September 15, 2014

You Call This A Storm?

Well, after 8 months of waiting, school has finally started at Taft Federal Prison Camp. I just finished my second week of correspondence classes through Taft Community College. Currently I’m enrolled in 6 classes for a total of 16.5 units working towards getting my AA in business management. My classes include Intro to Business, Business Mathematics, Physical Geography, English, Intro to Psychology, and Ethics in Business. Because the structure is different than what I was used to, I’m still learning how to manage the workload.

Prior to the semester we order our books through the Taft College library. Most are rentals with only a few being for purchase, and are delivered to you on the first day of school along with your syllabus for each class. As some of you might not know, we have no internet access available to us. This is quite different to someone from my generation who grew up with computers from a young age. Although, we do have access to a computer lab, operated by a proctor from Taft College, to type our assignments. The proctor acts as our link to the actual college. He administers all quizzes and takes our completed homework back to the teacher, and once graded, returns it to us.

Overall, I’m very excited that school has finally started. I’m convinced that this is the best way to do your time. Not only am I working towards something I will have for the rest of my life, but it makes time seem to speed up. The last two weeks have gone incredibly fast.

Before I close today, I would like to take a minute to share with you an experience I had a few weeks ago. Previously I wrote about religion in prison, and I would like to touch on that subject again for a moment.

A friend I met here, recently left to go home after being in prison for over 6 years. This man was one of the most positive people I’ve ever meet in my life and by far the most positive man I’ve met in prison. I’m not going to lie; at first I thought it was an act. I thought to myself, how can anyone be this happy and positive all the time while in prison? Well the more I got to know him I realized that this was who he really was and it was not just an act.

In a previous post titled, “Practice What You Preach,” I talked about some of these men just going to church because they thought by going once a week they would be “forgiven” or something. Well, this man I’m referring to was the model for practicing what he preached. When I say preach, I mean it literally in his case because he actually graduated from the chaplains college offered here and became a preacher.

On his last Sunday here he personally invited me to the Christian services because he was going to be delivering his last sermon at Taft. As I’ve mentioned before, organized religion is not my thing, but I was happy to go to support him. I found the service quite interesting and different than other services I have attended in the past outside of prison. It seemed as if they had found a way to relate much of the bible to life in prison.

The most profound thing I took away from his sermon was his relation to prison being a “storm”. He found a very relatable way to introduce his theory by using Lt. Dan from Forest Gump as an example. We all remember the scene where Lt. Dan is working with Forest on the shrimping boat, and they encounter a huge storm. Instead of running from the problem, Lt. Dan climbs to the top of the mast during the storm and starts screaming to the heavens, “You call this a storm?”

This was his outlook on prison: it is only a storm that will pass. Not only will it pass, but there will be many more storms we encounter throughout life and if this is the worst one, we can consider ourselves blessed. I will remember his sermon for the rest of my life and think back to it during each storm that may present itself to me.

Rather than run and hide, we must face the storms in our lives head on. It is what we do when faced with these storms that defines who we are and who we want to become. So no matter what it is that you might be dealing with, do not be afraid, but rather look the problem square in the face and say, “You call this a storm?

Warren Schultz

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