Saturday, March 28, 2009
Fifty-Two Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp
Today begins my 12th consecutive month in prison. It feels as if it has been a long time in coming. Nevertheless, I’m pleased to have reached this point. This will be the last full month I have to measure as a prisoner.
I’ve learned many lessons through my prison experience and the journey has enabled me to feel much stronger. Without question, I can say that the Justin Paperny who is ready to walk out of prison differs in remarkable ways from the Justin Paperny who walked in. The growth I have made has not come by accident. Rather, I attribute my advancement to the strategy that I began following soon after I arrived.
The strategy may seem simple to the casual observer, though few prisoners truly grasp its significance. Too many men, I have observed, walk into these boundaries and serve time by the hour. They watch the hands on the clock turn, always waiting for something. They wait for the next meal, for mail delivery, for one week to advance into the next, or the marking of another month. Others are stuck on the legislative watch, waiting for lawmakers to bring reform that will release them. Such a capitulation to the system did not work for me and I don’t recommend it.
I learned from observing others who have thrived through the adversity of imprisonment for many years. My conversations with them convinced me that to make the most of confinement an individual had to make decisions that were similar to those who lead optimal lives in any setting. They don’t wait for life to pass them by. They create their own opportunity for a meaningful existence.
By leading a proactive adjustment an individual can use the time inside as a kind of sabbatical that enables him to prepare for richer experiences on many levels. He sets the strategy by envisioning the manner in which he wants to emerge. That focus on an end goal enables him to chart his own course, to determine how he must devote his time. Such a strategy, I have found, changes the equation of confinement. Instead of serving time, I can honestly say that time has served me.
Prison is now nearly a part of my past. The decisions I have made while advancing through my sentence have resulted in my feeling stronger physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I am on solid footing, and I am as ready as I will ever be to lead a life of optimal existence.