“Peace is all around us – in the world and in nature – and within us – In our bodies, and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.” –Thich Nhat Hanh.
For the past ten years the men on Texas death row have been locked down and shook down every ninety days. A lockdown is when the guards lock everyone in their cells; and a shakedown is their search of the prison grounds for contraband. This search also includes death row prisoner’s cells and their bodies. Contraband is whatever they feel like we should not have which changes on a daily basis. Sometimes we breeze right through this part of our death row experience losing nothing — and other times the guards come in on a search and destroy mission and we lose a lot.
Every ninety days we are subjected to this process and most likely in the next two or three weeks we’ll wake up to lockdown — no recreation or showers and we’ll know — they’re coming to shakedown It might be that day or we might be the last housing area to be shook down, we have no idea when it might happen. And that’s u intentional these devils use the unknown to control us knowing that if the individual who is incarcerated can be kept in a bewildered state – confused, anxious and afraid he’s incapable of rational thought. I think back to my early years of being locked in a solitary call on Texas death row for a crime I am innocent of, and I see how I used to deal with such occurrences in my life. I would become upset – I’d get angry. I I’ve always had an issue with anger and fifteen years ago I was much less informed and mature in regard to who I was, what my triggers were, and how to maintain control of myself. Back then, there were times when I’d get in trouble for bucking [refusing to follow] the rules after losing control of my anger and it was because of the intentional situations I was put in on Texas death row. And a large helping of not knowing what might happen to me next. It’s interesting how things work here, the top dogs who are in charge of Texas death row, head warden, assistant warden, death row warden etc., they seem to come and stay for a few years then move up the ladder. So it feels like we’re always dealing with a new guy in charge because the last one to come through has flown out the revolving door with a promotion and on to bigger: and better things. As I write this we’re dealing with a new regime and with new heads in charge of this evil little place called Texas death row come new little rules. They’re petty and not worth talking about] but they have one major effect on all the guys here — they increase the stress level.
Right now most of us are thinking about the pending lockdown and what it might be like this time around. Prisoners on Texas death row are limited to the amount of personal property they can have and if your are not in compliance with the rules they will decide what you keep and what you lose what is that like you might wonder? Imagine you being limited to fitting everything you own in your closet. Personal belongings – clothes, shoes, books, computers, cleaning supplies, hygiene items [soap toothpaste shampoo etc] photos, dishes ~ everything! And what does not fit in the closet the devils take from you. That’s what it’s like and believe me it’s not a pleasant feeling to have to throw away things you value, like mail from family and friends, books, photos. But that’s the way it is and we deal with it the easy way – following the rules and allowing them to limit our things we possess and be shookdown; or the hard way. which is refusing to participate in any of it and likely being sprayed with tear gas then stripped naked and taken out the cell on a different pod/housing area where they men who’ve gotten in trouble are kept. Here of late I’ve found myself thinking about this insanity and how I have changed and am better able to cope with it. First of all I rarely get angry anymore and when I do it’s usually with some one I’m supposed to love and who loves me – because I refuse on to allow these devils in this new age death camp to have control over me. And I I will be forever grateful to the precious friends who helped my find the path to spiritual enlightenment which included learning how to control myself through prayer, meditation etc.. Because without this critical spiritual practice I now have and use I’d be a guy who’s almost fifty years old acting like he’s twenty—eight! And I cringe at that thought – because I see guys living that life here on a daily basis. One of the secrets about spiritual practice is once you learn it they can never take it from you.
It’s not a book, an extra t-shirt or a bag of chips these devils can snatch away from you. No, this precious part of your life is now a piece of you it’s inside of you and as long as you have breath you will possess it. And what has spiritual practice done for me? It’s helped me realize that it’s okay to be afraid and not know everything. That in my imperfection I am perfect and I must continue to travel on this pad path that I’ve committed myself to and see the journey to its end. That being impulsive is deadly and having a short temper only gives control of myself to my enemy and most importantly the kingdom of heaven is within me. And peace is all around me in the free world on Texas death row. when I go outside for recreation it’s in the fresh air I breath and in the sun and blue skies I see. It’s in my body and in my spirit and in all those I know and love. And having found the key to the door that leads to the realm where peace resides I can access it at will and bask in peace. No matter how insane the world is here or there, being on lockdown or even shookdown twice; (Which happened in December) or all the other crazy possibilities that might happen at a moments notice. I can and will have peace when I need it most. Because it’s not just a matter of faith and belief. it’s a matter of practice as well.
You have to use the key to the door where peace resides and the more you do the more peace you will feel!
LOVE PEACE HOPE!
Charles D. Flores No:999299
Texas death row.
February 17, 2019.