The Chaos Of A Life Lived On The Edge

Jim - Sykesville, Maryland
Entered on April 28, 2005
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, setbacks
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I don’t know what I truly believe in. Maybe that is why I reside where I do — a federal prison camp.

I listened to the first reborn airing of “I truly believe” and was moved to my core by the words of the Chilean woman. I walk a grassy path surrounding the prison compound each day listening to NPR’s “All Things Considered” trying to stay in tune with a world that I am currently unable to participate in. A prisoner that I respect very much told me, “Jim, you’re going to have a lot of time to reflect, and you will, you will reflect.” What I have come to find out is that the reflection is a direct activity to uncover what you truly believe in.

The author from Chile spoke of her belief in giving, the most admirable belief I can fathom. This belief I would like to mirror, but I have been taking so long that my nature may not align. My actions may betray my thoughts through some sort of morbid instinct. The obsessive-compulsive curse that thrives within me and feeds on pure selfishness may override logical peaceful thought.

At 29, I am still searching for what I truly believe in and I will continue to look at the world honestly in order to find it. I am in a situation where this question, “What do you truly believe in” will ring in my ears as I spend each day furiously scrambling for answers — answers that could set my mind free.

I deeply believe in some people. My wife is the center of me, the solid foundation for which I build my future. I love her with everything I have, as I write in weekly letters. My mother would love me if I were Hitler, and for that unconditional love, I have no choice but to believe in her just as strongly.

I believe in giving, but can I follow through with the actual gifts? I believe in love, but have seen it smashed so many times that I fear its loss. Most people I have believed in have let me down, and all my fast-living mottos have been proven unacceptable by society.

I had a very good childhood and grew up as an all-American kid. I do not believe that my status as a convicted felon can be blamed on anyone or some dark black secret from my past.

My parents were divorced when I was three or four, and I inherited a step-father that treated me as his own. My stepfather adopted me at the age of 12 after my real father had passed. My revised set of parents raised me in a loving environment and sent me off to college as a successful student-athlete. Their beliefs were not cohesive, but I think that I extracted the best from both of them. My stepfather respects hard work, “put in what you expect to get out.” He loves sports and the attitude of leaving it all on the field. My mother believes in education, and the ever-present saying, “You can do anything if you just put your mind to it.” Boy, if she only knew.

My real (biological) father gave me his genetics: his addictive tendencies and his ability to tan well. My genes may provide a good excuse for my current residence, but the judge doesn’t listen to excuses. My biological father drank and smoked himself to a massive heart-attack at the young age of 52. He left me with no wise sayings or beliefs, but I do remember loving kisses goodnight.

Now I stand naked, stripped of all that has gotten me here, embracing the enduring love of my family and pondering all the questions of life. Where do I stand with God, and do I even know him? How do I step outside of myself and honestly evaluate the person that I am? How can I make myself a better person every day? These questions are pushing me towards answers that are helping me to develop an evolved belief system that will bring me to a higher state of consciousness throughout my next 29 years.

I collect reflection upon reflection trying to identify my true beliefs. They are there somewhere, buried in the chaos of a life lived on the edge. The beliefs instilled in me by the endless love and giving of others will push its way to the surface and allow me to walk away from here with lots to believe in.