Graduating to your purpose: The school of hard knocks

Graduating to your purpose: The school of hard knocks
Photo provided by columnist Dave Bishop/Credit: Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Prison B.R.E.A.K. is an acronym for Building Relationships Empowerment and Knowledge

Life is all about choices and chances. When someone in society does something wrong in the eyes of the law, they have to face the consequences. Paying a debt to society by serving time in state or federal facilities is never anyone’s first choice, but depending on the persons frame of mind it can be a chance to blossom and grow. There are so many things an individual can learn and take advantage of while in jail that can sometimes be out shined by the horror stories and sadness of being away.

I remember when I first went away. You usually go through the five stages of grief. First there is denial. You can’t believe you are there. The air is different. The walls are different and everything you ever took for granted seems more and more appealing as the seconds pass. Then you move to anger. This stage is where fault and blame is thrown around. Some inmates take blame, while others blame family, friends and lash out at anyone close to them. The third stage is bargaining. This is when you call your lawyer everyday trying to see what else can be done. You pray more than you ever have and the you began to wonder about your past. What if I didn’t do that? If only I could get another chance. Usually those mind games lead to the fourth stage: depression. You sit still more. You eat less. You become numb.

Then a day comes and you arrive to the beautiful destination called acceptance. Acceptance is the final stage and the most productive. As painful as it sounds, every stage is important to your future and how you will use your time. Some get stuck at points like anger and depression, but then there’s others who get on the road to graduation. After you shake off the pain it’s time to move different. You have to find a way to control the time or the time will control you.

I recall the day that my procrastination stopped and my progression began. I started to actively go to the law library to study. I found how different bills, laws and officials came about. I researched what some would call loop holes and inconsistencies. The new information clouded my brain and gave me a sense of purpose. Sitting in the library all day became a routine and for once while in jail, as crazy as this sounds, I enjoyed it. Now don’t get me wrong, I would have much rather been being this productive as a free man. But I knew that if I never went to jail and never had that kind of time to myself I wouldn’t be the man I am today.

I also spent some of my day reading. I enjoyed books like The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Thick Face, Black Heart by Chin-Ning Chu and 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. These stories gave me an escape. Taking my thoughts and dreams outside of the jail walls and into an overflowing fountain of purity. I was reborn. I found myself worried less about how much more time I had to spend there and more about how much more I could learn before it was time to put all my new knowledge to use in the real world.

Once I began to feed my mind knowledge, it’s only natural to want to share the wealth. Before I went in, I did party promotion. I’ve always loved being around people, meeting new people and soaking up information (while having a good time). I started to see more brothers around me wasting away as the days went on and I had to do something about it. I began teaching a class on special events. I took everything I knew about promotion, negotiation, contracts and how to make money and taught inmates a new skill that could be applied upon release.

When an inmate completed the class they were given a certificate of completion. To me, the certificate meant so much more than just a piece of paper, but it was me giving these men hope and purpose. Some of the guys had never completed anything and to have our small graduation ceremonies was symbolic to them graduated into a second chance. I became a mentor and a friend and this made me even more excited to take my experiences and stories back to society.

Graduation time is upon us. It’s a wonderful moment to be completely in awe with the bright, hardworking and dream chasing people around us. I’ve met and seen some successful people in my day. Some I know personally and others have inspired me from a far. With all of the stories I can tell expanding my mind and helping others while in prison is one of my favorite accomplishments.

Convicts: For every con there is a pro. A positive take on all the curve balls thrown your way. Don’t waste another day feeling sad and filled with regrets. Take up a trade. Pick up a book and enroll in a class. Your body may be in prison, but you can always free your mind. Be inspired and be great. The more you learn while inside, the more you can apply to your new life that awaits you outside those walls. Be a student. Graduate into new opportunities. Motivate others around you to do the same.

Loved Ones: Encourage your loved ones to be better. Talk with them and make them excited to learn something new. Send them books. Begin different research. Exchange notes via mail or email. The journey is always easier with love and support. The amazing thing about learning something new is it’s never ending. Once you guys finish one project, move on to the next. Keep up the momentum and watch everyone involved grow and flourish.

Graduating to your purpose: The school of hard knocksDave Bishop is the founder of the nonprofit organization, K.I.T.E. Inc., Konnecting the Incarcerated Through Excellence.The mission of the organization is to provide mentoring and support to children, younger than 18 years of age, who live in urban, underrepresented areas, and have at least one incarcerated parent. K.I.T.E. facilitates programs dedicated to providing financial assistance, emotional and crisis counseling, and educational and life skills training.

Connect with Dave: [email protected] FB: KITEUSA IG: @savemykite Twitter: @davereign

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