It was beyond a blessing to celebrate my 34th birthday. While prison is not the most utopian place for such a celebration a person must be mind of matter and find ways to uplift his spirit in such adverse surroundings.
For many prisoners it is their thinking that when an inmate takes joy in eating a holiday meal or doing something special for his birthday that it is something “institutionalized” about his actions. It is felt that these things are done to numb the reality of prison life. And while for some that may be true, it doesn’t ring true for me.
Why? The reason why it doesn’t is because I am a person that has done just about everything in the book worthy of resistance on the inside (short of violent attacks on staff). Therefore, I am a person that has become detached to materialistic things or token things they throw us for behaviour modification. I can do without them just as much as I get them (on the rare occasions). Thus, I have never allowed such comments to change my actions, attitudes or behaviours. What I do is what I do for higher purposes regardless of who understands them or knows them.
For example, on my birthday I had been saving my pennies up for about 2 months. I sacrificed certain days for this day. And I was able to cook a big meal for those around me and provide sodas and goodies. I understand that there are some guys around me that cannot afford to buy sodas on a regular basis. They live off the bare necessities which are not things like soda. A 30c strawberry soda is 2 bars of soap that a person needs to stay hygiened up. And YES- what I just said is a reality here (especially in a state like Texas that doesn’t pay for your labour, but charges you for everything else [like medical appointments]). So, my celebration became others.
One young guy came up to me and exclaimed how he wished his birthday (a month ago) was like this, but he smiled and said- “I felt like this was my birthday” and that made me smile and let me know that what was in my heart for my birthday (to share with others this benefit I have). A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you the rose, feel me?
And so it was a beautiful day. One day I will be celebrating a birthday in Morocco or Spain or somewhere far from here and I’ll reflect on these times. Perhaps I may have more now that I have In the future, but it will be a time to reflect and remember how I felt. I’ll carry it then as I carry it now. And on that note I’ll say this about sharing and I will let it stay with me for birthdays and more….
The best thing to give your enemy is forgiveness;
To an opponent, tolerance;
To a friend, your heart;
To all men, charity;
To your self, respect;
To your child, a good example;
To your father, deference;
To your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you