My biggest, and just about my only fear, in prison is something that nearly all inmates dread – though in different ways. Some of us fear losing a place in the hearts of our loved ones, some fear falling too far behind a rapidly changing world, for others it’s missing out on opportunities and prime years of our lives. At the root of all these concerns, however, is the issue that scares me the most: wasting time.
Every hour in prison is a struggle to hold onto or reclaim my life. So many of the decisions I make here, and virtually all of those regarding how I schedule my day are guided by my constant urge to make the most of this abundant free time.
I’m terrified of getting out and not being able to acheive my goals because I lack some qualification which I had years to acquire. I’ve literally shivered with disgust thinking about this.
Unfortunately, prison is overcrowded with potential excuses for procrastinating and quitting. The majority of us aren’t doing anything substantial for our future; we all have dreams, but food, poker, TV and sleep tend to get in the way. And despite the panic I feel towards failure, I fall into this swamp of stagnance too often. It’s hard to always stay above a toxic environment.
Of course, society is just as (if not more) packed with temptations to “do it tomorrow” or “forget about it”. But in the free world, our laziness is much more likely to result in an enriching or memorable experience. For example: Spending time with loves ones – especially our kids; going to the beach or park; listening to our favorite music uninterrupted; fishing or hunting; playing any sport with calm people who know the game; cooking or eating whatever we want; hitting a party or a club; having sex; being completely alone; watching any movie any time; or even playing a good video game. While our options in prison involve either activities we’d hardly, if ever, do or being with people we’d hardly, if ever, hang out with on the streets.
There are a number of constructive things inmates can do while we await our release. But the chances that we will experience hours, weeks, and months that bring us virtually no benefit or satisfaction increase greatly when we’re locked up.
I’ve learned a lot during my incarceration – invaluable lessons that I doubt I’d have accepted if I’d never been convicted. However, my best day in prison is still torture compared to my worst week of freedom.
TIP: Check out www.exoffenderreentry.com – It offers resources for and information on finding jobs, education, treatment (for addictions or behavior), veteran’s assistance, etc.