Feb. 3, 2014

Hello World! (Jan. 25, 2014)

by Gregory Barnes Watson


January 25, 2014

Hello, World!

Walking the quarter mile from the chow hall to my housing unit tonight, I politely listened to one of my podmates rant and rage about how his friend "got f--ked by staff." He explained how his friend refused to give an urine sample to test for drug usage. The consequences were swift. He was moved to another yard, his TV and radio were confiscated, and he is going to be transferred to another, higher-security prison. Staff at this prison want the inmates to be programed (follow the rules). Malcontents will be removed.

On entering my pod, I asked the obvious question: "Why did your friend refuse to give a sample?" The answer: "He would test positive for drugs." Here is where I get confused, asking stupid questions. "Did he know drug use is illegal?" "Yes." "Did he know staff can ask for an urine sample at any time?" "Yes." "Did he know there would be consequences for refusing?" "Yes." "But he did those things anyway?" "Yes."

I asked no more questions and made no comments. Prisoners not yet ready to begin the journey to recovery always blame others for the bad situation they find themselves in. SURPRISE! Bad choices lead to bad consequences. Fact is the man f--ked himself. Until he looks in the mirror and blames the reflection, his life will continue down this negative road.

The day I stopped blaming my ex-business partner, my drug supplier, the judicial and prison system for my predicament (my 34 year to life sentence), I could affect change. It wasn't in others, but in me. It was empowering. The truth set my mind free. Good or bad things that happened to me could almost be predicted. When I chose to do good, good returned to me. When I chose to do bad or even wished bad on others, bad returned to me. Simple. Simple. Simple.

Arriving at this revolution, although painful (it's my fault), was the easy part of the change. I've spent years uncovering the "Why?" of my criminal behavior, my false beliefs, and broken mindset. Again, it sucks to say, "I was the problem," and shameful that because of it, many suffered.

Being further down the road to recovery than my podmate and his friends, I wanted to shake them while shouting, "Wake up!" Life is so much better (easier) when you discover that you have the power to determine the direction of your life. It may sound strange to say, but by my accepting responsibility and being accountable for my crimes, has made my prison time less painful. I deserved my sentence and I'm trying to serve it with dignity, honoring my victims by doing what is right.

I must acknowledge that I had a lot of help, support, and encouragement along my stumbling path to recovery. I am eternally grateful for them. People do care. So if you are blaming others for your bad situation, make sure at the top of the list is the reflection in your mirror.

Thanks for checking up on me.

Gregory Barnes Watson
Novel: A Thundering Wind
Journal: A Year in a Life Sentence


Replies (2) Replies feed

Push Posted 6 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 6 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hi Greg,
You may not remember me, my name is Jack Smith. We met a very long time ago. It was 1976, you were skateboarding on Highway 1, near Big Sur. Myself and two friends came to meet you and learn how your push was going, we also wanted advice from you, as we were driving to Oregon to begin our skateboard push across America.

A lot has happened in the long distance skateboarding world since 1976. A friend and I are producing a documentary titled "Push - The History of Long Distance Skateboarding". We would very much like to include the account of your historic 1976 push.

We hope you to hear from you.

All the best,
Jack and Robb

selahnow Posted 6 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 6 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hi, Greg, My name is Joan Shelton Broeckling, and I am your cousin - Mary & Beck Shelton's daughter. I knew that Mom had been corresponding to you, as she told me about it years ago. I was cleaning out some old papers and found a letter you wrote to her in 2000.

Mom is still alive, age 92 and living in a nursing home. Unfortunately, she has Alzheimers', which is now very advanced. She was diagnosed around 2004, which is probably why her correspondence stopped. I know she cared about you and respected what you were trying to do with your life.

I don't know how this "between the bars" system works, and if there is a way for me to send you my email address (and if you have access to email). I'll try writing you a snailmail letter - the last address I found online was at Cowchillla- hoping that's still a good address.

I saw online that you had a parole hearing last month - I'm wondering how that went?

I have recently been learning about restorative justice and strongly believe we should be going that direction if healing is our goal. I was sorry to hear that that effort of Ms. Rodriguez's grandson failed.

Hoping to hear from you, Joan

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