Monday, November 14, 2011


I recently came upon a journal essay I wrote in 1998 while I was an inmate at FCI Tucson. It was about the uncertainty of not knowing what is coming in the future. I wrote:

"Perhaps it is an illusion to ever think that we know what is coming up in our lives, but there is solace and comfort in thinking we know what the next year holds for us. In most lives it is not unreasonable to suppose that life will go on pretty much as it has, or that some short-term goal we are aiming toward will be fulfilled. But here I sit in federal prison on this Arizona summer day that is bound to reach over a hundred degrees, and I just don't have a clue. That is disquieting and forms a small undercurrent of discomposure over my normally placid persona."

At that time, I had no idea whether I would win my appeal and be able to avoid a twelve year prison term and had not really come to terms with the possibility of losing the appeal, which I subsequently did. As a learning experience, an adventure in personal growth, however, that uncertain few months was extremely valuable. It taught me the necessity of going within to create a stable internal consciousness no matter what was going on outside myself. I had no control over the external, but could determine my immediate experience in real time:

"At this juncture, it seems to be that the most effective way I can prepare for any possibilities is to keep on writing, keep on walking, keep on focusing on staying calm and centered and productive."

We hear a lot nowadays about businesses worrying about economic uncertainty to the extent of hoarding cash that otherwise could be invested in job-creating activities. It is always a myth to think we know what the future holds, so we may as well act as a current event based on current reality. The inner strength I build in that period of what could have been a fear-ridden, anxiety-producing time for me allowed me to triumph over my incarceration, emerging on the other end with more creative energy, optimism, and inner peace than I had going in. This wasn't brilliant or heroic on my part, just the most sensible path to take considering my realistic options. I ended my short essay by writing:

"I will accept that there are going to be moments of fear and sadness, but this will be the ultimate test of my ability to create my own internal environment despite whatever is going on around me."

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