An ageless debate stagnates among us about whether the demoralization and morbidness of the Texas prison structure is present by intent, or just cause and effect. However, no one reasonable denies that the end result is symmetrical. Yet, just as there seems to be a pattern to the depravity, there also appears to be a hierarchy in the overcoming of it. It’s subjective of course, and in some cases men submit to insanity or the ultimate despair before they can adapt, but the rest of us progressively mitigate the suffering. It’s true what they say: you really can get used to anything.
I can speak only of my own scale of “triumphs over penitentiary malignancies and the speed in which each was accomplished, but through more than 20 years of involuntary observation I’ve noticed that the steady advancement towards apathy (In prison, apathy and adaption are pretty much the same thing), is common. We get over it. But true adaption to this environment cannot be obtained without incurring institutionalization, a psychological malady that prevents a person from being able to function normally outside an institution. But I believe it’s a necessary evil for anyone serving more than 10 years.
I have, perhaps, reached the highest level of adaption possible, but when I first arrived, every aspect of this nether existence was torture and I knew I could never endure a life sentence of it. Everything was nutrition, to sleep, to the very underwear on my body was unbearable. The food was so vile I couldn’t eat more than a few bites at a time. Sleep was impossible, the slamming metal and shouting ghetto voices never ceased and the undulating fear and self pitty of my thoughts raged their own symphony. I found sharing underwear with strangers repulsive, yet no alternative was available. As the months passed however, I learned to force down the disgusting food. Exhaustion overcame the noise to give me sweet oblivion, and I repressed my revulsion to the point where I imperviously put on dingy boxers worn by hundreds of previous men, many of whom harbored terminal diseases.
Torments like the absence of privacy, the daily degradation, and the constant humiliation took longer to alleviate. Have you ever had to empty your bowels in front of forty people? Probably not, but you can imagine and possibly understand why I used to hold it in, sometimes for days, waiting late into the night for most but never all of the incarcerated population to sleep before I would relieve myself. Sometimes my body betrayed me in the middle of the day and I was forced to drop my pants in front of everyone and take care of business. It took a while but I got over it. Same with the strip searches that took place several times a day; I was self-conscious about bending over naked and spreading by “cheeks” in front of a crowd, especially when women were present, but years passed and I finally refused to give my tormentors the satisfaction of my embarrassment. Today I will be strip searched and I will in sincerity, not feel the slightest discomfort.
I recount these afflictions one at a time, but in reality a new prisoner is barraged by them. The hierarchy of indifference depends upon the temperament of each individual, and which debasement touches closest to their heart. Being somewhat pacifistic by nature, the casual violence of the penitentiary struck me to the core, probably more than most. Yet, being locked into a 5’ x 9’ cage didn’t phase me, unlike it does many men, especially the unfortunate claustrophobic. However, just as there are no claustrophobics in prison, because facing your fears is the ultimate cure, I finally stopped wincing at each witnessed act of violence. But it took some time.
I hadn’t been here three weeks when I witnessed by first rape. The shower room was as always jam packed with human flesh, and in the middle of the chaos I watched two of the largest men I’ve ever seen beat and sodomize a small white kid. All the people who could see it either watched impassively or ignored it. The one present guard directed his attention elsewhere. I kept scanning the crowd hoping someone would intervene, but as far as I could tell, I was the only one remotely disturbed by the event. Prison’s first golden rule: Mind your own business.
The same day as the rape, I saw two guards dislocate and break the arms of an old black man, evidently because he had cussed one of them. A week later I saw my first murder, another kid, stomped to death in the day-room by a gang of inmates. Each act of violence strengthened my resolve to withdraw into myself and avoid confrontation. Somehow, I become inured to the violence. On a Wednesday, several years into my incarceration, I was standing in the chowhall line when someone reached around me and cut the throat of a man in front of me. I was soaked in blood. But instead of feeling the horror or revulsion I once would’ve, I felt nothing except for a mild irritation that I would have to go hungry in order to clean all the blood off of me. That’s when I knew I had finally reached the level of apathy necessary to maintain my sanity.
I’m serving my 21st year now and things have changed some, both in prison and within myself. There’s still violence and probably always will be, but I’m neither fearful nor indifferent. I allow myself empathy, but not to the point that I injure myself with it. I have more understanding of the violence, or at least its cause. Prison steals almost all the control from an individual, making him powerless. A powerless person has very little dignity to cling to except for what he imagines. To hurt someone who has violated whatever illusionary dignity that remains, or simply to lash out, is the only power many of these men feel they have. Violence is a form of dignity for them, a twisted one to be sure, but a dignity nevertheless. There are other causes for prison violence, rage and mental illness to name a couple, but in the end it’s usually about a helpless person trying to exert control.
Getting used to the physical violence was hard, but for the person I was, the verbal violence was worse; the coarse savagery of common interactions between inmates or even guards. There is an aggression in our daily exchanges that normal people would consider very rude. Courtesy, especially of a subtle variety is nonexistent. Initially, whenever I asked a question or ventured a comment, the responses were invariably gruff, taciturn, or simply absent. I couldn’t afford to be visibly upset, but any of the social customs here raised my blood pressure. I almost smile now to remember how sensitive I was. Politeness and consideration belong to an alien world that has little to do with the penitentiary. I felt so out of place in this hostile atmosphere, and was soon convinced that every communication with guards and fellow captives was a potential land-mine. I continued to withdraw deeper into myself, silent unless absolutely necessary. Any time I was around others I was hyper-alert, like an antelope in lion territory. I allowed myself to relax only when I locked in my cage, yet even then there was no real escape from the violent prison music, the cacophony of screams, slamming metal and catcalling; the noise was constant and ubiquitous, folding me into a psychological quail.
Eventually I discovered that some of the rudeness was a veneer, and not always antagonistic. A great many men put on a show of being tough and antipathetic, but beneath their chest lies a common human heart, yearning for love and acceptance, yet terrified of rejection. A great deal of the hostility I perceived was merely a projection of my own fears. The harsh socialization was to be expected had I only given it thought. Punitive ambience aside, any all-male environment will lack in overt courtesy. Without the balance of females the tenderness of mothers, sisters and daughters, it stands to reason that the brutality and masculinity of men will be amplified. Throw in the extreme deprivation and it’s no wonder things are a bit discourteous.
Unfortunately by the time I realized that much of the vindictiveness I perceived was artificial, I had estranged my spirit so thoroughly, I couldn’t rid myself of the fears and doubts about social interaction. I too became habitually gruff and unfriendly in manner. On the inside I was the same person, but I refused to make myself vulnerable in any way. I made a few friends over the years (friendships that never lasted due to the transient nature of the sprawling Texas corrections system), but I couldn’t bring myself back to the polite and open person I’d been when I first arrived and my fears cheated me out of many would-be allies. In the following 2 decades I managed to garner a great deal of respect from my peers, but little affection.
Violence: physical, verbal and mental, hostile environment, prostration, mortification, demoralization… which takes the longest to overcome? As I’ve said, it’s relative, but I believe that for the majority of us, the most difficult monkey to get off our back is grief and yearning. The loss of freedoms great and small. The familiar comfort of home. The laughter of children, the kiss of the sun, beauty of any kind, the slobbering love of dogs… the list of losses is infinite. I think most of all we miss being treated like real people; surely the loss of humanity is the greatest affliction of incarceration.
Some of the short-timers will maintain the love and loyalty of outside relationships, but the majority of us are doomed. Grief and yearning aren’t always something one gets over quickly. It took me thousands of days to repress mine and frankly, there are still moments, alone in the dark, when haunted tears escape. But generally, institutionalization has rescued me from mourning my former human existence. The penitentiary is my life now and I only court pain by wishing for more. So, have I finally reached the pinnacle of numbness? In a way. It seems to me that any torment can be tamed with the right blend of surrender and acceptance. You can fight of course, but it’s stupid because you can change nothing. Sometimes it helps me to remember that there are countless lives in this world that entail far worse suffering than mine. No one lives without conflict and many people including the rich and famous live in prisons of their own creation. In some ways, I am more free than them. If you put the hopelessness and injustice of my predicament aside, one could almost say I’ve been blessed. I have no future to anticipate and a past so painful it’s a relief to forget. Because of this I can do what spiritual leaders have always taught, I can actually live one day at a time, sometimes one breath at a time. Thus I manage to expend many breaths in peace, if not happiness.
Despite however much the great state of Texas may disagree, I am definitely a human being, and peace just doesn’t seem to be a natural state of being for us. New yearnings and angsts continue to find me even when I’m focused on my breath. A new ill has steadily growth rather than regressed over the past few years. It has occurred to me that it isn’t necessarily just the persecution of prison that crushes our souls, but the lack of purpose, the absence of productivity. Socially, we are genetically programmed to contribute to the herd for mutual survival. Despite how much technology and modern values have warped this premise, making t possible to safely live isolated, our DNA hasn’t caught on yet. If you aren’t loving and giving to others, you begin to deteriorate and hate yourself. We all have a deep need to produce, we all subconsciously need a meaning for our life. A great many people live and die without ever being aware of this, but I have no such luck. Granted, I’ve adjusted to the malignancy of my existence so thoroughly I can expose my anus to the world without the slightest compunction, but I torture myself because my life has no meaning. I believe the worst castigation of incarceration is that it forbids us from contributing to something above or outside ourselves, it stifles our istinctive desire to create and be needed.
For life to be fully lived, it should have meaning, a purpose that guides, energizes and inspires. This theme seems inescapable to me now. It used to mystify me as I read about ancient societies where the ultimate punishment for an individual and banishment. It was considered a death sentence. That struck my modern culturally twisted mind as just plain silly. Rejection hurts but I’d never die from it I thought, with the way some people are, I’d likely consider it a favor. But now I’m beginning to understand. Like the high number of elderly and terminally ill people around the world who die immediately after a major holiday… the explanation seems to be living up to that holiday was the very purpose that kept those people alive and that once that objective was achieved, there was nothing left to live for. Or the inordinate number of people that die soon after retiring from a long career, and the many people who follow their lifelong spouses into death; these workers and lovers all lost their meaning and therefore their will to live. I think a lot about that and its depression, mostly because I don’t have a reason to live either. I’m still relatively young and healthy so my body hasn’t figured it out yet, but the years are flying by and it won’t be long before living becomes a true challenge. Then what?
Viktor Frankl illustrated this question perfectly in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was a Jewish psychologist who survived the Nazi death camps of WWII. Many of the men around him gave up and died because their suffering was so extreme it was easier to die than to live. I’ve read it countless times because no book has ever inspired me as much to look inside myself. The first time I read it, I envisioned the starvation, the cold, the disease, and the knowledge that all of my friends and family were likely being exterminated and that it was probably my destiny as well. The question I asked was, could I have possibly clung to life through all of that? It’s a subjective question and probably impossible to answer accurately, but I have a policy of being a brutally honest with myself as possible, and for who I am at this moment, there’s no way in hell I would’ve survived that. There would be no reason to. Beatings and freezing labor while slowly being starved to death; why bother when you could simply walk to the fence and receive the instant relief of death? Yet Frankl witnessed people who in the midst of starvation, would give their bread crust ration to someone they felt compassion for. There were even individuals who kept their health, humor and altruism where bitterness, misery and naked greed prevailed. Frankl concluded that it was inner meaning that distinguished these saintly survivors. But what possible meaning could inspire someone to live gracefully through such intense deprivation and hopelessness? Basically, that was the subject of Frankl’s masterpiece, and one I’m finding myself more and more obsessed with. How can I find the self generated motivation to keep fighting against all odds? I think hope has a lot to do with it, in my mind, Frankl’s “meaning” is synonymous with “hope,” and where does hope come from?
Frankl’s first explanation was love: a person may not have the will or strength to survive torture for themselves, but what if there’s someone out there waiting, someone who needs you? Many of us endure for love what we never could for ourselves. If you’re able to contribute to the welfare of someone you cherish, you’re fulfilling a deeply satisfying purpose. If I had someone who cherished me, needed me, perhaps even I could’ve survived where so many gave up. Love is definitely a meaning for living, maybe the most sublime meaning of all. Unfortunately, love isn’t something many prisoners can have, after all, who in the world holds an inmate dear? Even if they do, how long can it last? Incarceration is the bane of love. Not just the separation which is poisonous to all relationships, but the shame attached to caring about a “criminal.” Imprisonment makes strangers of lovers and distant memories of families. What man, completely separated from society for years can hope to maintain love or value from anyone in that society? Ideals and fairy tales aside, love isn’t everlasting or stable, it requires sacrifice, it must be fed and made anew in order to survive. A prisoner’s inability to commune or actively nurture outside relationships usually results in the death of love. Someday I may again be in the position to earn love, but for now, it doesn’t seem to be a meaning I can aspire to.
Perhaps Frankl was aware that love wasn’t available for everyone, because it wasn’t the only meaning he talked about. He also mentioned work. If a man has a work unique to his ability, a task only he can complete, his labor and by extension himself, have meaning. By placing value in his work, he gives himself a reason to get up in the morning and strive, regardless of his circumstances.
If there’s one thing allowed in southern penitentiaries, it’s work. Work is in fact mandatory. Sadly, they’re still modeled after the slavery plantations many of them formerly were. The Texas Department of Corrections has numerous profitable industries to take advantage of their free labor. Inmates pick cotton, make textiles, retread tired, mix chemicals, model furniture, signs, BBQ pits, and an ongoing list that seems infinite. Yes, there’s plenty of labor to go around for an inmate, but its hard to take pride or find meaning in work when you know you’re being exploited. There is no compensation of any kind, not even gratitude for the work we’re constantly compelled to do. If they were to pay us just a penny a day, or give us a simple “atta boy,” I seriously believe it would make all the difference. That’s what’s strange about Texas, they may take pride in having the nation’s most austere prison system, but they still give lip service to rehabilitation. Yet, one of the few avenues of genuine rehabilitation they ould utilize to help prisoners and the society they’ll eventually be released to, is twisted into its opposite. Instead of giving these men who suffer from chronically low self-esteem and no work skills some morale and work ethic, Texas turns them into bitter malcontents, teaching them to hate work and society, stealing their dignity for profit.
The state, either incidentally or by design, eliminates the meaning we could derive from our labor, but despite this southern tradition, there remains an innate need within many men to produce, invent, create. From time immemorial, prisoners have found the ingenuity to make something from practically nothing. Beautiful, intricate and simply unbelievable works have originated from many men who spend unfathomable amounts of time in a tiny cage, deprived of the most basic tools. Not all of it positive of course, weapons and means of escape (both physical and mental), will always occupy the minds of the incarcerated. One man cut his way through several steel barriers using the woven thread of his clothes and toothpaste. It took him years of insane labor and it wasn’t even an escape attempt, he did it to get out of his cage to stab a rival gang member. Yet other men have used those same years of crazy work to create things of beauty. In fact, the majority of in-cage productions are about aesthetics, which are practically non-existent in a Texas penitentiary. Complex models, jewelry and jewelry boxes made from the most rudimentary materials you could think of, like popsicle sticks and match sticks, yet so intricate and complex they’d be the envy of any craftsman; mostly constructed from tools such as a contraband paperclip or nail, glue made from commissary rice, dye extracted from the pages of magazines and you’d be amazed how diverse a tool a pair of fingernail clippers are. They are lifelike sculptures made from carved dominoes or soap, beautifully complex necklaces weaved from different colored trash bags and sparkling picture frames made from the foil from the inside of chip bags. Origami that would awe perhaps even a Japanese master. I speak not of amateur efforts of which are plentiful too, but brilliant creations that take hundreds of hours in painstaking focus. Prison gave birth to some extraordinary artists and craftsmen and this is no accident. Its proof that there’s a human instinct to produce, a compulsion that must be met, even when it’s mostly discouraged or even forbidden by prison officials.
Had I personally never entered a prison, it’s highly unlikely I’d have ever learned to draw even a stick figure, but facing thousands of hours in a cage, the need to create something took hold of me. I decided I would learn to draw; but I didn’t want to draw just anything or merely be good at it. I wanted to draw life, and I wanted to do it in the hyper-realism technique I’d always though was done through some form of magic. At first my attempts were so pathetic it seemed impossible. But years of emptiness and a tenacious disposition worked wonders. Presently, I believe I can pain realistic portraiture as skilled as almost anyone. What I lack in talent I make up for in obsessive persistence. I ask you; is anything more conducive for art than the mixture of suffering and monotony?
But despite the level of skill I’ve taught myself in art, I’ve failed to find Frankl’s meaning in my work. I only have to picture myself starving and unbearably cold in a concentration camp… would my art lead me the strength and motivation to survive; is my art that inspiring? Though I love to pain and few things in my life have satisfied me more, I don’t believe my art could bring me the hope necessary to live through that kind of hell.
Art isn’t the only work I tried to find my meaning in. I never wrote an unprompted word before I lost my freedom. Maybe a few letters to my wife and mom when I was in the Navy, but nothing like what you’re reading now. If painting was a challenge, then learning to write has been a bloody nightmare. Not only does it take copious amounts of thought and focus, but when you write about something painful, you feel the pain all over again. It’s like intentionally stabbing yourself repeatedly with an ink pen. Writing in prison is horrible, especially amidst the constant interruptions, noise and chaos. Once again tenacity and emptiness served me. Unlike my artwork, I’ve never been paid a dime for all the writing I’ve done, but I keep at it because no matter how cynical my world is, it failed to kill the dreamer that resides within my heart. I keep thinking that if my words reach the right people, maybe it will somehow make a difference. I want so badly to believe my writing matters, that it’s important, but I cannot, not yet. Twenty years of being garbage has made it hard even for this dreamer to believe he can do something important or special. Hence, Frankl’s first two meanings, love and work, elude me. His other meanings, meaning through suffering, is one I confess to not understanding. He said if you can find a reason behind your suffering, it can give you meaning. But even if I were guilty of the crime that put me here, and I’m definitely not, how could that inspire me to live through hell? Obviously, I’m missing Victor Frankl’s point. The rest of his work is self evident. There’s people all over the world who’ve transformed their lives with a set purpose. Meaning is an elixir.
The Texas Department of Corrections is probably the least humane sanctioned system we have in the U.S., but it’s still years ahead of a WWII concentration camp. People have found meaning through far worse suffering than I’ve experienced here, so why am I struggling?
I often imagine I could easily find a meaning if I were free and able to make choices. I could devote myself to the service of other people or even to the welfare of unwanted dogs and cats. I could volunteer to make audiobooks for blind children, or organize protests against organizations that destroy the environment. Even a less popular, perhaps crazy idea, I could lobby for prison reform. I could do any number of things I believe are important and surely I could apply the same discipline and focus to something worthy that I have to selfish pursuits like painting and meditation… But if it’s that simple, why isn’t everyone doing it? I may be deluding myself that love and meaning would be easy to earn if I weren’t incarcerated. It’s silly to waste energy speculating anyway, because however unjust, the dungeon I’m trapped in is my world and the only choice for finding my meaning. Not that I’m foolish enough to believe hope would end my suffering permanently, but it’s got to be better than despair.
I’ve discussed my search for meaning with other men and most are as clueless as I am, with the exception of those whom believe religion is the answer. Prison is full of men who’ve eagerly embraced one religion or another, but their actions never match their teaching, which was my experience in the free world too. Hypocrisy aside, I’d love to find my meaning through religion, be it real or imaginary (In the end, what’s the difference?), but I cannot force myself to view religion as anything but completely unreasonable. I’m not the kind of person who can embrace other people’s dogmas for my own comfort. But one day I was discussing my options with a like-minded friend, brain-storming I guess. It didn’t seem hard to list them, writing and painting as possibly meaningful work, reading, thinking, mindfulness and religion for meaning of spirit. I asked my friend what he thought and he gave a suggestion that totally broke open my box. He asked what I thought about being beautiful. Before I could think about that, he asked if I noticed how the energy of our cellblock changed when Mwagi, ( a female African guard) works. Of course; everyone notices. Mwagi has an easy smile, a cheerful demeanor and never sweats the small stuff some of the other guards enjoy harassing you about. When we’re lucky lucky enough to get her on our block, the whole atmosphere seems to take a big sigh of relief. And that smile of hers…. It makes everyone feel better just to see it. Some guards are just the opposite. They hate life and seek to make everyone who crosses their path as miserable as they are. When one of those works the block, tension crackles through the air. We’re all worried about trouble and naturally, it comes. But when emotionally intelligent guards like Mwagi and her smile work a shift, the energy is blessedly different.
“Mwagi’s beautiful, right?” my friend asked. I could only nod. Maybe not beautiful in the conventional sense, but her attitude makes her radiant. That’s what my friend meant when he asked me what I thought about beautiful as a meaning. Imagine being able to make people feel good with your very presence. Imagine being a lovely shining orchid in the middle of a dark sewer. It’s a lofty aspiration indeed, especially if you know anything about prison life. The general rule is that kindness is weakness, and that to be thought weak in prison is the absolute worst. It gives everyone justification to victimize you, steal your personal property and more. The general consensus here is that if a man is weak, then he’s not really a man and deserves whatever comes his way. It goes back to the twisted values of an all male culture. Ironically, when we’re in the free world we instinctively protect the weak; women, children, pets – we feel rage when someone injures them, but in here? A man who seems weak or effeminate is scorned. Most of us overcompensate the opposite way to prevent any such impression, so being kind or smiling too much isn’t all that wise. But there are always exceptions to the rule. There are inmates that we all know aren’t weak, and they get away with being nice. Most of these exceptions are black or Mexican, who in prison are automatically afforded more respect than whites because of their reputation for violence. It’s a stereotype but that’s the way it is. However, even southern penitentiaries are being forced to change, it’s no longer a given that nice guys will be raped or robbed, even they’re white. Combine this with the fact that I’m a veteran prisoner known to be quite capable of defending myself, there’s no reason for me to follow the old status quo. I can get away with smiling kindness and lose my gruff apathetic act. And maybe if I did, I could generate the same energy that Mwagi does.
Why can’t I be beautiful? Why can’t I ease the misery and suffering of the people around me even if just a little? Why can’t I make a difference? Isn’t that what meaning is all about? Yet, of all the meanings available in prison, that may be the most difficult one for me to aspire. I suppose the best way to change is to fake it till you make it. Pretend to be something until you become it. I’ve spent so long being gruff, anti-social and ugly to protect myself, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s who I’ve become. I find it almost impossible to smile at prisoners I don’t know. No doubt that’s partly due to the subconscious fear I’m sure still lies beneath the surface, but being nice to these men is so hard… would it be that big of a struggle if I was still pretending? What happened to the nice guy I used to be?
Perhaps I’m like Mark Twain’s cat that sat on a hot stove lid. She never sat on a hot stove lid again, but then, she never sat on a cold one either. Those first years of course social interaction burned me. Now, though I really have nothing to fear anymore, I simply cannot make myself open up again.
Almost 2 years ago a very special person died at the age of 20. Her name was Allison Willen and the amount of lives she touched all over the world in her short time was simply extraordinary. From orphans in Africa to handicapped children in New Zealand, to college students and disadvantaged kids in America, to a man thousands of miles away rotting his life away in a Texas prison. Her attitude, her heart and the incredible life she lived was so unique and inspirational, her family and friends started a foundation and website in her honor. Live like Ally, (LLA). It’s to encourage others to be as intrepid, kind, and beautiful as she was, to find your potential and live life to it’s fullest. Even though I’d lived twice as long as Ally, she was a role model for me, and I’d give anything to be like she was. I’ve tried. Last year I told myself that I too wanted to live like Ally. I couldn’t help handicapped kids in New Zealand ride horses, but as my friend suggested, one can be beautiful under the ugliest circumstances. So I tried. I started small, by resolving to say hello to at least one stranger every day. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I lasted all of 3 weeks before I crawled back into my shell.
I’m not the only one who has failed to live like Ally. A few of her friends from college have written to me since Allison’s tragedy. They wanted to reach out to me like Ally did, be my pen pal and provide support. They meant well and I didn’t doubt their sincerity, but none of them lasted beyond one or two letters. Like me and my resolve do be kind to strangers, Ally’s friends made the same discovery that I did; it’s not easy to live like Ally. Touching people and making a difference was her priority, which sadly is an unusual priority in our self-absorbed society.
We all saddle emotional patterns that seem unbreakable after a while. Does that mean it’s impossible? Of course not. It just requires a lot of effort and commitment, more than most people will ever be willing to give as they stay in their selfish box. But it can be done if one truly wants it. If they’re willing to get back up time and again when they fall. That’s how any difficult goal is accomplished.
I remember when I first decided I would start practicing mindfulness meditation. It was a true challenge and boring as well. I’d do it for a few days and then fall of for months. Something I’d read would inspire me to try again, with the same results. I lacked any consistency. Much like someone who professes a desire to learn a new language or write a novel, the want was there, but no commitment. Yet, I kept returning after each failure. Finally my desire became determination and transformation occurred. Today, medication is an integral part of my lifestyle and the rewards have been multiple. I still get sidetracked sometimes, get so busy and tired that I miss days and fall into my selfish box, but it’s no longer a struggle to return to my healing routine. Occasionally the absence even reinforces and improves the benefits.
The desire to live like Ally still resides strongly within me, and I haven’t given up trying. I know that just like with meditation, as long as I keep getting back up, the reinforcements will become commitment and my past conditioning will be broken. I can be beautiful, I know it. And perhaps that will become my ultimate purpose. I refuse to give up. Viktor Frankl never said meaning could be found without struggle.
[For more information on LLA, please click below for the official foundation website.]