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Today I was asked a question by a younger inmate about patience and tolerance. After talking to him I felt compelled to write something about that and what it means to me. The conversation that I had with this young guy was one that I needed as I have been thinking a lot about the things that I am doing here in terms of programs. At times it is as if some of these guys don’t get it and I understand that, yet it is still sad to witness it.

The other day an old friend of mine, who is a violator and left me to go home a few years ago, came back into the system. The last time that I saw him he was fighting for his life. He had gotten stabbed over a pair of shoes. I would walk and talk to him about the choices and decisions that he was making and he would feign interest. I used to tell him that the things that he was getting into didn’t lead any where and that the guys that he was befriending were no good. Well it took him to almost lose his life to get the point yet that wasn’t enough to stop him from going out and getting back involved in the streets. Therefore he is back here.

When I first saw him we talked for a few before he told me of the after effects of that day, the day that he was stabbed. While he was being cuffed to be taken to medical…(pause here) he was stabbed and bleeding yet he was cuffed behind his back and made to walk to the medical building wth!!…he started to get short winded. What he didn’t know was that his lung was punctured. When he got to medical he was vomiting blood and they had to start cutting him on the spot to put a tube in him to drain the blood. By the time that he got to the hospital he was unconscious and when he woke up he was without one lung.

What does this have to do with the conversation that I had today? A lot. Lately I have been asking myself what does all of this stuff mean. I mean here is guy that lost a lung and almost his life. A guy that knew right from wrong and had the right people in his ear to help guide him yet that wasn’t enough. Last week a bus of inmates arrived here. There were 26 on this bus and out of the 26 guys there were 16 violators. Over half of them are repeat offenders. That is a sad thing when one thinks about it. So when this young kid came to me and asks me, “Talib, teach me something right now,” the only thing that I could come up with is patience.

What i explained to him was that patience is obtained through hardship, trials and tribulations. When we can learn to not look at the “challenges” of life but to look for the lessons that come through the hardships, trials and tribulations, we will truly understand what it means to be patient. Patience doesn’t come without a price yet it is one of the most rewarding things to have acquired in this journey called life. Patience is the thing that is between a good and a bad decision, the thing that sits on top of the prisons walls. When one becomes impatient to the trials of life outside these walls it becomes easy to make choices that lead back to the penitentiary. This is what i explained to this young guy tonight. The importance of patience. Through that conversation it was if I was talking to myself as i needed to hear the same thing. Whether one gets it or not is not the main issue as I still must be patient in what I do, helping others.

Had it not been for this conversation today I may not have heard what I need to hear to move ahead in life. That it is going to be important for me to be patient and tolerant as I face the challenges of a new world come this summer. A world that I left a teenager and am coming back to as a man. I am going to have to be patient with myself and ask those around me to be patient with me. I am going to have to be tolerant of others as I ask them to be tolerant of me. This is part of what it takes to survive out there in society, especially after 20 years of incarceration. So the lesson today for me is to find patience even in what seems to be the most hopeless and difficult situations in life. That it a jewel!

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