Journal of a Prisoner
October 27, 1998
I began this day much like I begin every day here in prison. I woke at about 6 a.m. to pill call. I always wake up hearing the guard knock on my neighbor’s door, and I j ump right up and try to get to the door before he knocks on mine. I take my Paxil (20mg, for depression) and I’m up for the day.
I haven’t always been one to get right up out of bed–in prison, or at home–but recently I began practicing Hatha Yoga, Meditation, and Pranayarna (breath control exercises). The yoga exercises are supposed to be done on an empty stomach…
…OK, I got distracted for a moment listening to a conversation between two guys in nearby cells: One guy asked his buddy, “Do you have a TV?” His buddy answered, “No, but I’ve got a TV Guide.” I thought that was pretty funny.
So, I was doing my first exercise in Hatha Yoga this morning–the corpse pose–and I got a little visualization. I imagined I heard God talk to me and tell me to come to his altar and I saw myself at his altar drinking from a cup…and that was that. I didn’t think much of it, but as I continued to relax I thought to myself, “Does God really talk to me?” “Yes, God talks to me.” “Yes, I talk to you all the time,” I heard inside my head. “I have always been talking to you–from the beginning.”
And that made me think. What is a thought? What form does it have? What substance?
What does a thought matter? Image is not everything! Not if you mean, by image, that which one sees, or what is on the outside. In that case image is not everything, nor even close to being everything and in fact is something of an illusion–a trick of light reflecting off of matter–the image is only an impression of the edge or the boundary of that matter and not the whole substance at all. And matter, after all, is fundamentally energy, light. So now, is a thought anything but energy? No. Because if a thought is some chemical or electrochemical action or reaction, what is that but energy?
A thought, an image, or imagination then is energy. And if God is everything, as everything is energy; then image is everything. Image is everything. Image is God. God is image. Energy is God’s image. Sort of a metaphysical equivalent to Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2. Hmmm.
October 28, 1998
Topics for today’s entry: 1) What it means to me to have a dictionary and why it is wrong for a prisoner to be denied a personal dictionary. 2) Silencing the lips for a day–taking a vow of silence and keeping it is not easy. What does it require? How much more difficult is it to quiet the talking in the mind for just five minutes? What does it require to silence the mind? 3) What does it mean to let go? To live in the here and now, with no attachment to the past, the future, life, or material possessions? When this is achieved can anything hurt you? How free from suffering can you become when you have let go and are truly living in the moment? 4) When the mind finally becomes quiet, will God talk?
Silence: Maybe I ought not to have waited until three in the afternoon to write about silence. The tier is much quieter in the morning. Everybody is sleeping. But this isn’t what I want to write about. These things are external and I must journey inward; into my thoughts, my feelings most of all; the inner workings of my soul. This is not going to be easy for me, I can see already. But that is why I must do it. I am afraid to write down my deepest feelings. I am also afraid to admit those feelings to myself. Maybe I am afraid to see the monsters that may be revealed when my thoughts are exposed to the light of day–my true and real thoughts unbidden. Yes, I am even afraid to be honest in my own journal lest it be confiscated by the authorities and used against me at some point in the future.
My fear is justified. Big Brother is watching–it’s not just my paranoia. They have stolen my writings before–suicide letters to nobody–and then had the balls to sit there and read from them out of my file. I haven’t bothered to ask for them back because they are now the property of the state. I wonder–is each page I write just another page added to that file? I am tempted not to write at all–out of self-preservation, or fear, really. But no! I must write! And I must find a way to write truthfully and meaningfully about what matters, regardless of the potential consequences–regardless of my fears. I can not let myself be oppressed. Not when the stakes are this high.
I’m tired of holding it all in. I’m tired of being silent about the things that matter.
So now I guess I can write a little about silence–silence of speech and silence of environment. Auditory silence. Like I said, I can sometimes get some silence in the morning around here–no radios, no TVs, no yelling–everybody is sleeping. This is when I do my yoga–Salute to the Sun, which I’ve only been doing for a few days; and my meditation and pranayama. When it is quiet I can do these things more easily, though my concentration is better now than it has been in the past.
Why would I want to be quiet all day? Why not speak? Because being silent is letting go of attachments, clinging, seeking. I did not start my silence till lunch, even today. And what was it that finally drove me to speak? Something external–some desired thing. I wanted photocopies. I wanted to talk to a Lieutenant. I wanted to talk to the kitchen supervisor about my religious diet. So only by becoming truly detached can one assume a meaningful silence. Or maybe prolonged silence will lead to detachment. One has to let go of trivial external things–let them all go. That is a large obstacle to overcome but I think it must be worth it. There must be some kind of great internal reward when one has truly accomplished detachment from the external, the material, the transient illusion. What is that reward? Is it the annihilation of the self and embracing of the Self? Is it a higher state of consciousness? What?
Try to become a little more detached today. Try to be a little more silent.
OK, now I’ve got this piece of paper in a three-ring binder, which I just purchased from the commissary for $3.03 plus tax. I thought that it might be slightly awkward or uncomfortable writing like this, and it is, but I think I can live with it. I’ll try it out for a few days. Maybe if I don’t write all the way across the page, but only this far (about 2/3 of the way across the page) it won’t be so awkward. In a thousand years it probably won’t matter anyhow so I’ll just do what comes naturally and keep on writing because I’m going to write from now until the day I die–whether that be near or far. I will write while I live and shall only cease when I die.
Speaking of dying…I love life! I don’t want to die. Even though I’ve tried to kill myself so many times, the truth is, I want to live. I love life!
I did the Fierce Breath of Fire in all seven Chakras for the first time today. I started to feel really freaky, but it was great. I think I only did the hard breath for thirty seconds to a minute and held my breath for fifteen to thirty seconds in each Chakra. I am going to work my way up to doing two full minutes in each Chakra, holding my breath for one full minute in between. According Bo Lozoff in We’re All Doing Time, this routine brings about an altered state of consciousness time after time.
Tonight I saw my Wizard. The one that I saw before in that meditative, superconscious state that I experienced on September 3, 1998, over in C-Block (cell 59, IMSI). He was directing the prana into my being–guiding me, encouraging me. I’m starting to think of him as my own personal Guru or Teacher. Even as a Father. Also, maybe he is God. He is real though, I know this–maybe I created him; maybe he is me–maybe he has always been. I don’t know. I do know that he is real. I want him to come and speak to me in my dreams. I am sure that when the time is right he will do that. I have been opening myself up to him more and more, by focusing on Love–trying to let go of hate and fear. It’s not easy to do, but the meditation helps and I think I will go very deep into the meditation and pranayama.
One more thing about the Wizard: He was reciting a spell or incantation in Latin, or if not Latin it was “The Old Language.” I could not understand the words that he was saying, but with my plans to begin studying how to read and write Latin, I soon shall. I feel that by learning Latin I will open up some powerful part of my mind–some ancient power. I need that power. I know that it is within me and I have too long lived powerless. With my meditation practice and learning Latin, I shall “have more power–given by the grace of God, but repressed and oppressed over the years by men who have feared me.” Maybe by my own fear, too. I hope my experience and mistakes make it possible for me to use that power wisely. Or else I may destroy myself.
June 22, 2004
It has been five years and eight months since I made that journal entry. I am still in prison. I have not left prison. I have grown and changed in many ways; have had notable successes and failures; but I am still rotting here in prison. I am, right now, in the process of typing out some journal entries I am hoping to publish. I want to fill in some of the blank spots in the journal that I think are important, but I don’t want to just go back and add things that didn’t exist before, or otherwise compromise the chronological integrity of my journal. So, when I want to do so, I will annotate the journal, but I will record the date on which the new material was actually written. This is kind of a neat idea–like having a conversation with myself and myself-from-a-different-time: literary time travel.
Note 6/22/04: This journal entry was written while I was in solitary confinement, or in prison jargon, Administrative Segregation. I was, at that time, going to court for felony escape charges, and was in AdSeg due to my being perceived as an escape risk. I ended up getting an additional five years in prison for the escape, and I also ended up doing five years straight in solitary. If I seem a little more bitter it’s because I am and that’s why. Truth be told, I did get a short break from my solitary confinement in the end of 2001. I was released from AdSeg and sent to the prison up North. That lasted about a month before I wrecked an entire cell in protest of crappy service and was promptly shipped back South. But aside from that short sojourn I spent half a decade without the slightest human contact. If I ever become a mass murderer you can blame it (in part) on that.
As I was typing out my journal entry from October 27, 1998, I realized that I never completed writing about all the topics I intended to write about that day. I want to do that now.
What does it mean to have a dictionary, and why is it wrong for a prisoner to be denied a personal dictionary:
Back in 1998, when I was in solitary confinement, I was not allowed to have a dictionary. The prison would only allow me to have one religious book, but no other personal books. I was allowed to check out two books from the prison library, but they didn’t have a decent dictionary.
I spent about three to four months with no way to look up words I did not know how to spell or did not understand. I wanted to do some serious studying and writing, but how serious can my studies be when I am unable to use new words or read and understand material with unfamiliar terms?
I was so frustrated by this injustice that I eventually filed a civil rights lawsuit against the prison claiming violation of my First Amendment rights. The rule eventually changed and I was allowed to have two (2) personal books. I chose to purchase the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. I finally received it in February 1999, and have had it ever since. In fact, as I sit here in my plastic chair, with my typewriter set up on the top of my green metal locker, my trusty NSOED sits right here beside me. This dictionary is so important to me that I have hung on to it for over five years. And I know when I walk out the prison gate in 2008 I’ll still have it with me. I’ve possessed and relinquished many material possessions in my life, but there have been very few I have hung on to for as long as I have already hung on to this dictionary. That’s how important it is to me. Maybe I don’t use it every day, or nearly as often as I could, but having it there when I do need it opens up a world of possibilities that would not exist were I without it.
Now, obviously, I’ve got a typewriter too. This is a big deal to me. I like being able to write quickly and neatly. I like being able to draft up professional-looking documents, or write letters that command a little more respect than something written out longhand. I’ve got all the basic tools to do some serious writing; now let’s see what I do with them. I’ve
Yeah, right. I’m already a real writer. At least, as much so as I’ll ever be, whether or not I publish.
Flashback: October 30, 1998
It is easy to believe that all is lost, and that there is no hope for me, and then to throw it all away–burn all of my bridges. The idea is tempting for some reason, but I must resist the belief, the idea, and the action. OK, well maybe I shall not resist it, but rather I shall let it pass unnoticed, not giving it any power over me.
But should I hope? Hope that all is not lost? Should I cling to some vision of a future for myself? No. I can’t do that either. I must let it all go–let it all die. And if it lives of its own accord, then so be it. And if it fades away and disappears–farewell. Farewell. I shall live for today and let tomorrow take care of tomorrow. Because all that I have is today–and Now is Forever anyway. If I can live right now–and just be here now, that is worth a thousand tomorrows. But to do that I need to let go of fear and desire.
These are worthy goals. Let them be my only goals–my only purpose. Live fully in this moment. Let go of hope, fear, desire. Let go of myself, and my future. Experience the Love of Life–the RIGHT-NOW–this very moment.
Easy to say, Grasshopper! Not so easy to do.
Only by living fully in the present moment can I tap into the Wisdom of the Ages–the Power of Truth–the fundamental properties of the universe. Even Physics supports this idea to some extent–that the only thing which is real is the right now. Granted, this moment may be eternal, but I exist right now. I can be God–but only if I let go of the self and merge back into the All. I am a drop of water momentarily suspended above the surface of the Great Ocean that is Existence–capturing a few precious rays of sunlight, reflecting and refracting the Original Light in my own unique and beautiful form.
My life is a projection of light. A movie. When I fall back into the ocean I will be no longer the drop. I will be the Ocean. Thus I am the Ocean, peering back upon itself; momentarily apart, but eternally a part. Let me be filled with Light and love and Truth for as long as I am. Let me just exist.
SATAN SUM ET NIHIL HUNANUM A ME ALIENUM PUTO.
–What the “simple devil” says to Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky
I am shaking right now, and I don’t think this is a good time to write. I just got finished exercising and I’m all amped up. Will come back to this later.
Later: I can’ t decide whether I want to live or die. I pray for God to take my life because I am too much of a coward to take it myself. I am too afraid of the immediate physical pain and suffering involved. I am stuck.
Well, there is no sense in dwelling on it because I am just making my suffering greater by doing so.
Eating my three meals a day plus the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then the apples every day is making me positively fat. I think I gained ten pounds in the last week. All I have been doing until today is sitting or lying around, eating, and reading, and eating some more. Today I finally decided to do some exercises. I think I really need to cut back on the sugar and starch and I would feel much less depressed. I ate a whole bottle of honey in less than twenty-four hours and it seems like I can’t control myself from eating, but that’s a lie. I’ve just got an obsession with food, and maybe an eating disorder, but I’m not out of control. I am eating too much starch though, because that’s all the diet around here consists of–pasta, bread, potatoes.
What I need is more balance. Since I am eating too much, my whole system is thrown out of whack. I need to eat every day–yes–but I need to do other things every day also: Hatha Yoga, meditation, Pranayarna, writing, reading, sleeping, exercise, relaxation, cleaning.
Tomorrow I’ m going to cut back on the starch and increase the exercise. I am going to continue doing my yoga and meditation and I think I need to increase the amount of meditation as well as Pranayama. Less food–more air. Less activity of the mind, more silence and stillness. Tomorrow I will start fresh. I will be silent all day if I can and I will try to make some progress in my meditation. I’ve got to let go of the world and myself, because if I can’t, I’m going to destroy myself . Meditation is the way for me to free myself–and right now that is what I am going to do. Right now! More tomorrow.
October 31, 1998: The Apple
I picked what seemed to me to be, the very best apple of the three. As I was enjoying it–as one can only enjoy a good apple (not the best apple, mind you, of that perfect blend of starch and sweet arid crispiness–the kind that SNAP’s with every bite); not the best apple (I say again) but a good apple, no less, from what I could sense–as I was enjoying this apple, and after much of it was gone, I bit into the core and saw that it was really not so good at all, but had become corrupt!
I stopped what I was doing–that is , I stopped my chewing–and I spit that last bite out. I then began inspecting this darker side (the rotten inside)–to see just what it was, and too my great surprise I found–it was a bunch of fuzz. I broke my moldy apple straight in half and thereupon, or I should say, therein I saw the darkest pentacle I’ve ever seen inside an apple. That little star–the heart of the apple, the place where the bitter seeds grow–was filled with cobwebs and cancer and the seeds were hollow shells of their former selves. What a rotten, evil, and most foul of hearts.
But who am I to judge an apple’s heart? Or the heart of anything for that matter? I thought before that the apple would be, the best apple of the three. So why should I not see if maybe, really, it was the best? Bitter heart and all. And so I ate it! Oh, not all of it–these things take time sometimes–but I swallowed the fungus just now and I guess I’ll find out the truth about this apple’s heart.
Maybe this is the forbidden fruit. I could use a religious experience, like a psychedelic mushroom trip, but different. This would be a journey through the eyes of an apple’s heart. Or maybe I will see what old Adam saw. Or then again, maybe nothing will happen at all.
November 1, 1998
Yesterday I ate five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in addition to my Saturday breakfast and dinner. Over the next week I will eat twenty-five of them. A man could live on that alone but I’ll also enjoy my three meals a day on the weekdays and two on the weekend. Also I will probably eat twenty-five apples, or a combination of apples and oranges as well as whatever conmissary I may buy. I am noticeably gaining weight but I’m also gaining muscle too because I have been doing Hatha Yoga every day. The yoga not only builds up my strength and improves my flexibility but also seems to take away the soreness of working out. It also improves my concentration. I notice that when I’m reading.
Right now I’m reading History of the World by J. M. Roberts and am enjoying it. I used to dislike history and found it boring, but not any more. I find it fascinating. Right now I’m reading about Rome around the first century B.C. I can hardly wait to get into my Latin studies. I am going to master that language. Maybe I will learn Greek too. No matter what I do over the next two years I will be learning to read and write in Latin.
I need to come to terms with whatever my reality may be over the next five to ten years. A lot of of it may not be in my control and it may not be entirely pleasant, but what I can control I must decide to make good. Like the parable in The Immortal by J. J. Dewey–if I wind up in hell I can either accept it as hell, feeling powerless to change it, or I can turn it into a Heaven and know that I was a part of the process of turning Hell into Heaven. That is how I must live my life no matter whether I am in prison or on the street.
Frankly, right now I feel like I am better off right here in prison. I know that right now I am exactly where I need to be. I want to live, believing that every moment. I can change the bad into good. I can face my deepest fears and I can find a way to live in Truth and live by the Highest Way I know.
These are not original ideas. But they are the only ideas that can truly lead me to happiness. I know this and I have to constantly work to obtain a higher level of perfection in everything that I do. That is the path to happiness. That is the path to Heaven.
Happiness has nothing to do with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (unless you’re a starving child somewhere in India, with a big distended belly). But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy one once in a while–or twenty-five for that matter. Well, back to Rome now!
November 2, 1998
I just got done doing some abdominal exercises. I was looking at my waist and decided that it was becoming unsightly. I have been doing Hatha Yoga every morning now for about a week or two and it is coming along well. I enjoy it and am seeing some improvement in my balance and concentration. I will continue this routine for the rest of the month of November.
I need to work on my pranayama and meditation practice. I am not doing as well in either one of these areas and I think it has to due to my lack of specific daily goals in these areas.
So, here’s my solution: I am going write down specifically what activities I am going to practice, and the times I am going to practice them every day. In addition to my yoga routine I will practice a pranayama routine and a meditation routine daily, as well as physical exercises and a calisthenics routine. I will do push-ups and dips and legs every other day and a certain number of abdominals and cardiovascular every day. I will figure out the details of this and journal it.
I also wanted to write about my meditation and the problem I seem to be having with it. The main problem is that nothing is happening. The other problem is that I can’t figure out how to sit. My legs always fall asleep and I get distracted.
Regarding the fact that nothing is happening in my meditation: I think that I’ll just have to get used to it. I need to learn to shut my thoughts off and to control them, rather than letting them run wild. Meditation is the only way to learn how to meditate and to improve the skill, so I must discipline myself to longer periods of meditation and must focus on keeping my mind quiet. I know from past experience that I can reach a state of transcendence–as has happened before, spontaneously. But only after I learn how to quiet the mind.
I am not my body or my thoughts or my emotions–I am something higher. I am the one who chooses–I am the force that controls the action of my body, mind, and emotions, but I must learn through practice, application, and meditation, how to do this.
Last night someone got hurt badly over on C-block. I hear they found him beat down, in his cell. I heard the Code Blue and then, looking out my window I saw the white Dodge prison patrol truck speed out the driveway, his blue and yellow flashers on, and zip up to Pleasant Valley Road. I figured he drove out there to escort in an ambulance. About five minutes later this was confirmed. An ambulance came speeding south on Pleasant Valley and then, with the prison escort leading the way and both lights flashing, the ambulance drove up the main prison road and into the prison. Many of the guys on the unit became excited at the sight of all the colorful flashing lights.
Well, I think I know who the guy was that got hurt. I bet it was D–, the guy I was on C-1 with back in September. I heard that some guy called C– was the one who beat D– up before, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again. I’ll find out the details later.
What I wanted to write about all this violence is that it scares me. I have had my share of violence and fear in this institution and I think it is wrong. I don’t think I should have to be subject to it and I’m going to do what I can to be sure something similar does not happen to me. That was why I escaped and I’m not going to change now. I am committed to avoiding violence–whatever the cost. That cost may be very high because this is a violent part of a violent world and in my desire for non-violence I am probably a minority. I don’t like violence and I don’t resort to it, except under exceptional circumstances. I certainly will not submit to violence. But there are many twisted people in here who derive a sadistic pleasure
from inflicting harm on others. Maybe I will go into protective custody. I have to weigh my options but whatever I choose I will go with it wholeheartedly and I will know that I am right and that God is with me.
Note: Twenty-four hours after writing the above I re-read it and got scared that I had written it down. Typical . But I’m not going to take it back and I’m not going to stop writing. I’m not going to let fear control me. Love and Creativity are Real. Fear and destruction are not.
Reading & Study
Reading & Study
Pranayama (Fire Breath)
Reading & Study
Hatha Yoga (II)
Go to Sleep (in corpose pose)
come, come, whoever you are,
wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving;
come, ours is not a caravan of despair.
though you’ve broken your vow a thousand times,
come, come again.
November 3, 1998
I have been reading about relativity, quantum mechanics, and the quest for the one “theory of everything” to explain the universe. I have always found this subject fascinating despite my lack of mathematical understanding. I am mainly a visual and conceptual thinker rather than an analytical thinker. I was amazed and delighted to find that Einstein had been this type of thinker also. I have wanted to understand advanced mathematics for a long time but have been discouraged by my belief that I couldn’t learn it. But I think I can if I take a visual approach. I reall want to be able to understand physics in mathematical terms.
I have been thinking about an idea regarding how flashes of creativity and insight come to people. Is the creative process something entirely from within the human mind, or is it part of some larger process outside of, but not entirely separate from the mind? If creative thoughts and ideas are derived from some universal source and absorbed by the human mind–taking form there in an image or a phrase or a plan of action–how are these creative impulses transmitted? Does the source permeate all matter down to the most fundamental level–some level beyond our ability to observe? Does it exist throughout space-time itself–a force like gravity? Or does this creative energy come from some point-source like light shining forth from a star?
Could sunlight itself carry the message of creativity to the human mind the way it carries energy for photosynthesis to a plant? Doesn’t it make sense that since light is the source of all life, that it might also be the source of all creation? Does the nuclear process which creates light also cause the organization of chemicals into proteins, and proteins into more complex chemical and biological forms? Does it organize and restructure the genetic code of life? And didn’t it somehow organize the energies of a mind to form a concept like a mathematical equation or a piece of music or a complex geometric object? I will explore this idea further in my meditations and writings.
August 13, 2003
If I’ve accomplished anything in the last five years it must be something internal and intangible, as I am still here in this cell, still struggling, still looking for answers.
Or maybe not. On second thought I am certain I have changed both inside and out, and almost completely for the better. They say every cell in our body is replaced about every ten years, so I guess I’m half the man I used to be.
Looking back through my journal from 1998 I see quite a different person. And yet the same. My goodness, my gracious, my God! Why was I cursed with this unrelenting drive to ask the Big Questions? I’m not a philosopher. I feel like I’m a snail blindly sliming my way across a landscape of infinite crabgrass–going nowhere, one blade at a time. Or rather, I should say, I used to feel that way. Now it’s a little different. I still feel like a snail tossed upon some suburban joker’s lawn, but I understand there’s nowhere to go. Nowhere to go. Nothing to change or be changed.
And yet I still go. Back in April, there for a few weeks…and in early May, I felt like I had broken through to Samadhi or Nirvana or Enlightenment. I had finally surrendered to my deeper Self–to my little dreamer–and felt as though I could do anything. I’ m not going to try to explain it because I did try already and it went away.
I’ve always known (without knowing) the nature of Truth. That it can only be experienced, not articulated. At least not in words. It is essentially a secret. Not because it is fragile, or sacred, or powerful, or even dangerous–though all these things it is–but simply because it is the Truth and can not be boxed in by words, fancy sentences, prosy or poetic paragraphs, or endless piles of dusty books. And yet it can be symbolized and expressed. In fact, once you experience it (at least it worked this way for me) you can see that it is written everywhere. On everything. In everything. Right here. Now, yesterday, tomorrow and forever.
It’s sad–tragic–not to be able to express this Truth to others. For me at least, as a writer and artist. I want to tell everyone–let them all see.
But then I think, as hard as my journey has been, it has still been mine. To have the answer without understanding it’s worth and value, or the meaning of the question (were that even possible) would be quite pointless. The struggle has made the answer mean something.
Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. –Andre Gide
I’d like to say something profound. But I can’t. To speak the Truth–the one with the big T–is to give voice to the ramblings of a maniac. Nothing more.
Yes, I will write. I will write till the day I die. Yes, I will speak, be there ear to hear me or not. But I can see a vision of something greater. The other side is very close. The eternal. The divine. The transcendent. And though there is a wall that keeps me here in the mundane world, that wall also has doors–doors through which I am learning to pass.
My heart tells me to open those doors and let the warmth and laughter of that world spill over into this. My heart tells me that music and image are the language I must use. I can see it all so clearly now. The power is awsome. The ecstasy. The radiance. It is a movie playing in my mind’s eye and a soundtrack in my heart. My heart says, “Follow me!”
Who am I to argue with my Heart.
July 25, 2004
It is a miserably hot and sticky day. This cell is too small for two people. I get to spend twenty hours a day stuck in this cell with another guy. But I guess it’s better than solitary confinement. At least here I can have my typewriter, and a few other luxuries I don’t have if
I were still in AdSeg. And I’ve only got 1,380 days left in prison. Then I’m out. One-thousand three-hundred eighty days…less than four years. I can do that standing on my head. After all, I did five in the dungeon.
August 3, 2004
What would I see if I could look into my own future? Five, ten, fifteen years from now? I’m not sure most people look that far down the road, either to plan or to predict. But I have. In fact, I’ve invested an extraordinary amount of time and energy into the process.
I do not like to “predict,” per se, so I don’t. Based on my troubled past I have difficulty predicting anything but more hardship, struggle, and failure. After all, who ever really changes?
So, instead of predicting, I choose to plan; or, if you will, to dream. I. am not a pessimist at all. I am an optimist. I have a certain amount of confidence in my potential, though that confidence is tempered–maybe even nullified by the self-doubt and insecurity that are the legacy of my repeated and catastrophic failures. But there is something I feel inside that is even more powerful than either my confidence or my self-doubt. I intuitively feel that I have a purpose and a destiny in life that I will fulfill despite my personal weaknesses and failures.
Moreover, I have a concrete, detailed, and powerful vision of my future and my destiny, that I know will be realized if I can maintain my course and keep to my path. I call this vision my Big Dream.
This is difficult to write about, because it is something of a paradox. To realize my Big Dream I must see it and believe in it, even though it does not yet exist. Simply said, I must have faith where there is no just cause for faith. I must have hope, and optimism, where logic and rationality say none should be. I must believe in the impossible.
What is this Big Dream of mine? Do I dare share it with you? You might laugh and think me a fool and tell me what I already know–that it is impossible, unreasonable, absurd, ridiculous. Well, the truth is…I am a fool. I know this. It is what makes it possible for me to believe in the impossible so strongly that I can bring it to reality. So what will it hurt to tell you? Your ridicule will not be the first or last resistance I have encountered or will encounter.
And I have many words from wise, accomplished men and women of the past with which to counter such negativity. Why don’t I present them now, before you even raise your objections, which you would later have to commit to and defend. I’ll be doing us both a favor.
Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself. –Franklin D. Rosevelt
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. –Albert Einstein
Every human mind is a great slumbering power until awakened by a keen desire and by definite resolution to do. –Edgar F. Roberts
There is only one admirable form of the imagination: the imagination that is so intense that it creates a new reality, that it makes things happen, whether it be a political thing, or a social thing or a work of art. –Sean O’Faolain
No man that does not see visions will ever realize any high hope or undertake any high enterprise. –Woodrow Wilson
This then is my Big Dream: I dream that there can be a place in this world for dreamers and misfits. A place where lost souls can gather to find solace and comfort, acceptance and love, companionship and cooperation. Here they will commune in order to look within themselves to find answers to the question, “What is my purpose and path in this life?” And when they have answered that question they will ask others: What am I capable of? What do I want? What will make me happy? What do I have to offer? How can I make the world a better place? How can I experience more love, more laughter, more satisfaction? How can I ease the suffering of others, and why would I want to? How can I transcend my limitations or increase my understanding? What is really important to me and how do I realize it in my life?
Here they will learn as well as teach the invaluable lesson that they truly have the power to shape their reality and create the future they want for themselves. That if they will only BELIEVE in, and SEE that which they desire, they can make it REAL.
Here they will work on their Art, their Music, their Dance, their Story, their own Big Dreams and Visions. They will have a place that provides them with a community of close and trusted friends, but also the solitude, freedom, and acceptance that are necessary for them to be themselves. They may even find themselves, or parts of themselves they would not have found had they not been given the opportunity to explore and experiment without fearing censure or rejection. And through this process they may learn how to love others without having to possess them or control them or tell them who to be or how to act or think. They might discover the joy and power of true unconditional love.
Here they will be able to make a living–not just survive, but prosper–while doing something they enjoy, and are good at, and can be proud of. Whatever gifts they have, they can offer up to their community and family who in turn will help complement those gifts and compensate for whatever weaknesses they are bound, as humans, to have.
Here they will live the truth that sex and sensuality and physical affection and carnal love are a beautiful, wonderful, necessary part of being human, and nothing to fear or hide or be ashamed of. Here there will be no things called sin or lust or perversion. Here there will only be Love in its many shapes and forms–and time enough to explore them all.
Here will be a Temple of the Eternal Groove. Here will be an Ashram and a Farm and a Center for the Healing Arts. Here will be Orchards and Woods and People Tending the Earth. Here will be Abundance and Opportunity and Possibility. Here will be Soft Falling Water and Pasture and the Laughter of Playing Children. Here will be Celebration and Hope and Thanksgiving.
Here will be Proof that a better world is possible.
Here will be…Utopia.
If only such a place had existed when I was growing up. I think I wouldn’t have had to spend fourteen years in prison. I think I wouldn’t have had to spend so many of my childhood nights crying myself to sleep, not really understanding the how or why, but knowing that something was not right, and that I was missing something which would have been very good to have.
I think I would have not spent seven years of my early childhood and my adolescence in mental hospitals, strapped to beds or lying in cold empty cells. I think I would not have been a drug addict or a thief.
I think I would not have had to spend five straight years in the dungeon; five years without any human contact.
But then I think–if all those things had not been, then I would not be who I am. And if I had not been purified in the crucible of my torment and anguish and suffering, I might not know how important it is to have compassion, and how very special the little things are.
If I had not gone so long without the touch of a woman, without the slightest sensation of warmth or affection or love, then I might not fully appreciate these thing when I finally do find them again.
And if my path had not been exactly what it has, with all its twists and turns and torments, I might not have so desperately fought to find something to fill the emptiness, to find some answers, to find out what was really important to me–what matters more than anything: thr Big Dream.
I have accepted my fate. I have surrendered to it. I have heard my calling and have answered it with a promise to act. The pain, the struggle, the suffering, they are part of the journey. They are essential to what I shall create. They are the paints with which I will color my vision and my dream. They are the experiences that were necessary for me to have in order to empathize with others so that I could sacrifice some of myself in order to appease the Gods, harness the Power, and make the Dream real.
This is the end, for now. But rest assured: You will hear from me again. I can see our destinies converging somewhere in the future. If you look hard enough I know you can see them too.