My long standing pp has written the following, and would be more than happy for anyone here to forward/share it with their ppl's. Even if the overall message gives just one person hope that they can achieve something whilst enduring incarceration, then it's worth sharing. I am really proud of him on so many levels, as he's been locked away for 26 yrs and only recently been able to identify with himself as being a very worthwhile person.
I began realizing I was hurting less and less. I was still feeling bouts of depression and self-pity, but I didn't get discouraged. I kept my mind firmly on my legal studies. I had made what was, I am sure, the most valuable discovery I shall ever make in my entire life. I had learned that we can choose our thoughts and by choosing our thoughts we can, to a large extent, control whether we are happy or unhappy.
I felt a sense of panic when my segregation time ended, thought. What would I think about now? What would I do? The minute I was released back into general population with all the other prisoners I requested to be placed on law library call-out and after a few times of showing up an old friend came to my rescue. He suggested that I enroll in a legal correspondence course. I decided to take the hardest paralegal course available because I thought it would force me to do a lot of interesting reading which would occupy my mind.
To my amazement, I discovered I was able to comprehend the fundamentals of effective arguments to the principles, structures, and assumptions that underlie our complex legal system. My brain was now working overtime. It had never occurred to me that I could ever become a certified paralegal while in prison, but the law librarian assured me this was possible and encouraged me to take the legal courses I was contemplating, which I did. By the third month I was carrying a full-time course load. A year later I completed the curriculum and graduated with honors. I was now a certified paralegal and began encouraging and teaching others how to perfect their criminal appeals. Imagine me, the poor little Mexican boy, teaching American legal studies to other inmates, but I think I am doing well, and I love this line of work. I am now contemplating beginning work towards an associates degree in criminal justice.
My almost primitive effort to keep myself sane by thinking happy thoughts instead of painful ones in my head led to another real turning point in my life. It caused me to literally stumble into self-education, which is now leading me to have a career instead of a job.
My hope is that maybe someone will be feeling a little down and will read what I have written and say, well, look how bad things were for him and then see how much better they got.
I'll close with this quote from Plato: "Our eyes can be turned toward the light as well as toward the dark . . . we all have eyes, though we do not know where to look."