This took so long to write because I was having trouble finding a topic to write about. Look, I do not want to discuss the benign. Your time is to valuable and so is mine. Ahhhh, but I have indeed touched upon the exact topic I have been thinking upon, Time.
There is this concept with long stretches of incarceration. You need to do the years without closing your eyes and waiting for the end to arrive. So, what the hell does that even mean?
My first exposure to this concept was offered to me by someone I accidentally met when I was in the first month of my run. His name was Calvin Malone and I met him while at Shelton which is our intake and transfer facility for the state. He was the first authentic Buddhist I had come across and so we had many common things to talk about. His time was short because he was moving from one facility to the next after completing a twenty year sentence. We must have walked six or seven miles cummutively over the course of a few days but so much of what he said and advised still sticks with me. One of those was the concept that as a practicing Buddhist myself, I needed to be fully present now and going forward. He actually said to me “it’s okay to think about the future but do not forget to appreciate what’s happening now”. I heard the words when he said them but it took a few years for them to percolate through and become an integrated part of the process. Now it’s more like a mild nagging whenever I catch my general dissatisfaction with my time, and how long I have left.
Calvin wrote a book while in Prison called Razor Wire Dharma. It is a good example of incidents while inside and how by taking up the practice of Buddhism we can transform ourselves and perhaps others through mindfulness. You can probably find it on Amazon still.
So here is the conundrum, time is different for each of us. When young it can be so slow and when grown, so fast. Einstein believed that time was a fourth dimension of a block universe where the past, present and future existed together and were unchangeable. He posited that my present moment could be another’s future happening simultaneously. Now as a rule I tend to favor the emperical aspects of scientific opinion but as some have begun to comment on Einsteins theory, well, perhaps he might be wrong about time.
For myself I subscribe to the ideals that both the past and present are locked in terms of possible change but Einstein believed that a future also has a predetermined course and I am just not buying that baloney! It is not free will that I defend that upon. I would simply offer that what one person’s future is dependant upon is information. We can only do so much with what we know. So, this is why I always encourage people to pursue their goals, just make sure you have done the research. This includes every facet of a life you can imagine. Love, work, product purchasing, food, exercise name it and you can and should do your homework before you go for it.
As you can see time to me is conceptual going forward. The tricky part is learning how to exist in this moment, wherever that may take place and do all that you can to appreciate it. Sounds simple right? Let’s try this: Your in the car stuck in traffic. Lousy moment right? But if you thougt to yourself, hey! I bet that schmuck who writes that silly blog from prison would rather be here than there right now!
If you thought that (you would be correct by the way.) then you are on the right track because you can then find ways to utilize that time in order to be more beneficial. Whether that benefits you or others is not the point. Perhaps you got to watch birds fly by, or boats on the water. Maybe you got some emails answered or a phone call made while dealing with the tedium of traffic. So far so good?
How that translates for me is finding acute ways to appreciate the moment I am in each passing day, despite the fact that this is exactly like sitting in traffic except all the time. It is not easy and is a discipline one must generate. If you do though there are tremendous rewards. You can see the day go by and be more cognizant of it. For me this is the down side of this exercise. Some days and nights feel super long and I suffer through them. I come back to recognize that although for some guys in here time clicks by faster it never has for me.
This is an aspect of the punishment I did not see coming but over time I have learned to love it. Of course I complained about it at first but the longer something goes on the more closely we can examine that thing and discover its worth.
I still hear Calvin in my head every so often and I really did’nt think I would because I wanted my time to go quicker. Instead it seems like through what he said, my practice in meditation and in many of the things I have read that my time is very relative. I see the passing of a day, each day. I feel the rhythms of the unit as part a natural process and let me tell you it is rarely quick.
This is a surprise to me, I thought things would eventually crank up and fly but whether I was working or studying this time goes by at exactly the pace that it should. Causing me to consider the shaft of light in the window or the distance I am walking outside. All good things and what a unique way to discover them.
Okay, here is my pertinents and such. Thanks for reading.
Ronald May #359444
Stafford Creek Correctional Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen WA. 98520
Big thanks to the people at Stone City for hosting this format.