There are things in my life, which at the time struck me as a nuisance or annoyance, but in hindsight, cause me a great deal of joy and laughter.
Like this morning, for example. I usually wake up at six thirty and take our dog out to do her thing, but on Sunday I like to sleep in for an extra hour to catch up on lost sleep. My cell partner took care of the dog this morning, and just as soon as he brought her back into the cell and pulled her harness off, she sprinted to my bunk and planted all four feet on my chest. Startled, I sat straight up out of a dead sleep, thumping my head on the upper bunk and shouting in a frightened and defensive voice “what the hell is going on in here!”
I managed to escape without any lasting physical or psychological damage…except maybe to my pride.
And looking back at it now my celly and I can’t help but laugh at the whole thing.
It just goes to show that the little things that seem to bother us at the moment are just that–“little things”. As the saying goes, don’t sweat the little things, because in time they will be the very things that make you laugh.
Laughing at my pain.
It’s funny how quick we are to laugh at other people’s pain, but you have to admit that it’s always funny…that is, until it happens to you.
For example, my celly has long hair and one of his methods for drying it while he’s drying off from the shower is to whip it forward at a high rate of speed which, I gues forces the water out. This particular time he had his eyes closed and at the very moment that his head whipped forward he smashed it into the stainless steel shower plumbing casing, which not only hurt like hell, but scared the daylights out of him. Ha ha… I could not contain my immediate response, which was to bust up in a healthy belly laugh. There’s no way to explain my response but I’m certain that most people would have reacted in like manner.
However, I can remember several years back catching a softball with my left eyeball, and I seemed to be the only one not laughing at that moment. Yes, there were some to show concern and make sure that I was going to live, but I’m certain that even they got at least a chuckle out before rushing to my aid.
To laugh at the pain of other seems to me a human response. I’d imagine it’s as unexplainable as laughing at a fart joke…it’s just funny, we don’t know why, it just is.
Another year brings new ideas and opportunities to an open minded person. To me another year brings an annual review where a group of counselors and a unit supervisor decide my fate for the next year. The hallmark statement that is always made is “maintain & retain”. They always encourage me to maintain my programming, stay out of trouble and continue to be a “good inmate”. Also, to retain my current custody and living arrangement at the facility. However, “maintain & retain” does not define me as a person. I choose not to live my life like that.
My motto for this year will not be “maintain retain”, but “excel and advance”. I will choose to excel at everything I set my hand to, and to continually advance toword my goals–achieving them one at a time and daily triuphing over incarceration. I do not see myself as an offender, but a “justice involved citizen” who will be returning to society after paying all debts owed.
Excel and advace! You’re worth it too.
Yesterday I graduated from a 14 week class called Bridges to Life.
What is Bridges to Life?
It’s a class that’s stated purpose is to restore peace in the lifes of both crime victims and convicted criminals. It deals with responsibility, repentance, accountability, confession, reconciliation and restitution.
For many years I thought that I had made myself fully accountable to “all” of the people that I hurt by committing my crime shooting a man 13 years ago. I was wrong. Bridges to Life has opened my eyes every ripple that my splash has made, and allowed me to fully confess, accept responsibility and now make efforts to reconcile with those I’ve hurt and begin the restitution process.
Now, as a graduate, I have chosen to continue in the program as an assistant helping other men open their eyes and change before they return to their communities. This is my way of paying restitution for my crime. I am no longer a person who “takes” from the community, but one who takes action to make meaningful contributions to better it.
Still earning my freedom
Up in the morning, early as usual, and out to let my pup (Maddie) out to use the bathroom. All of the sleepiness left me as I felt the freezing november rain on my head. I love the crisp air and the northwest rain, even at 6:30 in the morning. Tody is a good day. I woke to experience the enlightenment that the sun brings with every new journey across the sky, the breath of life that filled my lungs, to experience the unconditional love of a beautiful family…and the love of this flea bit rascal that depends on me. God is good, and to live is to give thanks.
Today I had the priviledge of being the table topics master at this weeks Toasmasters International meeting. We are a small group here at MCC-TRU called Twin Speaks. What’s amazing about our club is that participants help pay the $100. annual fee per member through donating their artwork and by making monthly donatios from their very modest $55. a month paychecks.
The the theme for today’s meeting was making a difference. We had members talk about defferent organizations who help inmates and reduce recidivism. The most important thing that returning citizens want is for society to make room for them. It seems like there just isn’t a place for men and women to “fit in” and reintegrate smoothly back into society. The IF project was one mentioned. Another is “adoptaninmate.org”. One is geared towards helping youth make better decisions and turn their lives around before they ever reach the adult prison system. The other is geared towards giving returning citizens a chance to earn freedom, prove that change is possible, and make a difference in their life, the lives of their families, and in society as a whole.
Overall, the meeting was about having a benevolent heart and thinking of others as they can be and not as they are.
Fall is back, and I’m reminded that it’s one of my four favorite seasons. I really do love them all. Seasons bring change and the constant birth, death and rebirth of life and ways of life.
The winds blow their gentle orchestra through the fall leaves and I’m reminded by nature the true art and beauty of gentle speech. You can learn how to truly fall gracefully from watching the leaves travel their paths down to the final leg of their journey.
Embracing the winds of change.