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  • Anwar

Pathway To a Better Future

An acquaintance of mine lent me her brain the other day. She lends it to me from time to time so that I can think from a woman's perspective. And you know what happens when a guy like me has that kind of power in his hands, the days that follow allows him to acquire even more insights into how stupid he's being. So after a little course correction, I returned the brain that was on loan and came away better for it.

As I draw closer to my third parole hearing, my thoughts turn more and more to how far I have come. Before I went and grew up, if someone had told me that I would voluntarily place myself into a cell for imprisonment for nearly three decades I would have believed them crazy. When I mean voluntarily, I don't want you to picture me scaling the prison walls because I thought the guys were having so much fun in there that I just had to have some of it too. When I say voluntarily, look at it this way, prison became the natural and logical consequence of my bad behavior and associations. I eventually accepted those consequences and above all else, I approved of them. That might sound a little too rational coming from me.

It goes without saying that I will never glorify long-term imprisonment and I do think the parole board is broken, which too often holds people long past their expiration date as punishment. But I will acknowledge that the time lived away from sunlight if one took the time to find out how to live right, can be an eye-opening experience.

Self-pity has no place in my world but I am not immune to the awful feelings prison produces. Worst than indigestion on mash potato day. For me, it is the soul-sucking redundancy of an arrested life that forms the harshest part of prison and not the grey bars, unbreakable walls, vicious guards, violent prisoners, vile tasting food, concrete beds . . . which otherwise would make it a wonderful place to have a staycation. You can learn things and experience things up to a limit but decades worth of the same experience had over and over hardly amounts to the formative years a normal person might get in the world to become a productive adult male. I've done the best I could with the low hanging fruit at hand, though, and sometimes the juice proved worth the squeeze.

For instance, in addition to one very hard-headed little boy, three nappy-headed men bearing my name and renting space in this puny body have passed away in that time. As with all people on this great journey (inside these walls and out), I begin to kill off the parts of myself that didn't fit in and keep alive those that did, begin to formulate an attitude towards the uses to which my life should be put aside from guzzling down a Pepsi every chance I got. Found some kind of time-consuming activity that would give me meaning, a purpose that would sustain me from my youth into my geezerhood. Most of all something that would keep me from swan diving headfirst into the toilet bowl while giving me the performance-enhancing oomph to grow as a mighty human being.

A wise young onion who I call Teacher once shared with us, her freedom-impaired students, why she had become a writer. She was on the cusp of entering into a lucrative career as a professional liar, I mean lawyer when she decided to tread an uncertain path. Perhaps I can go so far as to describe it as an insane path. Why would she do such a thing? I remember someone whisper yelling in my ear. And I answered, if she found more joy and purpose in being an artist, why would she do anything else? Why should she be anything else?

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