Here is an excerpt from my memoir, to understand my journey ......
Here I was, back in my old city, hanging around the same buildings that I grew up with, now even more dilapidated than I could remember. I had lost everything and was now back at ground zero with my mom and her boyfriend Nate, a loud, charismatic, “act before you think” type of person who had just spent over ten years in prison. He wasn't a bad man, just loud and obnoxious. I had the idea to wait until my tax return came in and getting back out on the road again, but to where I didn't know at the moment. I didn't know much at that time, but I knew I didn't want to stay, and if I had to get a job it was going to be worth my time, but another problem is that there wasn't much to choose from. From there I went to the welfare office to apply for food stamps. I told myself that I had paid enough into the system to now be able to proudly take something back from it. I guess it's what I had to tell myself so I wouldn't have to face the fact that I was humiliated and needed as much help as possible. You know what, ignorant pride is fucking stupid.
I brought with me a few pairs of clothes and shoes, and the burning desire to figure out the meaning of life, especially now, after seeing what losing all of my material assets could do to a person. I was in a desperate place, and all I had to hold me up was my small understanding of meditation and these books that I was now reading at the local library. This new position I found myself in was going to take some faith and resilience. Even though I didn't have the most ideal upbringing, my family made sure that all the children attended church almost every Sunday. I'm pretty sure it was for deeply religious reasons from our ancestors, but I'm also sure it was to get rid of the kids for a few hours. It was perfect for them, because all they had to do was wake us up and make sure we were ready when the church bus showed up, and then send us out the door and on our way as fast as possible.
The church we attended for most of our childhood was called Fairhaven Baptist Church. It was a church that could get a person teased by the "cool" people in the neighborhood. The church was in Chesterton, Indiana, a more rural area with a majority of white people that sent buses out every Sunday to all the neighborhoods in Gary to bring them to church. As a kid from our area, this was the place to go to have some fun and get out the hood for a while. They fed us, gave us opportunities to win prizes, let us run around, and gave us a safe place to sleep for a while on the bus. A few of the ways to win prizes were to sing gospel songs the loudest, answer bible questions the most, and bring as many guests as possible, which are all things I did pretty regularly, so much so that they had to consciously give prizes to other people just to make it fairer to everyone involved. Little did I know I was becoming more and more knowledgeable of the bible by trying to win every single church competition. I even came close to attending their school, but what stopped me was when my stepfather tried to get the church people to pay him some money to have me attend. Yes, there was tuition to attend. That’s life, and life includes paying your way!
I learned as much as I could about the bible, and did everything I could to believe in it, but what was happening at home overpowered my belief. That harsh reality at home, however, didn't stop us from going to church. As we got a little older, we went to Aunt Reneé’s church, the Faith Temple Deliverance Center. Faith Tabernacle Deliverance Center had a slick-talking, laid-back preacher that looked like a pimp, or at least that's what I thought when I was a kid. We also went to Allen Chapel C.M.E. church, a house of worship featuring a fire-breathing preacher who ran an afterschool program and cursed too damn much. I'm sure that these men loved Jesus in their way and did their best to spread the good news, but it just didn't work for me. While attending both of these churches, I found it more entertaining as far as what was going on with the members of the church, rather than the actual sermons preached. As I became more and more independent, I moved further and further away from the church and Christianity in particular. I still had Jesus and the teachings within me, but I definitely wasn't able to deal with the church any longer. Desperate times, however, called for desperate measures, so I went back to Allen Chapel. There was a new preacher at that time, a compassionate woman who seemed sincere. I could listen to and retain the information that she was putting out, and many of the sermons made sense concerning my situation. Going to church and reading the spiritual self-help books were all helping me to have faith in something bigger than my situation, even though I still felt like the weight of the world had come crumbling down on me.
I'm also reminded of the time when I attended a place named The Church Without Walls in
Houston. This was a beautiful church with thousands of members, and offering many outreach programs, nationally and internationally. I enjoyed it because it just radiated positivity, encouragement, action and sincerity. The preacher there was pretty real and didn't seem to hide much at all. I respected that and would go back to this non-denominational church for the experience alone. My belief grew there, but even though I felt good when I went and I was living well at the time, the demons inside me continued to show their faces. I wanted to get rid of them completely and not cover them up with happy thoughts and feelings. These were also the same feelings and thoughts that I had been having as I continued day in and day out when I was reading all of the amazing books from my search for the meaning of life during my time in Houston and Indiana. This was all that I needed at the time, though, no matter if it was a permanent or a temporary remedy.
I also remember when I was in Houston and I went to a couple of Buddhist temples in an attempt to learn how to meditate. Going to church and my understanding of believing didn't seem to be helping me, so now I wanted to see what meditation would do. I did that, and while there I met with a very deeply spiritual man who gave me some wisdom that helped me to have just a little more faith in something, I didn't know exactly what that something happened to be. Back in Gary, I continued to study, but I also had to try to find something to study that was a little more grounded, so I began reading books about acting! Not too grounded, I guess. The plan had morphed into me getting my refund check and moving to San Diego with Aunt Theresa and her family before heading off to Los Angeles, California to pursue acting. I guess the reading was paying off in the form of greater self-confidence or just a stronger belief in myself. I was going to have to be resilient.
The main reason that I wanted to become an actor was so that I could come back and build up my community, while making enough money to do what I wanted to do. That was pretty deep. But a deeper reason was that I wasn't satisfied with myself and I didn't like who I was, so I wanted to run as far away from Anthony Vaughn as possible. I had dreamed up many amazing ideas as to how I would fix up my city, but how could I acquire the resources to get into an acting school such that I would end up in a better position and be able to make this newfound dream of mine come true?
Somehow, I found out that Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson had an open-door policy toward the citizens of her city. Granny used to do her hair when she was a little girl. She went to Harvard and somehow had the ear of the President of the United States at the time, Mr. Barack Obama. I happened upon all this information by talking to Granny and doing research on the library computer. I also researched information on the history of Gary, Indiana, and found out that it used to be a well-oiled machine, but was now really rundown and in debt, brought on by mayors with the right intentions but the wrong ideas. There was, however, hope for me and the city if the mayor would just accept my proposal, so before I arranged my meeting with the Mayor, I wrote out my proposal, which I still have today. The proposal was for the city of Gary to fund my schooling and, in return for that investment in my education, I would return to the city and fix it up, step by step. Dream big or go home, right?
I went in and talked to the mayor about the city, giving her the ideas of a man that was now
living at his mothers and nothing to call his own. That was reality. No matter how good the ideas were or how much sense they made, I had no power backing me up. Nonetheless, I went in and boldly submitted my proposal to her anyway. She listened, thanked me for coming in, and invited me to come to a town hall where she would be announcing to residents that the Obama administration had tapped Gary to be one of seven cities that would receive funding from the HUD department for what was called the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Program. While there, I listened and then went to the microphone, because they also let the residents speak. I expressed a bit more clearly the sentiments of the people that had spoken before me, and let the residents know that the mayor was doing her best. The video is somewhere out there.
I also left my proposal with Mr. Antonio Riley, the HUD regional administrator at that time. As you may have already concluded, the mayor wasn't able to accept my offer with all of the work she had in front of her, including the Northside Redevelopment Project, which was and still is one of her main focal points for a city that was on the decline in every imaginable way. I was very appreciative of the opportunity, but it was time to go. I bid my mom and family farewell once again, and off to San Diego I went with a few dollars in my pocket and a dream.
About Anthony Vaughn: My name is Anthony Vaughn and I am from Gary, Indiana where I grew up with deep, dark past life karma. This book about my life is to encourage and inspire others to overcome and release what's false to reveal who they truly are. This exposure of myself is a small sacrifice for the greater good (https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/balancing-dark-with-light) and it's the prequel to my follow up book, Balancing Light with Dark Humans Let's Stop Being Shi**y. For those of you who would like to know me more, my birthday is August 4th, 1985@ 1:55PM and I was born in Waukegan, Illinois. Through my astrology chart you'll understand more of why I written these types of books.
Anthony's website: balancingdarkwithlight.com.
Find his book on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Vaughn/e/B07XD4G2RW?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000