Mind Over Matter

I recently had a single cell for about a week and a half (because I do my time mostly through thought and study, single cells are the ultimate luxury I’ve known in prison). I could have chosen my next cellmate, but none of the available options were worth wasting a favor from staff. Instead I chose to play the celly lottery…..and lost.

But maybe not.

Me and this cat that just moved in recently knew each other. Because I’d looked out for him a few times in the past and I can play basketball, he had a favorable opinion of me. However, the feeling wasn’t mutual. He’d just gotten jumped a few weeks earlier for running his mouth and I knew well that he was a panhandler – or “hustler” as he calls it. Then, after barely a day, I discovered he’s a top flight space invader – air space (talks just for the sake of killing silence and frequently raps to me as if I know Jay-Z); personal space (“hey cuz, mind if I sit [next to you] on your bed?”); and physical space (taps me when he talks and often tries to get me to do gang handshakes with him). Yet this might all be a good thing.

I’ve successfully exterminated the overwhelming bulk of my old, problematic mentality and behaviors, but I still struggle with reacting well to provocation. I simply find it very hard to remain calm and think of the best response when someone does or says some antagonistic crap to me, which guys usually do in here and often on purpose. Living with this bozo can push me to improve how I handle these instances.

“Bad fortune is what good fortune hides in.” Throughout my bit I’ve benefited significantly whenever I’ve allowed this universal truth to guide me. So much in life comes down to our perception rather than the circumstances that surround us. I’m willing to bet almost everyone can think back to some or even several great experiences that came out of situations we originally viewed as bad luck, tragedy, etc. But every time unwanted circumstances return, as they always do and forever will, we ignore our own history; great things, in fact, may actually be what’s in front of us.

Ever since I perceived the opportunity I had in front of me with my nerve-wracking celly I’ve been amazingly calmer around his mess, more mentally balanced coming and going from his presence. It’s like I’d been stumbling around a pitch dark room banging my knees on furniture and suddenly realized, “hey stupid, just turn the damn light on.”

Although the ideal is to live and enjoy every moment, sometimes reality isn’t worth enjoying. But this doesn’t mean it has no worth. At these times it’s best to focus on the horizon and build towards better days. Otherwise, hardship will swallow us section (gulp) by section (gulp) by section (gulp) like a python. If we keep our eyes open for opportunities and don’t get sidetracked by disappointment and frustration, reality will eventually improve and the moment will reign supreme.

But remember: opportunity doesn’t always knock. Sometimes it just stands outside the window or hums through a vent, so we miss out on a lot when we only look for door knobs.

Keep boxing temptation