Why are we here? What is our purpose? What puts meaning in our lives? What gives us that sense of purpose that this is not all for nothing? Is there something bigger than you that keeps you going or are all of your efforts for pure self fulfillment? Regardless of how you respond to any of these questions, there is one thing that motivates us all and that we all seek to have and will in most cases die to protect; our Freedom. So if you are in a situation such as i am (prison) what freedom am i talking about?
There are many forms of bondage. Even out there in the “free world” one can feel like they are imprisoned in some way or other. But in here where most of our activities are severely regulated, from our eating, to using the phones, bathroom usage, going to the commissary, to name a few….how then do we maintain and protect any sense of freedom real or imagined?
One thing I’ve come to realize during my 36 years of imprisonment is that the most important possession I have is my heart! There was a time when I lost even that, and allowed it to turn dark and selfish and full of self hate and hate for most others, i didn’t care about my life or the life of others. How did I manage to breathe new life and light into a darkened heart then?
The most important way was through the help of others who took time to breathe life into me. Who said they saw extreme good and potential in me and a will to overcome adversity and struggle and excel right where i am and be a good man right where i am…. these were words spoken to me over the years from strangers and friends who took time out from their lives maybe out of a sense and desire to have an impact in someone’s life or out of curiosity, whatever the reason their efforts were not in vain. Their contribution to my life was worthwhile.
So getting back to my point for all this….what do I do to keep my spirit up, to hold onto some semblance of hope, purpose, and most important, protect that most important thing we all desire: Freedom, as illusive as it may be in here? The one thing as i said i am ultimately in charge of, in control of what goes in and what comes out, is my heart! My heart is mine! No one any longer controls what it will feel or what it will propel. Particularly, my circumstances no longer dictate what my heart tells me about myself. I freed my heart from an imprisonment of circumstance.
Similarly, My mind is mine! And the mind is a beautiful thing! Do you know that i once thought i was mildly retarded! I did not think I could learn anything new. I could barely read or write when I came to prison. I surely didn’t have a mind of my own, I didn’t know how to think for myself. There is such a huge difference between being told what to think and knowing how to think. Schools today for instance, focus on telling students what to think and not teaching them how to think. When I realized I had a mind of my own and could think for myself my entire life began to change. I started asking questions like why did I like certain things over others and is that how I truly felt about it? Where did those feelings and thoughts come from?
Left to my own desires would I have innately been drawn to such beliefs and behaviors and feelings? I began to examine everything, and I mean everything! When I came out of it I could say with surety I knew myself. I know what I want. I know what I like. I know how to get the best out of myself. Most importantly, I knew what kind of person I wanted to be. It begins with protecting that most sacred part of yourself, your heart. I realize that as long as I am alright there, then I will be alright no matter what. Believe in yourself no matter what. Arise and thrive in any situation and circumstance. If you are around people who don’t build you up and encourage you to reach for the best for yourself; If someone doesn’t even try to bring out the best in you, get that person out of your life. We weren’t designed to be mediocre, lackluster going through life just existing. I encourage you, find who you are, who you are meant to be. That is your freedom! How free are you? How free do you want to be?
But who am I, right? I’m just someone who learned to find himself under some of the most adverse of circumstances. Overcome perceived learning disabilities, mental, emotional and behavioral issues, and learned to find joy ,peace and freedom deep within myself in extremely difficult, sometimes even dangerous times. That is something they can never take away from me. Pain and adversity is inevitable but we can turn them into blessings, empowering us to laugh at adversity, laugh at the storm, even yell into it ” is that all you got? do your worst!”
So to wrap up… Live life to the fullest of your potential…Be Free…Be You…Be Real….Peace. William.