11 May 07
Six Months To Go
A number of people have asked for my thoughts and feelings now that I have six months left to serve at Tucson prison.
For the past five years I've been conditioned to try to make the most of each day and to deal with challenges as they arise. I became more forward focussed when this year began, and now I’m increasingly wondering what my life will be like when I’m free. Thoughts of freedom mostly make me happy. Regarding my worries, I tell myself that prison has given me a skill set with which I can overcome whatever obstacles present themselves.
I’m chiefly concerned about not being a burden to my parents. Living in their garage, I expect I’ll be a financial burden. I tell myself that I’m a natural money maker – but there’s always nagging doubts that arise between my delusions of grandeur.
Then there are the effects of my behaviour on my parents’ mental health. My sister recently sent me some printouts of my Mum’s blog. Reading them made me feel ill – and deservedly so – as I was reminded how the negative effects of my behaviour continue to affect Mum’s life. Since my arrest, she has been on and off psychiatric medication and she is now in therapy. Recently she sent me a letter in which she disclosed she’d had some nightmares about me with drugged-up eyes. That really socked me in the gut. I wrote back saying that incarceration has knocked some common sense into me. It has matured me, and focussed my mind on a new life path that I won’t throw away by behaving idiotically. I’m driven to do well for their sakes and my own.
So what do I do for fun when I get out? Reading and writing are fun. Creativity and accomplishment are fun. Spending time with family and friends is fun. Dropping Es with friends and raving in the 90s was fun but I’ve grown out of that – finally. I’m too old now. And that doesn’t mean that I’m no longer in touch with my inner child. I’ll always have a mischievous side. Raves enabled me and my friends to rebel against society like the flower children of the sixties. I believe a more productive and mature way to express my rebellious nature is through writing. Exposing injustice, giving voices to the marginalized, developing and sharing a philosophy: these are some of the things I’m presently about.
Whatever is driving me to write is coming from deep inside. As if by fate I was provided with a platform with which to share not only my life experience, but also the experiences of others. Writing has consumed me, and I realise that the opportunity I have will be wasted if I choose to follow the same path that put me in prison.
Educationwise, I want to pursue creative writing. To that end I’m making a final push here by reading everything about writing I can get my hands on and forcing myself to read more classical literature. Thanks to literary journals, I’ve become a contemporary short-story junkie. I believe that style is inherent but it is important for a novice like me to learn what not to do. Visualising myself sat writing at a computer puts a smile on my face.
To those of you who want to know how it feels to be this close to the gate: I feel like a tiny tea-leaf that has been floating in a sink of water undisturbed for an inordinate length of time, and is now suddenly being sucked toward a drain leading to a new existence – an existence full of the kind of joy only available to those people who have lost and recovered their lives.
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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood