"I BREATHE THE FIRE OF MY MISTAKES INTO THE DARKNESS ... SO OTHERS MAY SEE."
-A. LAWRENCE HASKINS
I imagine this is the part where I'm supposed to tout all of my accomplishments, list in exhaustive detail my career trajectory and essentially, regale you with the polished and pristine "version" of my life up to this point. Well, sorry to shatter expectations, but that's not going to happen. At least not in the sense of me exclusively sharing the savory bits of who I am.
There's only one version to any individual's life and that's the true version. And no one's truth consists solely of thoughtful and meaningful dialogue, selfless acts or correct choices ... So here goes the short, not-always-so sweet version of my journey in all its complex, at times disappointing and at other times triumphant glory.
I was born Arlin Lawrence Haskins to the union of Edward and Lucille Haskins on October 14, 1970. There have been times throughout my life where I've gone by Arlin and others, Lawrence. I think I favor Lawrence more because to me, it sounds more ... audibly palatable (insert vanity here). A close friend of mine did an armchair analysis and stated that my waffling on this matter was indicative of my search to find who I really am. And here I thought I just wanted something that looked cool on the cover of my books. But whatever.
To be sure, I've not always held the highest view of myself and with good reason, throughout the course of my life, I've made some of the most horrendous, disastrous and selfish decisions one could imagine. However, and in spite of these things, I've managed to learn from (most of) my mistakes and scrambled to higher philosophical and moral ground. From my days in the early 90's as a proud member to the United States Armed Services, to my very recent turn as a solutions consultant for the largest tech company in the world, to my current tenure as the director of US Operations for the Kunta Kinteh Foundation, one of the most culturally and historically significant nonprofits in operation today, I definitely feel fortunate to be here. And again, not because I've lived a perfect life. To the contrary, my life has been full of bumps, bruises and wrong turns, some self-inflicted, some not. So when I am honored to stand before young juvenile offenders and speak, I do so with great passion and care, for in them rests the trajectory of the world in which we all live. When I sit to write a blog or social media post, a short story or a novel and whether it be fiction or nonfiction, I do so with a sense of gratitude knowing that souls far less careless than I once was do not now, nor will they ever, for one reason or another, have the opportunity to sit and do what they love day in and day out.
My journey, as tumultuous as it has lent itself to be at varying times, has birthed my mission. And that mission is simply to see the world through a empathetic lens and serve its inhabitants, no matter their ethnicity, creed, religious affiliation or sexual orientation, with a level of compassion that plants a sense of hope, direction and dignity within the thought processes of everyone I am fortunate enough to reach through my written work, podcasts or public speaking. We're in this together and the only way we will move forward as a collective and diverse society, is together.
"THE RECKONING AT GREEN HILL" Pt. 1
I had such an awe-inspiring time speaking with the young men housed at Green Hill Juvenile Detention facility in Chehalis, Washington. We musn't leave these young ones behind!
"THE RECKONING AT GREEN HILL" Pt. 2
More of my conversation with the young men housed at Green Hill Juvenile Detention facility in Chehalis, Washington.