Nov. 15, 2010
by Opollo Rey Johnson (author's profile)


Time in prison is often spent in self-reflection, one can't help but ask
themselves “How did this become my fate?” In my case, I could never
quite find my path, that “thing” that everyone else around me seemed to
have no trouble finding. The “thing” that identifies one's calling or
purpose in this life. I cannot lay claim to an inner-city horror story
as reason for my ultimate choices. Though perceived income inequality
does play some small part. My generation has suffered a remorseless
assault on its identity, reluctant to grow up; instead of leading: we
follow. I followed, blindly but willingly down the road to
perdition. When I did awake from the national fevered dream of easy
riches and bigger houses, an end had come to the era of reckless
personal behavior. Leaving me cognizant of the crucible of life. When
ones life is unhappy; self reflection is a distasteful task.

My personal experiences have been varied and inconsistant, extreme highs
along with crushing lows, and all of my own making. I have never been a
victim; just a young man who viewed the world through eyes wide
shut. One who took opportunities for granted: for whom life was a
game. Well, it's not fun anymore. The gravity of my situation haunts me
daily; as I contemplate my fate in solace.

Depending on ones perspective, I have been incredibly loyal or
incredibly stupid, but in truth, incredibly lonely. I am no martyr, I am
no hero nor villian. Only a man: A man whom seeks to redeem himself, to
show the world that lost boys can grow up. That I am not recalcitrant,
but resilient.

But these are just thoughts, as I watch the Sun's rays sparkle and dance
atop the razor wire that surrounds me, confines me.

Opollo Ray Johnson


Replies (3) Replies feed

lru Posted 13 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 13 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Hi Opollo,

Three things in your latest post struck me as insightful:

1) You mentioned that your generation is reluctant to grow up, and instead of leading, they follow.

I think this is much more common than people are willing to admit. Even people who seem to be leading are following in some aspect. It takes a lot of work and internal honesty to even discover what things, beliefs, ideas, or culture we are following. But without that work, people get lost in their own life, and that can happen regardless of what side of the law you happen to be on.

2) You say you took opportunities for granted, and went through the world with eyes wide shut. I can sympathize with that, as it has been true for me as well. Things that were opportunities earlier in my life, I didn't even recognize as such. It's only now that I look back, that I see where improvements could have been made, and really should have been made. But I was blind.

So even though you may feel haunted by the gravity of your situation, I'd gently point out that perhaps you are seeing things now that others may not see until they are old, or ever. And if you see them now, that means you can change it. But someone who doesn't see, he continues through life blind, and he's probably worse off.

3) You write, "I have been incredibly loyal, or incredibly stupid, but in truth, incredibly lonely." I can relate again. I've found that loneliness comes from a lack of honesty. People who know you, or think they know you, but don't know the real you, are just acquaintances. But to find someone who is trustworthy enough to know the real you, and still stick around, and not use it as a knife in the back, that's a true cure for loneliness.

I think the only way to get that kind of friend, is to be that kind of friend... the kind of friend that pursues honesty, the kind of friend that asks the kind of questions that you're wrestling with now... the kind of friend who is honest about himself and pulls honesty out of his friend as well, but always caring enough to accept what he finds.

I can say that finding such a friend, and being such a friend, is tough wherever you might find yourself. I've never been in prison, but solving these same issues you are facing is a challenge all the same. I wish you all the best in your struggle... I hope you find the kind of freedom that starts on the inside, and works its way out to all aspects of your life.

God bless,

rageahol Posted 13 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 13 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
There are some things you say in this letter that remind me of my own experiences. Though never incarcerated, I had my share of run-ins with the law as a young man. I was lucky enough to find people who helped me pull out of the situation I was in. Like you, I also thought for many years afterwards that these were the choices I made, bad ones certainly, but that they were things that I did. I refused to see myself as a victim.

With the benefit of a few more years, I can say that yes, I made those bad choices, and yes, I was responsible for the things I did, but the choices I had were also constrained by the situation I found myself in. In one sense, I was the perpetrator of acts that were profoundly negative for myself and others. And at the very same time, because of the situation I found myself in, which was complex, I was not able to see the good choices I could make if I chose to.

Sometimes when we attempt to take responsibility for our past wrongs, we go overboard. This can keep us from truly learning the lessons of our experience, because we do not allow ourselves forgiveness. And if we do not forgive ourselves on some level for our bad actions, then we cannot honestly address the root causes that led to our bad actions in the first place.

I hope you will continue to post on this blog. And I hope that you find greater peace in your self-reflection.

omgrupk Posted 13 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 13 years, 5 months ago   Favorite

I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your very eloquent, articulate and touching blog.

Thank you, and I hope to read more from you in the near future!

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Opollo Rey Johnson: RSS email me
Comments on “Untitled”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS