I was talking to my brother the other day. He is currently serving 20 years to life in Solano State Prison. While he has held his head up for every phone call, I could sense despair in his voice on this particular one. “What’s wrong John?” I asked. “You seem to be kinda down today! This isn’t like you at ALL.”
“Well, I was just thinking today about how much time I have spent here. My best years have been wasted and it has made me quite depressed. I came in at 25 and I am now 46. That’s 21 years down, Linda!! How do you expect me to keep my head up indefinitely? I was sentenced 20 years to LIFE. So technically I could be in this shithole for the rest of my life!” he said.
I thought about that for a moment. While I understood his pain, I also understand the power of the mind. Even a mind that has been imprisoned is still powerful! I needed him to understand that even though physically he was in bondage, his mind could still be free.
I told my brother “freedom is your passport to possibilities! Mental freedom. They may have you locked up, but you still have control over your mind. That’s one thing that they can’t take from you. You can GIVE it to them if you choose, but remember IT IS A CHOICE! As long as you remain in control of your mind, you remain in control of your possibilities!!”
He said, “You are so right Linda. It just gets hard sometimes. I get afraid too. I wonder what it’s really gonna be like when I get out. What kind of a job will I get? Let’s face it Linda. It is tough enough for a Black man who does all the right things. Let alone one who has been incarcerated over 20 years.”
I thought about that. How do long term prisoners get back into society? I said, “John, I am sure there are programs set up for your transition. And I am also sure that you are more than capable to adjust when you get out. Besides, you have me and the rest of the family to help you!”
That seemed to lighten his spirits. I could tell that he was getting back to his happy place. I reminded him that GOD doesn’t put more on us than we can bear. I shared with him that great things have come from tremendous suffering. Nelson Mandela was able to lead the world’s largest forgiveness movement and become President of South Africa after being imprisoned for 27 years because his mind was free! He was able to create his own paradise within his teeny weeny jail cell.
And that’s what we all need to do. Keep in mind that we hold the key to our freedom and our possibilities. All we have to do is USE it!!!