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My Short-Lived Life of Crime

Elliott Erwitt boy with gun pittsburg pa 1950
elliott erwitt boy with gun pittsburg pa 1950

So I just finished reading a post from one of my favorite bloggers. I love the guy because he is so brutally honest that you find yourself literally gasping at his willingness to say that he’s done the kinds of things you’ve done but would NEVER tell.  Like cheating. Like lying. Like making a fool of yourself to impress other people or trying to buy love or going into a depression where you don’t bathe for days or whatever.

This post was about his stealing $15.00 as a kid. And it made me think of how, when I was about twelve years old, I kept myself in candy bars by stealing them from the Walgreens on the corner of 111th & Michigan. Most of the time, I didn’t even really take the candy out of the store, I’d just open it and eat it in the aisles. One day I got really clever and I stole a Skor candy bar by tearing a hole in a box of diapers for my little brother and sticking the candy bar in there. I then went to the cash register and paid for the diapers and watched the cashier bag up the diapers AND my stolen candy. I felt like some kind of criminal mastermind!

This went on uneventfully for a few weeks. I don’t know why I started doing it in the first place. There were lots of things I wanted, but I don’t think I ever stole anything but candy. And then, one day, I stopped. Just like I started. I didn’t stop out of guilt, exactly. I don’t remember feeling guilty. But I do remember feeling like a thief. And it occurred to me that I was not a thief. It was as though I’d tried on a suit jacket and looked at myself in the mirror, smoothing the lapels and tugging on the sleeves, checking the buttons for fit.

And the “thief” suit didn’t fit. So I took it off.

Sometimes when I’m trying to shed a bad habit (Hey, cussing–I’m looking at you!) I try to capture that feeling again. I try to remind myself that some things aren’t me, even if I have been doing them. I try to remind myself that I can change, not by shaming myself or guilting myself, but by really seeing who I am.  Or who I want to be. Because really, aren’t they the same person?

  • Ty

    Shoplifting candy by hiding them in diaper boxes

  • Ty

    [** insert cuss words here **]

    What I MEANT to say was “Shoplifting candy by hiding them in diaper boxes?  Brilliant.”  When I was a kid, we just plain ol’ vanilla stole candy and junk food.  But I’m not here to sing the praises of petty larceny… LOL… the last paragraph is what got to me.  “Aren’t they the same person?”  Good question.  On the surface, I’d say “no.”  But when you really think about it, they are (or could be).  Seeing who you are and seeing who you want to be, to me, means that you’re looking at yourself through a prism of foresight and hacking away the unessentials (tm – Bruce Lee).

    However, one could argue that as long as you are growing and changing, the person you are and the person you want to be are different, because of the changes… because of the growth… because of the lessons learned… because of the shedding of bad habits.  When I think about it, from my perspective, I’m not the same person I once was.  And when it’s all said and done, I won’t be the same person I am now, which isn’t a bad thing.

    • Anonymous

      I hear you. I guess what I mean is that the part of you that wants you to be the best you is the REAL you. Why not? The part that is dissatisfied with who you are is real you and is telling current you that you’re not acting like real you–so stop it! LOL!