March 20, 2014

I woke up in a good mood this morning. Part of that reason is because I know this will be the only March I ever serve in prison.  Many of my fellow prisoners have served many March’s and some have even more ahead. Finding perspective from prison helps me on days when I miss my family.

So far I’ve learned many lessons through this short prison experience. Beyond perspective, another lesson is to always appreciate the importance of family, community. A cliché holds you do not know what you had until it’s gone. Well my family is not gone, but I understand the meaning in those words. I do miss my wife, my children.

Some prisoners try to assuage the pain from home by tuning out the outside world, including their family. I cannot do that. That approach, I have learned, simply delays the inevitable. Rather than pretending problems do not exist, I am learning it is best to tackle them head on. Delaying them or pretending they do not exist is not an option nor does it change the reality of the situation.

Despite some tough days I believe I am molding an Andy Rothenberg that will release from prison differently than the man who walked in. This growth is not happening by accident. I am working hard. I have given up smoking and believe kicking that habit will allow me to live a longer and healthier life. I am exercising in doses I plan to sustain over a lifetime. Reading is becoming a higher priority. Building a family and business didn’t allow much time to read the classics. I know reading will help me find more meaning in this journey. I asked my buddy Justin Paperny to send me a copy of Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. I started reading it before my surrender, but didn’t finish.

Before my prison term I knew avoiding boredom would not always be easy. Too many good guys here just wait for one day to advance to the next. I get it. This is not easy. But to thrive through this experience I must remain aware, always embracing the fact that if I do not maintain perspective and find meaning in this journey then the time here will truly be a waste. One day my daughters will be old enough to understand that their father served time in prison. When they are I want to be able to proudly state that while I was away from home, I made the most out of the experience. I want them to know every decision I made was made with them in mind. My wife and kids strengthen me on days when I miss them. I have a ways to go, I know. But I am improving, gaining momentum everyday, and doing my best to resist capitulating to a system that swallows so many.

Andy Rothenberg

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