What I "want" is for the new ReEntry Center that we cleaned out, set up, and are now waiting to move into to be approved. The official designation of that space, specifically for reentry programming, signals a long term commitment that extends well beyond the tenure of this administration. It also validates the time and effort I have personally invested into a number of specific programs/projects. Until the ReEntry Center actually opens many of my fellow inmates, and most of the staff, will remain skeptical about the longevity of these reentry initiatives and therefore reluctant to fully commit themselves to anything we're working on.
It probably would have been more sensible for me to try and transfer to another institution closer to either my girlfriend or family since neither resides within a few hundred miles of this facility but, being the eternal optimist that I am, I gambled on my vision of what I believe this place could become once the ReEntry Center opens. I SEE the potential and am compelled to make that vision become a reality in spite of whatever sacrifices I must make or hardships I must endure in the meantime. I'm confident that, in the end, it will all be well worth it...because in my vision the future looks incredibly positive and productive.
"What does what you want feel like?"
What I want just feels "good." In my vision there is ample personal space and and a total absence of hostility or negativity. It FEELS incredibly peaceful and therefore conducive to a positive exchange of thoughts and actions amongst all those who are present. There is also a great sense of accomplishment and progress that I derive from the realization of that vision. It feels like a "sacred space" (life coaching term) where even greater visions can be birthed and possibilities explored. It just feels "good."
Taking the next step means growing and expanding the HOPE Program. I wholeheartedly believe that inmate mentoring/coaching is the means to create a paradigm shift inside every prison. Men who are serving lengthy sentences, quite often "life" sentences, seem to share a deep desire to positively contribute to the prison communities in which they live. The HOPE Program seeks to capitalize on those altruistic intentions by training these men as "life coaches" who will then guide and positively influence the younger men that are more susceptible to negative influences.
Most of us who are serving lengthy sentences inevitably begin to feel much more connected to the prison community within each facility over time. There's a certain sense of shared responsibility amongst us to help positively shape these communities and create an environment that is most conducive to everyone's personal growth and development. The HOPE Program gives us an opportunity to provide that positive influence while working with the younger men who are just coming into the system. By helping them we are also able to help ourselves.
"What about this is important to you?"
I'm adamant about trying to make amends for my wrongs whenever possible. I'd like to believe that someday I might finally tip the Karmic scale back in my favor, after doing enough good to counterbalance all the harm I previously caused. Unfortunately, due to my confinement, my family members and loved ones are harmed as well. Until this is over for me, they too will continue to suffer on account of my past . Although they shouldn't have to suffer for my mistakes it is a choice they willfully make each day by continuing to support and stand by me. I'm grateful for their love and support and feel the weight of my responsibility to do right by them. The good that I am able to achieve each day is merely a reflection of the love they have shown me...and there is nothing more important to me than that.
"What did you learn?"
I have learned that I still occasionally underestimate my own knowledge and/or abilities in certain circumstances. When I reflect upon recent events and conversations from the past couple of weeks I can recall things that were told to me that I did not question. I simply accepted that person as an absolute authority on the matter and did not challenge the veracity of his statements. In reality, he is in fact no greater authority on the matter than I. What this situation caused me to realize is that although prison shackles may not be secured to my wrists and ankles at this very moment there remain illusionary chains still wrapped around my mind. Obviously, this is something that I need to work on because inevitably the time will arrive for me to walk out that door, and I need to leave ALL of those shackles behind.
There is always gratitude to be grateful for..and I cannot understand why so many people seem to lack it in their lives these days. Without it, how can anyone claim to know happiness? When I look around each day I see little gratitude or happiness in the actions or apparent on the faces of the men and women around me, save a few. Most are undisputedly cynical and spiteful, but I keep hoping that eventually they'll come around. By watching them I realize how truly fortunate I am.
I am Happy.
I am Healthy.
I am Loved.
Part of me feels slightly guilty about the happiness I've found within these confines because there are so many people out there who are unmistakably miserable in their lives. Here I am, in prison, doing good and feeling good when the perception is that I should be the one who is unhappy. Thankfully, there are some people who look at me and find inspiration in what I've accomplished. I only wish that my lesson in gratitude didn't have to come at such a high cost. The people that love and support me definitely didn't deserve everything they had to endure that lead up to this point either. As long as I remain grateful for the present, which is a GIFT (hence the term present), the past will have minimal impact on the love that I freely give and receive to all those who chose to be a part of my life. What else could I possibly wish for under these circumstances???