Vice. I can’t imagine my life without it – I don’t know if I’d have a shred of virtue without it either. As he tells it, Saint Augustine roared and reared through his 30th year prior to converting to Christianity – he womanized, drank, and gambled away nearly half his life. I’ve done much the same, though I’ve always felt compelled to explore something greater. My bedstand has typically had a Bible on it (there is a fair amount of hypocrisy involved in the placement of the book, admittedly), and my bookshelf has been full of books that explored the mysteries of the faith (most of which I didn’t take the time to fully read). I spent my time trying to get laid, get a head-change, and simply searching for the next big thing. I was very good at sin. I have a certain hearty constitution that lends itself well to booze, drugs, and long periods of time without sleep – nights that were almost inevitably followed by 12+ hour days at work. I championed the cause of sin, and I had a certain charisma that made it easy to persuade others to follow.
I drank, I womanized, and I set my mind and body out in the sea of the world without a sail to guide it. I can’t say that I’m proud of all that, but I can’t say I’m ashamed for all of it either. Regardless of the course, I landed where I landed and I’m happy here. I look back on some of those times fondly; I did have fun after all – and it would be difficult to say all of those formative moments were bad for me. I made many great friends that I could not be the same without. I learned self-control by pressing the mind’s ability to control itself. Vice is what made me, to some degree.
Not all Christians need to walk down that path to get to God, but I believe that was probably the plan for me. Vice is the mirror I look into, and the reverse is virtue. I’m not where I want to be yet, and to some degree I still wear the shackles of my old ways. I wrestle with smoking, drinking, and the good ol’ primal impulse like everyone else. The proverbial cursing sailor would cringe at some of my more creative moments. But I believe there’s a better way – a path that ends up with me being the complete person that I was supposed to be, absent the nonsense and the filler. Absent the anchor. I’m getting there. I hope that one day I can lead others to virtue in the same way I led them to vice.