When I came to prison over 12 years ago I felt like my life was over! I was 24 years old and facing a minimum of 20 years in prison. When the officer placed those cold, steel handcuffs on my wrists, I saw a lifetime of dreams, hopes, and memories instantly fade into oblivion — for they had vanished in that fateful moment.
As time went on, however, and the initial shock began to wane and acceptance set in, I felt a new-found sense of relief that I could do this; that contrary to my initial thoughts of doom and gloom for the foreseeable future, this wasn’t the absolute worse situation I could be in. And instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I chose to put my focus on what I did have, which was my health, family, sanity, and much more. This gave me a sense of hope and stability in the midst of my darkest hour.
While serving this sentence, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pursue a higher education. I’ve been able to, without distraction, reassess my life and what I wanted to do with it; to explore what I wanted to do for a career — something that would add meaning and purpose to my life, which is something I’d never thought about prior to this period. As a result, ironically, I have discovered my life’s passion and purpose that I didn’t even know I had while in prison. I’ve found a sense of direction and a clearly defined path while in a confined setting — a prison cell. It appears to me that this ordeal was necessary to bring about a keen sense of awareness, self discovery, and a focus on my future that I’d not known before this. Of course, in the beginning, I could not see this at all, not even a little bit. All I could see and feel was despair and sorrow over what I’d made of my life.
When we envision ourselves leading a certain life and living out our dreams and goals, then it all goes awry in an instant and we’re left scrambling to make sense of it all, we are left with nothing to believe other than our lives have fallen apart. Everything we had hoped for was now gone. But if we leave ourselves open to learn, grow, and self-reflect in these moments of extreme turmoil, we do ourselves a service that will have an impact for a lifetime. It is in those moments and periods in our lives that we are compelled to introspect and analyze our past thoughts, behaviors, and motives and endeavor to know why. Why did we think certain things, do certain things, and conduct ourselves in these ways for so many years? We are able to honestly assess these areas of our lives and piece together why and how we ended up where we are. It is only here that we come to a place of enlightenment and, hopefully, motivation to change our foundational thought processes, ambitions, and trajectory of our lives.
Regardless of what you believe in terms of spirituality, divinity, or simply why things happen the way they do, it is irrefutable that humans have time and again found meaning and purpose in their most adverse circumstances. It is here that we find a reason to look within and search ourselves internally for something greater, something deeper, even if we don’t know what we’re looking for. But what usually happens is we end up surprising ourselves with what we find and how it adds immeasurable substance and fulfillment to our lives. The outcome is far different than what we could see when our lives became in disarray and seemed to be falling apart.
Perhaps we can’t make sense of everything that happens in our lives, especially when something like prison happens and afflicts children, wives, parents, and families of all kinds. All we see initially is the fact that our loved ones are unreachable and will be for many years in most cases. But if we are not careful and vigilant, we’ll miss the primary lesson and purpose we are to take from it all — both the incarcerated and the free. We all stand to learn from adversity; it’s up to us what we learn and to what extent that learning will be. The key thing to remember through it all, though, is when disaster strikes and all of a sudden life becomes chaotic beyond comprehension, our lives are not falling apart — it’s merely falling into place.
Martin Lockett is serving a 17 1/2 year sentence for a tragic car accident. Martin has substantially turned his life around by completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, published his first book and is currently working on his Masters in Psychology. Martin plans to counsel at risk youth when he is released. He hopes his insight, thoughts and experiences from prison will help those who have a loved one incarcerated or someone facing prison time.
To read more about Martin, CLICK HERE
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