. It’s what all of us want.
Having bought drugs of this guy before, we knew exactly where his unit was. Two levels up sat our target. Reaching level 1, I heard a door slam closed. I noticed another open an inch, probably someone eyeing to see who had just trampled through their front security door. We didn’t care about their restful Sunday morning, we only cared about the reprieve from our minds. Turning up the final staircase, we ran up the remaining steps as I readied myself to kick down another door.
I froze. There he stood - our silent mind dealer.
Standing outside his unit door, barefoot, looking like he just woke up. He had no shirt on his white skinny body. A faded, poorly designed, dragon tattoo went from his belly button up over his chest. His hands behind his back.
“Punchy!” I felt Stintz grab my right arm. “Look out, he’s got something.”
Our target heard what Stintz said, and responded “It’s only what you’re after. I don’t want any bullshit.” Revealing what he held in his hands. A plastic bag filled with smaller sealed up satchels. Inside the satchels sat our little colourful pills of hope. Pills of solace. I went to smile before realizing that wasn’t what tough guys do.
“Where’s the cash?” Stintz shot out.
“Come on boys, I’ve got family here.” He pleaded.
“Well, you better want to go grab that cash then before we bust down that door too.” I said, nodding towards his blue front door that stood tall behind him.
“Wait a sec.” He said, handing me the bag of pills and turned around.
“Hey.” I said, grabbing his arm firmly. He turned and looked me in my eyes. “Don’t fuck around.” I growled.
He shook his head and with a turn of a key, opened his door before sliding inside, not wanting to reveal to those inside that he was being robbed.
“Bro.” Stintz said. I looked over at him and although standing in the one spot, he was bouncing a little. He was excited. He looked like a kid about to run out to a filled-up Christmas tree on December 25.
“Let’s just run in there!” He suggested.
“Nah lad, just chill.” I said looking around at the rest of the units. I could hear people moving around and I pictured them all looking through their peep holes at the robbery going on.
“Just chill.” I said again.
I heard an unclick of a lock on our target’s blue door. Sliding back out, he had another plastic bag, this time smaller. “Here, it’s all I’ve got. I’m done with this shit.” He passed the now unwanted batten.. It felt as though he was handing me his old life. Ridding himself of the drama that being a drug dealer comes with. Drama I was happy to take for now.
“Look what we got boys!” I said entering the room filled with depleted bodies. Throwing the bag of pills on the ground I noticed a touch of energy raised in each person. Stintz sat on the floor to lay down. His energy went the other way.
A robbery can take it out of you.
“Open your mouth brother.” I said to Stintz as I started throwing ecstasy at him. After four attempts one landed in his mouth as he chased it with some water.
“Throw me another.” He said, as I swallowed two.
These mornings were far too common. At the time I didn’t know why I searched to always further my high. Often, when off our faces on drugs, I would get an insight into my boy’s internal struggles.
“Punchy, I’m not looking forward to tomorrow when I’m coming down. I’m already doing my head in. I’m going to try get a girl over to keep me company. I hate being by myself. You know what I mean?”
Before hearing thing like this, I thought I was the only one with the loud mind. I had no idea my boys were the same. We all suffered internally, so why did we keep doing things that ended in us suffering even more? At the time I didn’t know why.
I do now.