Finding Meaning

The human race is selfish. We want everything our way and our way only. My cell mate wants to spend all day in the cell, like my cell time means nothing. For you in society, you may think you ‘own’ this parking spot because you fight to always park there. We become so selfish that we forget what human existence is all about. We are here to help each other. Luciano De Crescenzo once put it like this: “We are, each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

You see, somewhere in my pain and anger, I forgot about the next person. My pain and suffering was only there because I was being selfish. I was only looking at my ‘sad life’, but forgetting that I was still alive. I wanted to kill myself like ‘being alive’ was the reason for my pain. The real reason was that I was sick of living the way I was living and that had nothing to do with being alive, it had everything to do with not wanting to change, not wanting to step outside myself and look at new perspectives. For me to find meaning, I had to realize that my life is only a sacrifice for others, meaning, my life is not only about me, there exists an ‘us ‘also. I realized that the reason why we respected Mr. D. so much was because his life is a sacrifice for us prisoners. This was his way of finding meaning in his life.

This made me go back and look deep into my life. I reflected on the fact that I never had a mom because the foster care system took that away from me. I grew up in foster homes and youth placements. My mother had a lot of personal problems and too many kids at the time. My father was strong, but controlled by drugs. I can say that us kids had no family unity or structure, no sense of direction, due to the breakup of our family. All I ever had were a few friends who were in the same situation as me.

My older brother James, was killed in a high-speed chase with the police when he was 19 years old. Our lack of knowledge of the life we were kept from, allowed us to see nothing but the realities we were living. Faced with critical adversity at such a young age structured a mentality that took years to break. A friend of mine once asked me what a criminal mentality looks like. I told him it looks like the child who was forced to survive in the streets due to unfit parents. This child broke the law to maybe eat or put on clean clothes. These actions became patterns to use when things are not going well. The only thing that breaks this pattern is when the child acknowledges that other options exist besides creating a criminal record.

This is where adults come in. Adults can help this broken child to see options and put him or her on the right path. This is where resilience begins. Every child has the ability to grow up physically and mentally. I just had to do it on my own in prison. When I look at my situation, I realize that my development has been constant struggling growth. What gives me the ambition to push forth besides the hope for freedom one day, is to also be a mentor to the young souls who are walking the same road I walked. Do I believe my sentence is unfair? Yes, but I also believe that it gave me the opportunity to find meaning in my life.