I believe, that in order to change the misconceptions and negative perspectives, of which society has many in relation to our criminal justice system, we need to change the headlines. I was taken aback this weekend when I went to double check my spelling of a name before commenting on a related post on LinkedIn. The curse of the red line, or lines in this case, as neither the forename or surname were recognised. However, and for once, the mocking red line turned out to be a blessing in disguise – I would’ve said disgiusy but it wouldn’t have made literal sense until further on.
The blessing in disguise of the curse of the red line has given me the perfect opportunity to provide a visual representation about a part of the Journey of a reformed man. Not only that, it has also provided a perfect representation of the hashtag I primarily use, #WhatCanBe.
I am of the opinion that it is in our human nature to learn. Nurturing is a major influence behind the motivation for a Master or Miss, or even a Mr or Mrs, to learn. No matter what we do in life, we learn. Every day has a lesson to be learnt if we are willing. Not only are we students of life, we are also in one form or another teachers too.
Since I was a young child I’ve had a thirst for knowledge. A yearning for learning that has grown rather than diminish over the years. It wasn’t learning I had a problem with, I loved learning, it was teachers, school and authority whom I took umbrage with, something which I take full responsibility for. We can only be responsible for our own actions and not the actions or reactions of others. That is for their conscience.
My last, and final, prison sentence, for once, came in the right place and at the right time. Basically, I was lucky to be in prison.
“You were whaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttt!!!!!!!?”
Yeah! I was lucky. In more ways than one too. Even from a practical perspective. I had a roof over my head. Regular meals every day. Okay, so the food wasn’t anything to write home about, well, not unless you were moaning. Which we did. Constantly. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right? My cell was en-suite. Sort of. Then again, was my cell in a toilet? Having said that, my cell (or W.C) was also where I ate my nothing to write home about food. So, did I???
- Sleep in a toilet?
- Eat in my bedroom? or
- Shit in my dining-room?
Let’s just say my cell was convenient in an inconvenient situation that had convenience within.
But! And a big BUT! at that. I cannot lie, I like a big BUT! (Bet you sung the song in your head).
It was also a room which gave me the perfect home from which to, first grow the fuck up (to a point), then become self-aware of who I was, who I wanted to be and how I was going to get there. Ergo, #WhatCanBe.
I didn’t want to label the following images as before and after. That could constitute I have arrived at some form of pre-determined destination which could not be any further from the truth. #WhatCanBe has a long way to travel yet. You could even say #WhatCanBe is infinite. I’d also like to think the images provided a great example in relation to Journey of a reformed man.
I have written quite a lot about what worked for ME! in prison. However, in respect of writing/creative writing, as I began my latest education journey studying for an Access Module via The Open University and distance learning, it was because of the feedback I was receiving from my tutor which gave me the confidence and belief to replace the old negative, helped along by others over the years, self-talk with “ya know what David my old son, you can actually do this” as I moved on to my degree. The staff within the education department at HMP Norwich along with the library staff all conspired to also provide me with confidence and belief in my newly found talent to create rather than destruct.
Best drug ever.
So much better than spice, crack and heroin that’s for sure.
Change happens within the individual. Change usually takes place if and when the individual is ready to do so.
Change is also something that can be influenced to start earlier than expected.
Just having belief in someone can be a key to unlocking it.
The difference when people hear you, listen to you and believe in you can and does change the headlines.
One to one… They meet, maybe across a table.
A soul-less room, wet with tears, thick with pain.
Please… Just listen, before you fail me.
For a poem is not just sound it is silence as well.
We fail to listen to understand whilst providing rapid response.
The empathetic listening ear changes ways of thinking.
We listen… We learn… of others, hopes, failures, fears and dreams.
Unselfish connections in this absorbed and troubled world.
Unconditional listening, an art form… not achieved by all.
Creating a deeper bond of empathy, the trade begins.
Come quietly into my world and allow me to be me.
Failure comes when ears are closed.