Finding Joy in a New World

Jan. 23 2015

One of the best coping mechanisms you can have in life is the ability to find joy in whatever life situation you find yourself in. I have always been pretty good at applying this in my life, and so far, it is serving me particularly well here at Taft Prison Camp.

For most of us, life has many ups and downs — financially, physically and emotionally. As the downs occur, many of the things that brought us joy in the up times are no longer available. The challenge is to find joy in the new environment — often in things you would not have notices when times were good. For example, until recently, I spent most weeks away from home working in Orange County. I would talk to Ken every day, but I must admit, I wasn’t always fully present when I spoke to him. Now I talk to him every day and the joy it brings to me is indescribable. Receiving a card, letter, email or book is also a reason to celebrate and be thankful.

I am also finding joy here at Taft camp. In thinking about my life here — and especially when I want to complain about something — it helps me to think about the journeys that many of the other inmates are on. I have met men here who have sentences of greater than 20 years and who have transferred from higher security prisons (i.e., “real” prisons). I have also met men who have spent months, even years, in local detention centers locked up with violent offenders. To many of these men, Taft camp is heaven. No fences, freedom to move around, workout equipment, decent food and a fantastic commissary list that includes fresh produce. When I think about it this way, how can I have any complaints???

There are many things here that bring me joy. Long walks with friends after dinner. The quiet sounds of a man in prayer. A hot shower! Sitting on a bench in the sun with a good book. The taste of a perfectly ripe avocado.

I am doing my best to be open to finding joy in as many things as possible and I encourage each of you to take time in your busy lives to do the same.


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