The Bus Stop

by Josh Wilson
(Indiana)


Picture me sitting at a bus stop.

The weather is perfect.
The sun is shining.
I feel great.

Behind me is barn full of horses.
The horses represent my family.
But there is one Shire horse (The world's biggest horse) that stands out-- and that's my mother.

Beside me are two dogs, 8 cats, and I have a tree sloth hanging on my back.

One dog represents my self respect.
The other dog represents confidence.
The cats all represent one life each,
and the tree sloth, that I carry around with me wherever I go, represents my sense of humor.

In front of me is a highway.

Different cars drive by everyday,
and some of the drivers are my friends, and some are strangers.
There are also taxis that drive by frequently, they represent fakes friends.
Because the taxis don't care to stop unless I have money.

My friends stop by often, and sometimes I hop in the car with them.

But I always come back to the bus stop to feed the animals, spend time with the horses,
and to have some time alone.

One day as I'm sitting at the bus stop,
a car pulls up and out the window they say, "Hey, we're going to see alcohol. You coming?"
I'm sort of iffy about it because I've never met alcohol before.
But I get in the car anyways.

I meet alcohol for the first time, and we have I great time.
I decide I like alcohol.

We'd have our fun from time to time,
but I would always get dropped off back to the bus stop, to feed the animals, and visit the horses, and enjoy the nice weather.

Then another car pulls up and they say they are going to see alcohol again.
I happily get in the car.

Well, before I knew it, I was hopping in cars to go see alcohol every weekend.

Then it turns into more than just the weekends.

Eventually, I'm sitting at the bus stop with alcohol.

Some friends still stop by to pick me up, or talk for a minute, but after awhile the alcohol starts changing me.

It starts to cloud my judgement, and drastically change my personality.

I slowly stop feeding the animals.
I stop visiting the horses.
I don't even think about the cats.
But I'm still packing the tree sloth around wherever I go.

One day I'm drunk sitting at the bus stop and a car pulls up.
Someone says, "Hey, we're going to see meth. You coming?"

I'm hesitant and say, "I don't know. I've heard a lot of bad things about him."

They reply, "No, he's cool man. Hop in. No one will even know we went to see him."
So I drunkenly get in the car.

Before I know it, I'm disappearing from the bus stop for days.
I am no longer feeding the animals.
The horses are worried.

The Shire asks me where I been.
I lie.
The other horses tell me they've heard I've been riding around in cars I shouldn't be.
I lie again.

Time passes and I'm barely at the bus stop. I'm just hopping from car to car.

I'm even calling up taxis to pick me up, just so I don't have to be at the bus stop alone.

My friends drive by and see me getting into the taxis.
I don't care. I get in anyways.
The Shire is constantly warning me about getting into random taxis, but I don't listen.

Eventually, one day I get dropped off at the bus stop, and I just want to leave.
But nobody's stopping.
They just keep driving on by.
I wave to some of them, they wave back, but they won't stop.
Some ignore me all together.

I keep on hopping from car to car,
and getting into any taxi that will stop.

I feel great.
I act fine.
But deep down, I'm troubled.
Very troubled.

The horses are worried to death.
and the Shire is concerned and fearful.
I don't even notice.

Then one day as I'm sitting at the bus stop,
a car pulls up and says, "Hey, we're going to see heroin. You coming?"
Without thinking twice, I get in the car.
I mean, nobody else is stopping, so why the hell not.
I'm tired of being alone at the bus stop.

A lot more time passes,
I get dropped off at the bus stop by some random taxi after days on the run.
I'm wore out.
I'm completely drained.
I'm sad.

I'm sitting at the bus stop and it's pouring down rain.

I look around and notice that both of my dogs are no where to be found.
Self-respect-- gone.
Confidence-- gone.

But now there are four stray dogs that stay around.
These four dogs represent doubt, shame, self-hatred, and guilt.

On my back, I now carry two sloths around.
One of them is still my sense of humor (That I've never put down)
and the other sloth is very fat, and it represents regret.

Every day I sit at the bus stop alone.
I overwhelm myself with negative thoughts.
It's constantly raining.
I hate myself.
Every. Damn. Day.

My friends never stop. They barely drive by anymore.
The taxis don't care to stop because I don't have any money.
I feel too ashamed to go to the barn and visit the horses.
I miss my dogs.

I continue to try and fill the void and the emptiness I feel inside with alcohol and drugs.
Doing anything that helps me forget about the fat sloth on my back and the stray dogs.

But it only helps temporarily.

I might scrounge some change up and leave in a taxi for awhile, but I always end up back at the bus stop, alone.
All alone with these stray dogs and the negative thoughts, and the feelings of failure.

As I'm sitting there at the bus stop one day, a bus pulls up.
I've heard of the bus, I've seen the bus drive by a few times,
but I've never thought about getting on the bus.

The doors open the bus driver says, "You coming?"

I jokingly ask, "Where you headed?"

The bus driver replies,
"Aren't you tired of it all?
All the pain, all the loneliness, all the regret?
It's too late for you."

To my left I notice a homeless man pushing a shopping cart toward me coming down the sidewalk.

I look to the ground in shame, and realize he's right.

I turn around and look back at the horses one last time.

I stand up to start walking towards the bus,
but as I do the homeless man passing by hits me in the face with a wadded up piece of paper.

Confused, I look down at the piece of paper, and then at the homeless man.

He confidently nods his head and keeps walking.

I reach down and grab the wadded up piece of paper and open it.

Inside it reads, "It's never too late."

I quickly look to the homeless man, but he's gone.

I'm completely stunned.

I look to the bus driver as he says, "Are you coming or not?"

I sit back down.

The bus driver shakes his head, closes the doors, and drives away.

Filled with anger and determination,
I stand up and take the fat sloth off my back.
I scare away all the stray dogs.
The doubt.
The shame.
The self-hatred.
The guilt.
GONE.

I grab every bottle I see and throw it in the trash.

I walk back to the barn and greet the horses.
The Shire looks deeply saddened and troubled.
I tell the Shire that it's over.
And that I'm done living like this.

The Shire lights up like a Christmas tree.
I hug her, and I tell her I'm sorry.

At this point, you are probably wondering what happened to the 8 cats?

Well as I said in the beginning, each cat represents one life.

From behind the bar a single cat walks out and comes to my feet.

See during all of this running around,
I had quit thinking about the cats altogether.

But over the course of traveling the roads I took,
I experienced three bad car wrecks, and four overdoses.
How I came back from them, or survived the car wrecks without a scratch is beyond miraculous.

I don't know how, or why, I still have this one cat left.
But I am taking care of it to the best of my ability.

Fast forward a couple months, and I'm sitting at the bus stop.
I got my one cat-- my life.
My two dogs-- confidence and self-respect.
The Shire and the other horses are happy.
And I have one new dog-- Happiness.

The weather is great.
The sun is shining.
Things aren't perfect, but they're getting there, one day at a time.

Some of my friends stop by to see me.
I only get into the cars that I trust.
The taxis ask me if I need a lift from time to time, but I politely decline.

You see, it wasn't any of the drivers' faults for the roads I went down.
I'm the one who chose to get in the car in the first place.

Sometimes the stray dogs come around, but I don't feed them.
And the bus that used to come by every once in awhile, doesn't at all.

The bus represents suicide.
And the devil was the bus driver.

And if you're asking, "Well, then who is God?"

God is the one who gave me the cats.

And Jesus is the man who hit me with the piece of paper that said, "It's never too late."

Stop guilt tripping, doubting, and hating yourself.
Self-pity and self-loathing will get you absolutely no where.

Forgive yourself.

Remember that you are worthy of happiness and a great life.

Make a change.

If you're at the very bottom, Up is the only way to go now.

You can't undo the things you've done, and that's tough.
But you've got to learn to accept what has happened, and move on.

Change starts from within.

Let go of absolutely everything that is weighing you down and stopping you from being happy.

And remember: Your past is the key, it's not the lock.

God bless.

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- Matthew 7:7-8


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