Tag: scrabble

4 Years After Prison, I Reached a Milestone

Well, y’all, I have officially reached a milestone of sorts. I have now been OUT of trouble… that means living fine, working hard, and loving life in general… longer than I have been IN trouble, as an adult at least. I guess this is sort of a skewed way of looking at it, because I am counting the time since I got locked up, rather than since I got let free. That is because, for me, locking me up is what got me on the right path. So since that day they closed the cell door and I knew I wasn’t coming out for awhile, things turned around.

I guess that can be an encouraging thought for those folks who are just now facing incarceration, or the incarceration of a family member or loved one. As ironic as it may sound, getting locked up can set you free. It’s up to the individual of course. Some guys will use the time to do nothing more than get tattoos, work out, and perfect their scrabble game. All that is fine, too. Nothing like being able to kick some butt in a friendly game of Scrabble. And getting strong and fit are great motivators and you feel good walking out of prison in tip top shape. No doubt. But you have to invest some time on the inner self as well. Read some, think some, make some decisions about what you want from life. Find out who you are. A lot of folks did nothing with their teen and adult years but spend them getting f’d up and in trouble haven’t really thought about themselves until they get into prison.

While I was incarcerated, I read a book by Bo Lazoff named “We are all doing time” and it made the point that monks and other religious folks seek simple surroundings and lack of freedom of choice to do deep meditation and work on themselves. When you go to prison, you basically have some pretty good surroundings to do some deep thinking. Yeah, it can be noisy and dirty and of course violent so it’s not exactly an ashram, but it can serve the purpose.

So I would say to anyone facing imprisonment, if you have no choice and have to get locked up, use the time productively at least. Work on yourself somehow, some way. Learn something, study something, get better at something. You may as well, it will give you that much more of a chance when you see the light at the end of the tunnel when your time served is done. Good luck and peace to all of you. Stay cool. ~ Magnum

“I can” – the strength of those words

Within the last two days, two of my buddies here in the unit got moved. I was really sad to see them go. One in particular had become a really good friend. He was a good dude and I had spent a lot of my days talking and sharing stories and thoughts with him. He was really good at Scrabble! I felt sad for him, as intelligent as he was, he has spent 15 years in prison and was doing another 3 this time. He is the one who described the experience of getting out of prison and wanting to live too much. Like me, he had used heroin and meth. And, previously, getting out had only resulted in him falling back into those old habits again.

It’s funny, because you learn different lessons from the various people you encounter in life. Of course, I had heard the expressions “don’t say you can’t” and “just do it” but I still doubted myself in many areas.

But, after working out with my buddy several times, I started to believe I could do things that previously I had told myself “I can’t.” I would say to him, “dude, I can’t do a handstand” and sure enough, with that attitude, I couldn’t. He encouraged me to believe I COULD do a handstand, to tell myself “I CAN”. After awhile I started to embrace that thinking while we were doing our workouts. Now, I still can’t do a GREAT handstand, but I am doing handstands. I believe I can, I have it in me now, and I am getting there. That is truthfully the only thing that changed in my workout, my attitude went from “can’t” to “CAN”.

To take this in another direction, I have had it in my mind for awhile now that I don’t have to abuse drugs anymore, or live selfishly, and I feel this in my heart. I believe it. I told my buddy in one of our conversations, “You know what, I am not doing it any more. Life is too fragile to die that way.”

The day before he left, I had spent some time talking with him, he was really feeling down. I know why too, I could see it, that same feeling I’ve had when you find yourself in the same damn rut as before, and you wonder if things will ever change.

Well, when I recognized that in his demeanor, I told him, “you know what, it doesn’t have to be this way for us. We just have to stop telling ourselves “can’t”.

I realized right then that has been a lot of my OWN problems in the past. I have made a firm decision now that I am not gonna allow myself to let my life fall apart behind selfish desires. Heroin, meth, all that crap, it isn’t worth it.

My friend thanked me that night for being a positive influence on him. Imagine that – a 39 year old man thanking ME for influencing him. If I can influence him then I can damn well do the same thing for myself.

You know, life is crazy. Sometimes it seems you meet someone for awhile, then they are just gone from your life again. It seems that you are supposed to take that experience and what you learned from it, and share it with another, pass it along. Take the good from anything you can and leave the bad behind.

For many of us who are incarcerated, it’s time to leave our childish ways behind and to become real men. We CAN become men who use our hearts and minds above their fists, and men who act for reasons beyond selfishness. Men who CAN succeed and enjoy living free.

Ha, it’s just like Obama says —  “Yes, we can.”

Peace out ~ Magnum