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Jeff Henderson’s Journey Essay


In his book Cooked: My Journey from the Streets to the Stove, Jeff Henderson shows how people can perceive their successes and failures and how they can respond to the difficulties that they may encounter. To a great extent, his memoir illustrates a very old proverb.

In particular, it is often said that “when we think we’re rising in life, we’re really falling and when we think we’re falling, we’re really rising” (“All 4 Cooked Lessons”). This proverb may seem paradoxical; moreover, this may be easily accepted by people because it is very counter-intuitive.

This is one of the issues that be taken into account. However, this argument is perfectly illustrated in Jeff Henderson’s autobiography which shows the transformation of a person’s values. In particular, the writer shows that in the course of his life, he reached the state of moral degradation, recognized the causes his downfall, and profoundly changed many of his worldviews. This is the main argument that should be analyzed more closely in this paper.

Jeff Henderson’s transformation

At first, one should pay attention to Jeff Henderson’s behavior, especially before his imprisonment. When he was engaged in criminal activities, he was firmly convinced that he could easily achieved prosperity and success without having to bear responsibility for his decisions.

He was unwilling to think about the dangers of his behavior and its long-term implications for his future. This is one of the aspects that can be identified. Additionally, he believed that the police officers would be unable to find evidence against him (Henderson 72). To some degree, this person thought that he had been almost infallible. Only later, he learned that police had been watching him for a long time (“All 4 Cooked Lessons”). In this case, it is possible to speak about the illusion of invincibility which usually results in many errors.

On the whole, he believed that he could be impervious to any outside factors. It should be kept in mind that at the age of twenty-one, Jeff Henderson could gain approximately $ 30000 within a week by selling crack cocaine (Henderson 5). This is why the author sought that he could soon reach the pinnacle of success without any difficulty. Yet, this conviction was just an illusion.

One should bear in mind that it did not occur to him that his activities could endanger the life and health of many people who became addicted to drugs. Thus, one can argue that his alleged rise was not driven by any moral compass (“All 4 Cooked Lessons”). These examples illustrate the first part of the proverb. Jeff Henderson failed to notice that his lifestyle was self-destructive and delusionary. This form of existence could not last for a long time. This is one of the arguments that can be put forward.

It is possible to say that this behavior is typical of many people who are eventually imprisoned due to some reason. This is the main issues that can be distinguished. This detail is important for understanding the factors that could have Jeff Henderson’s to his incarceration.

Nevertheless, one should not forget about his family environment that shaped his moral outlook and attitudes toward others. His relatives failed to safeguard him against the negative influence of peers whose deviant behavior was later emulated by Jeff Henderson. Thus, their failures cannot be disregarded by the readers of this book.

However, Jeff Henderson’s life changed profoundly at the moment that he understood the degree of his downfall. At first, the very sight of prison profoundly produced a depressing impression on him. He says, “My stomach started to knot up as we passed the Coast Guard station” (Henderson 102).

This was the moment when he began to understand the long-term consequences of his previous activities. Furthermore, he became completely dependent on the will of the guards such as Big Bubba (Henderson 79). So, the loss of freedom was an important turning point for him because it prompted him to think about the underlying causes of his incarceration (“All 4 Cooked Lessons”).

However, this event was an important stimulus for him. In particular, Jeff Henderson had to acquire and develop new skills. For instance, he was offered an opportunity to work in the prison kitchen. One can argue that his life in prison laid the foundation for his future career in Caesars Palace or Café Bellagio.

Moreover, the writer understood that he could really excel in some area without having to break the law. This knowledge was of great importance to the author because it enabled him to live through the difficult years of imprisonment. This is one of the points that can be made. Additionally, Jeff Henderson had to reevaluate many of the things that he had previously taken for granted.

In particular, he had to acknowledge that in the past, his lifestyle was completely devoid of any ethical principles. He also changed his attitude toward many of those people who acted as role models for him. Apart from that, the author became more aware about the consequences of drug dealing and crime, in general (“All 4 Cooked Lessons”). These are the main improvements in his behavior. To some degree, these changes can be described with the help of the proverb mentioned in the introductory paragraph.

It is possible to say that Jeff Henderson’s book exemplifies the moral transformation of an individual. This autobiography is not a mere story of an ex-convict who was able to reintegrate himself into the society. More likely, this memoir shows how a person can derive moral lessons from his/her failures.

The main problem is that many people do not want to think about their own mistakes or morale fallacies. This is one of the reasons why some of them commit crimes after their release from prison. In many cases, they continue to be involved in criminal activities. As a matter of fact, some of them do even not see any reasons for changing their lifestyles or ethical principles.

In turn, Jeff Henderson’s book offers guidance and encouragement to people whose experiences are similar to the hardships faced by the author before and after his imprisonment. This is why this memoir can be of great value to many readers, especially at the moment when they need to cross an important turning point in their lives. In this work, the author tries to warn the readers against possible moral hazards and shows how one can avoid various pitfalls.

The changes in Jeff Henderson’s behavior illustrate a complex psychological phenomenon. Researchers point out that the chain of successes can lead to the illusion of infallibility and invincibility (Everson 76). Under such circumstances, a person may believe that he/she can easily take control of nearly everything. Additionally, this individual is not willing to questions the moral implications of his/her actions (Celati 143).

Thus, one can say that this problem is of great interest to various scholars, especially psychologists. Many people can be susceptible to this error, and Jeff Henderson was not an exception. This is the main reason why he chose to become a drug dealer. However, by recognizing his failures, the author was able to take a more critical look at his life. This decision distinguishes among other ex-convicts and people who pass through a period of moral crisis. This is why his example is worth considering.

Personal opinion

In my opinion, this book throws light on some underlying factors that shape the behavior of a person. An individual, who is convinced of his/her rectitude or invincibility, cannot always see the pitfalls

that should be avoided. In addition to that, such people are not willing to think about the impact of their activities on the lives of others. This is one of the arguments that I can put forward. Certainly, I have never faced the challenges encountered by Jeff Henderson. Nevertheless, I have heard of people who made similar errors. It is difficult to say that they were very similar to one another; however, they had some common qualities. In particularly, they believed that that the chain of their successes would never be interrupted.

Moreover, they did not pay much attention to the ethical aspects of their choices and the effects of their decisions. Therefore, the moral hazards described by Jeff Henderson can profoundly affect the decisions of a person. The main problem is that these people can occupy the position of authority.

They can shape the lives of many people. For example, one can mention the executives of Enron Corporation. They perpetrated one of the largest frauds in the history of the United States (Green and Gabor 116). Furthermore, they believed that their actions would never be discovered (Green and Gabor 116).

It did not even occur to them that they could bring a great number of people to the brink of poverty. They cherished the illusions described by Jeff Henderson in his book. Thus, one cannot argue that the author describes a unique situation. More likely, it is a very widespread phenomenon that can be observed in various situations. This is one of main aspects that can be singled out.


This discussion suggests that a person’s perception of failures and successes can profoundly his/her behavior. Due to various factors, Jeff Henderson almost lost the capacity for critical thinking and moral reasoning. His alleged successes made him believe that nothing could ever threaten him. Yet, he had to recognize his moral failures during his imprisonment. This decision enabled him to reintegrate into the community and achieve success.

His book exemplifies this moral transformation of an individual. Thus, the saying, which was quoted in the introduction, can be applicable to various people. This saying demonstrates that by recognizing one’s failures, an individual can better cope with different obstacles. The autobiography written by Jeff Henderson can be of great benefit to the readers who have to struggle with some ethical challenges. These are the main benefits of reading this text.

Works Cited

“All 4 Cooked Lessons on One Page”. Breakthrough Writer. 29 Jun. 2011. Web. <>.

Celati, Luca. The Dark Side of Risk Management: How People Frame Decisions in Financial Markets, Pearson Education, 2004. Print.

Everson, Stephen. Epistemology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Print.

Green, Phillip, and George Gabor. Misleading Indicators: How to Reliably Measure Your Business, New York: ABC-CLIO, 2012. Print.

Henderson, Jeff. Cooked: My Journey From the Streets to the Stove, New York: Harper Collins, 2007. Print.

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