131 Box: Path of Purpose
Paperback, 5.5x8.5 in, 140 pages
Wheatmark, November 2006
Many people speak of the importance of leading a purpose-driven life, but it is not an easy task for those who live in abject poverty. In 131 Box: Path of Purpose, Bruce Hawkins describes how he fought to realize his dreams in a world defined by crime, drugs, death, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness.
Transcending color lines and generational divides, Bruce's powerful story will inspire you to find the meaning in your own struggles, and to overcome them.
About the Author
Please visit Bruce Hawkins's website at www.131box.com.
The title of this book refers to a game that I believe characterizes the mind-set and culture of a people intimately related to my purpose. Games are suitable metaphors for life because as humans, generally speaking, we are naturally competitive. Not only must we feel as if our efforts have distinguishable rewards, but we need an opponent. Even if we are only competing against ourselves, we need to feel as if we are fighting for something or someone. Our individual competitive spirits singularly facilitate diversity in every aspect of life. My analogy between life and games or sports is not simply about wins or losses, but more importantly the psychological approach and effort that we exert to achieve our goals and find meaning in our struggles. In this vein, the lives we live are much like the games we play, and vice versa.
Some games are more suitable to characterize and symbolize certain environments than others. Perhaps in Europe the game that best describes the culture is soccer, for this is a sport that unifies the European nations. Families, towns, and cities socialize in masses, and through these unions, fans and athletes alike both give life and receive meaning through this sport that they love so dearly. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the games outlive their quarters. Furthermore, through our use of sports apparel, equipment, behavior, and language, but most importantly our thoughts and actions, we are allowed to realize how games symbolize and influence our concepts of life.
My story, my game, begins in the ghetto. My use of the term "ghetto" in this book refers to the designated allotment of land use for minorities and/or people of low socioeconomic backgrounds. Most immigrant groups in America have had their own ghetto once upon a time. Furthermore, I use the term to make apparent the harsh and unsuitable living conditions, and not as a title for a people. Therefore, my story remains universally applicable due to challenges that extend beyond the color of skin, language barriers, or socioeconomic classes. It is a story of struggles overcome and the realization of my purpose: to assist in the empowerment of all people that suffer from poverty of the mind, body, or soul.
Some may say the game that characterizes the ghetto is basketball. Some say itís football. Others may even say itís handball or baseball. Most, if not all, of these sports would sufficiently characterize the spirit of my people. Yet there is still a better choice: the lottery.
The lottery best captures the essence of the ghetto. For if one is able to understand the diverse motivations of its players and enthusiasts, I believe that one could comprehend the difficulty of life in the ghetto and, more importantly, life in poverty. Lotto is the only game that plays against you. It is played as some persons in depressed states live, for it is a game or practice that begins as a calculated risk and can become a habit or an addiction, in which purpose is completely disconnected from the act of playing. The probability of winning is so low that some believe that it is just like giving money away. In fact, most people expect to lose.
Ironically, even in success there is an unwarranted sense of safety and comfort because without proper planning and purpose the prize or jackpot can be both a gift and a curse. Nevertheless, a stable enthusiasm for the game is maintained because people who live in poverty exhaust themselves in trying to find a way out. Despite the risks involved in the game, there is an illusionary respite from oneís pain, and an ephemeral dream is born when one buys a lotto ticket. For if one wins, one could receive a substantial amount of money and the opportunity to capitalize on oneís dreams.
There are many types of lottery games that allow you to select a certain amount of numbers with varying monetary rewards. There is Pick 10, Win 4, Quick Draw, Take Five, Mega Millions, Keno, State Lotto, and Numbers. The most popular game in my family was Numbers. The particular game that we played required only three numbers to be played either straight or box for the price of fifty cents or one dollar. If one played a number straight, that meant that in order to win, a specific and noninterchangeable arrangement of numbers needed to be matched in order. If one played box, any variation on a set of numbers was sufficient to win a game.
I have played the lotto since age nine. I started putting numbers in for my grandparents and parents at the corner stores in New York. I realized that all the players had a dream, goal, or motive to play at one point in their lives: maybe a new car, a new house, a new outfit, tuition, or rent money. I had a dream also; I always wanted to control my future. Eventually, I began playing my own numbers with that in mind.
131 Box was the number I played. My birthday is January 31, so 131 is a numerical representation of me. My box is the combination of my skills, experiences, attributes, and dreams that make me unique and allow me to empower others. They are the tools that I use to acquire and maintain success. Metaphorically speaking, 131 Box represented my ticket out of the ghetto and the poverty of mind, body, and soul. 131 Box is what I give to inspire you.