Staying Focused

Today I turned 40.
I’ve been in prison since I was 20 years old.
It’s time to reflect and see how far I’ve come.

More importantly, it’s time to reflect & recognize how much farther I have to go. I’m talking about my personal conduct, my inner thoughts, my attitude, and how I treat others.

After two decades of living around inmates, it’s hard to always be positive and kind.

I don’t like 95% of the people who I am forced to encounter on a daily basis. As a result, I’d fight and be rude. I would challenge the ignorant culture of my environment with hostility and violence. That attitude did not serve me well.

I’ve seen countless men who just flow with the norm of prison society. These men are negative, hostile, rude, and disrespectful as they exist in a mindless life. I recognized this early on and quickly realized what I had to avoid. I could not sink into the depths of prison culture. But to a degree, I already had.

I recognized the need for change.

So I made a commitment to myself and to my family, that I will not take my incarceration in vain. I will use this time to work on myself, and to become the best person I can possibly be. I embrace this challenge in the midst of adversity as I accept my hardship and transform it to a pathway of peace, love, and harmony.

When I turned 30, I vowed “no more fighting.” I tried hard, and I was able to avoid several fights. But I failed. I got into 5 fights that decade.

That tells me that I’m not trying hard enough. I lack focus. I’m not mentally strong enough to avoid physical altercations at all costs. I am allowing this environment to defeat me. I cannot allow that. I will not accept defeat.

Now that I am 40, this is a new and exciting chapter in life. I will embrace my past with understanding. I will apply life lessons in the moment.

Just the other day I was playing softball. After a few runs came in, I asked, “What’s the score?” Some guy blurts out, “Nobody gives a fuck what the score is, we’re just out here to play.”

I took immediate offense to his disrespect. I looked him directly in the eye as I asked again, “What’s the score?”

He replied, “What the fuck do I look like, a score keeper?”

Now here I am in an all-too familiar situation, but how I continue with this guy is up to me. It’s in this exact moment that I need to be focused, mindful, and smart. Otherwise I’ll end up making him #6 in the decade.

So, I just shut my mouth and removed myself from this situation.

From that point on, there was absolutely no more conflict. How easy was that!?

Well, it was actually kinda hard for me. I don’t usually let people talk to me like that. I’d normally comeback with some choice words of my own…and either he’d accept that, or we’d fight.

But that’s not the man that I want to be. So that’s not the man I am. Its my choice. How I choose to react to people is all up to me.

The law of attraction is in full effect. I will continue to be positive, and I will continue to put out love & respect. Its only a matter of time before the universe responds.

Steven Jennings

Author: Steven & Suzie Jennings

She was raised as a Mormon, and he is a convict serving 43 years in prison. This blog offers a glimpse into two vastly different worlds that somehow came crashing together. Join them on their journey through prison life & married life.

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