June 21, 2012

Dear Blog

by Daniel L. Van deBogart (author's profile)


Dear Blog, 5-22-12

Hello again. I hope everyone is still able to smile and enjoy their day. :)

I would like to thank Spryte for the feedback to my last blog and offer this brief apology: apparently my communications skills have suffered more damage than I had estimated. I did not intend my last post to suggest I deserved "Free" HBO. In fact, I don't recall mentioning HBO but rather some of the more educational networks and only as a replacement to the networks that would feed us a steady diet of the worst aspects of human nature via negative reality shows like Jerry Springer, Big Brother, Survivor, and the ilk. And though I reference the prison system (it is, after all, where I live) I do so only as I see this as a microcosm of the world in general. Anyway, I did not intend to write a whiney blog complaining about my life. I do NOT want to use this blog site as a "poor me" rant. I am serving a life sentence and trying to handle it with as much grace as I can. I am a realist and I am very aware of my situation, and have come to terms with it.

That being said, what's up with single-ply toilet paper? :)

Ok, on to the topic of the day, Forgiveness - this is something that gets tossed around a lot here in prison, as you can imagine. Most inmates want to be forgiven for the crimes we've committed, for the pain we've caused. I spent a lot of time seeking that forgiveness, but have recently begun to think that it's unfair to ask anyone to forgive me. Don't misunderstand what I am saying here - I am deeply ashamed of the pain I've caused. I am sorry from the depths of my heart and soul for the responsibility I have in causing so many negative ripples in the world around me. But I feel like seeking forgiveness is very self-centered - it's like asking that MY pain be eased, MY conscience be relieved of it's burden, and I am asking those I've hurt to give me that. I have no right to ask that. Instead, I have the responsibility to become a better man, to see and understand the ramifications of all I've done and to live the best life I possibly can. It is my responsibility to reach out to those around me and try to improve my surroundings - try to create POSITIVE ripples and leave a better imprint on this life than the one I created in my past.

There is no way to repay those I've hurt - there is no rewind, reset, or erase button. But know that from my heart I am deeply sorry to all of you who have endured pain because of my actions.

All I can offer is the man I am today, the strength of my conviction to always strive to be a good person and live as good a life as I possibly can.

To any who would seek my forgiveness I have only this to offer: I judge none, I hold NO hatred or animosity in my heart for anyone. I have an understanding of the path my life has taken and I accept it. We all take the journey and make discoveries along the way. I wish all of you well. I hope everyone finds a sense of peace that allows them to live the best life available to them, let love be the the reason.

Thank you to all of you who have been a part of my life, and to those who I love most thank you for just being you.

Always find reasons to smile - LIFE IS A GIFT!!

Love to all,

Daniel L. Van de Bogart
T-81483 MCI Norfolk
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056


Replies (6) Replies feed

gypsy Posted 11 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I finished the transcription for your post.

I guess I had not considered forgiveness in the way you describe it. I always thought it important to express remorse (only if sincere) to give relief to the person who was hurt by my actions. Thanks for presenting a different perspective.

As someone who has been hurt, and then asked for forgiveness by the person who hurt me, I can clearly see the point you make that the request is self-centered. I like to believe that I can and would forgive anyone for any reason, but when I sense the request for forgiveness is not to relieve my pain, but instead to relieve the guilt/pain of the person who hurt me, it leaves me feeling empty. It makes me weary of my ability to trust (that person).

I like the simplicity of your statement to those you truly love - thanking them for just being themselves. That is a far deeper emotion than an apology could evoke.

Thanks for a beautiful, thought-provoking blog entry!

Spryte Posted 11 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Mr. VandeBogart:

My apologies for being rather harsh in my last reply.  I meant no offense.  My sense of humor has a tendency to be rather facetious and I forget that in text it can come off as sounding rather judgemental.

Forgiveness...you do pick some rather weighty topics don't you?  I'm not sure I've ever forgiven anyone for what I consider to be a major trespass (as opposed to people that accidentally step on your foot for example).  But on the other hand, I don't go around carrying a grudge either.  I just let it go.  It isn't forgiven, it isn't forgotten...but for some reason, I just don't feel it's my place to absolve or punish a person, even when I've been the recipient of the action.  I think that the universe is a great equalizer and eventually everyone will be held accountable for their actions.  You reap what you sow...and if at some point in your life, you begin to sow something worthwhile and for the benefit of those around you, rather than for yourself, I think it begins to pay back the karmic debt.

All things happen for a reason...both good and bad.  It's what you take away from either experience and give back that matters.  It's always a choice to be bitter or to be happy...and I'd rather be happy, so I try not to focus on things that are negative.  I can be serious when I have to be...but it's definitely not my natural state.  

If this reply sounds a bit disjointed it's because I'm writing it in fits and spurts, in between other things.  

Yesterday, I tripped and fell into the pool with all my clothes on.  The fact that it is an aboveground pool and that I had to climb the ladder and remove my shoes BEFORE I tripped and fell into the pool is irrelevant.  It was hot and I was close to passing out.  My fault entirely...only an idiot such as myself would attempt to garden in 109 degree heat.  Although I spent most of the time in the shadiest part of the yard, it didn't matter.  Pretty soon I was sucking water from the hose like a camel and perspiring it just as quickly.  

Once I had that last plant in place...I was a bit dizzy...which explains the tripping...for the most part.

Spryte Posted 11 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Part 2 -

I no longer live in New Hampshire, btw.  Depending on the time of year, you could call the area in which I now reside either heaven or hell.  I can't complain since hell lasts all of three months (give or take a few weeks).  Usually, I don't mind the 120+ degree temps, but today...a mild 110 degrees by comparison...it was stifling.  It's monsoon so unlike spring, fall and winter, the humidity leaps from next to nothing up to 36%...which if you aren't used to, feels very heavy.  I've had nearly seven years to acclimatize to this environment...which is Arizona btw...and to my dismay recently I've discovered myself perfectly at home in air conditioning and shivering violently from cold when I'm outside, freshly out of the pool and the ambient air temperature is past the hundred mark.

If my pool dips below 80 degrees...I stick my toe in and go "Oh brrrrr!!"

Wimp, huh?

Monsoon makes the heat worth it though.  Every late afternoon, like clockwork, the thunderheads will build up on the Mogollan Rim to the northeast and the whole valley will shake with the reverberations of thunder and eye-blinding lightning flashes from every direction.  You hold your face up...sniffing the scent of ozone on the wind.  Will we get rain...will it miss us?  Sometimes you are rewarded for your wishful thinking and a dusty rain will fall at first, washing the air, and as it becomes clean it carries the distinct scents of sagebrush and cattle manure.  :)

If you aren't one of the few blessed in the valley to see rain...and the wind kicks up just right...you are rewarded with a great cloud of sand, rolling in like a tsunami, engulfing trees and buildings within it's yellowish murk.  Just once, I bore the brunt of it...blinking my eyes to keep the dust from getting past the lashes...it was just a little dirt storm.  But then....I tasted the air and okay....it didn't just smell of cattle manure...and that cured my urge to be outdoors.

Most of the time...the storm will head toward another part of the valley leaving you to stand there feeling rather dejected as the thunder rumbles away from you.  It's kind of cool though to think that the valley is bigger than any storm...hah!  

I go home every once in a while...holidays and just to see Toni, get some chicken tenders at the Back Room or real seafood.  One of these days I have to do it in the summer...going back for the holidays just about kills me these days with snow...brrr!  And that time of year....New England is so depressing to look at...all grey, black and white.  I'd rather be back here...where the temperature is perfect, palm trees grace the horizon and everyone carries a gun.  Everyone.  

I'll tell you the story of my adventures at the firing range next time.  


Nicki Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I hold a different perspective on forgiveness. I don't think it is something that 'can' be asked for, but something that must be given willingly in that person's own time.

Having said that... I also don't think it is a gift to the recipient of that forgiveness, but a gift only to the person who forgives. Holding onto feelings of hatred and anger have power over us and to forgive someone is to let go of that negativity and the control it can have over us.

I'm not sure it's forgiveness that anyone sitting in a prison cell really needs; unless we're talking about forgiving themselves. None of us live in a vacuum. All of our actions or reactions are a result of other experiences in our lives and we don't always make the right choices with the tools we're given to maneuver in this world. None of us are perfect and at some point, we hopefully make the right decisions to do all we can to live the best life we can live.

If we concentrated more on taking care of one another, asking "what can I do to help you today" rather than trying to even the score - there would be no need for 'forgiveness' at all.

On another note; from the few of your blogs I've read, you do seem to be handling your sentence with a great deal of grace & self reflection, which is inspiring. Finding a place of peace within that environment shows incredible inner strength & that's something I truly admire. Each and every one of us only really has today. And yes... what IS up with single ply toilet paper!? :D


Daniel L. Van deBogart Posted 11 years, 6 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Nicki Posted 11 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
You certainly paint a different picture to many of the prison stories on this site. Your perspective is beautiful.

I was told by one of my lecturers last year that true intelligence is having the ability to adapt to our environment. On that note... you win the prize for being the most intelligent person I have encountered today.

When I first came to this site, what I was hoping to find was light within the darkness, and that is what this post conveys. Thank you for showing us that beauty can be found anywhere, if we just take the time to look :)

Take care.


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