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The Second Simple Shift

The young man studied the Gardener's sun-streaked face, his dark eyes, his cracked lips.

The Gardener whispered, "Your father gave me a totally new perspective on life."

His lips trembled as though he were deciding whether to say more. Then he sighed. "Before I met him, I used to be depressed about my whole life. My relationship with my own dad was completely destroying me. I hated my dad! I hated him like I've never hated anyone! I wished he would just die!"

The young man searched the Gardener's eyes, encouraging him to go on.

The Gardener drew a deep breath. "My dad was nothing like your father. My dad was —" And then his face crumbled.

The Gardener looked up at the sky. The young man followed his gaze. The rain had stopped but the clouds looked low, dark, heavy, ready to burst again.

The Gardener resumed his story. "I still remember the family trying to make do, living on welfare checks. Sometimes, mom would have just ten dollars in her purse and we didn't have the faintest clue where the next meal was coming from.

"I still remember Christmas. We would celebrate it a week after everyone else. We'd wait until one of our neighbors had discarded their tree. We'd scavenge the neighborhood for discarded trinkets and wrapping paper and ribbons."

A tear rolled down the Gardener's face. "They say adversity draws people together, making them more resilient, more resourceful. But adversity tore our family apart.

"Dad started staying out late practically every night, coming home drunk. He'd tramp right into our bedrooms at three in the morning, kick our shoes loudly across the room, yell foul language, slap us if we didn't get out of bed fast enough.

"I was so out of my wits, I was afraid that one day I wouldn't be able to contain myself any longer and I would hit him. I lived with this terror for years. Looking back, I'm not sure how I survived it."

The young man couldn't contain himself any longer. He leaned over and hugged the Gardener.

The Gardener pulled himself together and, between sobs, continued. "Eventually, mom passed away — a helpless, weary woman. Soon after, my brothers and sisters scattered. Every once in a while, if I can locate them, I call them. They are all bitter, lost souls — either addicted and don't know it, or in rehab.

"Dad now lives in a senior citizen center six hundred miles away. No one calls him. No one cares.

"Every year, I feel guilty around the holidays, so I visit him for Thanksgiving. Every year, I swear it will be the last time. He makes me feel so miserable, so small, so worthless, even though we both know I'm doing him a favor. He has no one in his life now.

"This past Thanksgiving, I had absolutely made up my mind that I wasn't going to see him again. I said to myself I didn't have to put up with him any more. It's a good thing I talked things over with your father!"

The young man knew that one more layer of his father's secret was about to unfold.

The Gardener continued. "This past Thanksgiving was the best I've spent with my dad in my entire life. I still can't believe it!

"If one dad and his son, who have hardly talked to each other all their lives, can find a way to connect and communicate, then there is hope and inspiration for everyone — Everyone! There is hope for anyone who has ever been in a relationship that has become estranged."

His face glowed. "Your father was right, you know. This is how we can all make the world a better place. I'm so grateful I had that talk that afternoon with your father —"

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Front Cover
The First Page
An Ending
A New Perspective
The First Simple Shift
The Second Simple Shift
The Third Simple Shift
A Challenge

Yes, You Can Change the World - Order the Book

Yes, You Can Change the World by Aman Motwane
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