Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to go.
Can People Really Change?
David Lucero knows where he wants to go: He wants to go to El Paso, Texas.
David is about sixty years old, I think. For the last three months, he has been living on a sidewalk
across the street from a Greyhound bus station.
I don’t know how long David has been homeless. He is one of America’s walking wounded—
mentally ill, unable to take care of himself, unable to cope with the business of life. He is always
happy to talk, although you have to repeat yourself a few times before he can understand you:
David is losing his hearing.
One day I tried to take him to a shelter for the homeless. All he had to do was get in the pickup
truck. He had to make a decision: Get in or stay on the street. The right decision could have
started the cycle of healing and change, but it was more than David was capable of doing that
morning. He decided to stay on the street, waiting for his imaginary ride to El Paso.
When I meet people like David, I tell myself that Lewis Carroll didn’t make anything up when
he wrote Alice in Wonderland. I have met many people who are flesh and blood Cheshire Cats,
Mad Hatters, and Queens of Hearts.
I come into contact every day with people whose lives and families have been torn apart by bad
habits: people addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs; over-spenders, overeaters, and
chronic worriers; negative thinkers, procrastinators, and people who won’t forgive themselves
for something that happened long ago.
I have seen firsthand how bad habits keep ordinary people from living happier and healthier
lives. Everywhere you look, people want to know why they are unhappy. And they want to know
what they can do about it.
The talk shows offer a constant menu of miracle cures for every type of bad habit imaginable—
everything from quick weight-loss programs to 20-minute lessons in positive thinking that
promise to cure depression. We are constantly bombarded by programs that promise effortless
and immediate results: Lose weight fast, while eating as much as you want! Guaranteed to work!
We are overwhelmed with solutions today. And the more solutions there are, the harder it is to
find one that works. Many people have failed so many times that they’ve almost given up the
battle. Others gave up a long time ago.