TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS _ April 1st 2021
“ We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize we only have one.”
_ Tom Hiddleston.
Today began like every other day, after 7 hours of sleep I was up to meet the struggle head on. What has become normal and expected happened to us on Polunsky Unit. It goes like this : the officials test for Covid19, they find a very high number of positive results, and they put us on emergency medical lockdown. We stay on medical lockdown for two weeks, they try to get back to what used to be our normal routine: recreation, showers and daily hot meals. Then they will test us again, find more positive results, and back on lockdown we go. We’ve just come off the last medical lockdown and I’ve had recreation two days in a row. When I started my morning I took note of a prisoner in the day-room for recreation, then the guards came and put him back in his cell before his 2 hours recreation period was over. I knew what happened, there are not enough guards to operate Texas death row as intended, so they pull off the guards from each pod, which leaves only one guard staffing the housing area. So, no more showers, no more recreation, no more anything. This is normal operating procedure to the point where I have accepted it, but it’s interesting how mind/ego tries to buck against my control. You see, all we get are recreation and showers, so when it is cancelled, it feels like they are stealing from us.
As I prepared for my daily exercise, I took time to read from my daily devotional, hopefully putting a positive theme into my head to take into my meditation practice after exercise. Today’s message recounted an incident the author experiences while riding the train, sitting next to a stranger, and in-between stops, the stranger asks: “what are you doing about the snakes in your attic?”
The author replied : “Me? I don’t have snakes in my attic.”
The stranger answered: “Honey, sure you do. Everybody’s got them. They slither and slide, draining the life out of you.”
What a perfect way to describe the daily battle we wage in our head against the negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative acts we engage in as a result of having them snakes slithering and sliding in our hearts and minds. In this age of Covid19, where everyone and everything is affected in life across the world, it’s so easy to let the snakes take control. Have you ever watched a snake? They move silently, almost without notice, one second you see them, the the next they’re gone.
So are our mind/ego based reactions that we take when these lower self impulses cause us to act out. Everyone is dealing with it at this point in the pandemic. We’re all weary of dealing with Covid19, frustrated, anxious, stressed out, and that is exactly when mind/ego pounced on us, high-jacking our person, and before you know it you’ve lost control. We say or do something that only makes things worse, and when the Presence that is US manages to regain control, we find ourselves in a ditch, where mind/ego wrecked us into, or worse: in the country jail with criminal charges on us!
One of the most difficult things I had to do in 2020 was accepting the fact that everyone in the world was screwed to some degree, and there was nothing we could do about it until Covid19 was first controlled, then eliminated. It took me 10 months to do this, and that was a long drawn out battle, but thankfully, I won the war. So today, when I saw that Covid19 was once again slithering its way into my daily life, I did not for one second allow myself to indulge in the negative. I adapted on the spot, actually giving thanks for a day to write and do some things I was not able to complete yesterday. And in this manner poured cool water on the tiny flame those snakes were trying to start inside of me, trying to provoke a negative reaction.
“We can only acquire Shanti (peace) when we know we are the embodiment of Shanti! Ashanti (restlessness) is something that possesses us like a phobia which has no grounding. Shake it of! You are free! It is the role that is tragic, not the actor. Remind yourself that this is a play and you are playing the role of a tragic hero! Sage Narada learned this and his equanimity was never again disturbed.” _ Baba Saï.
I remember when I first began my spiritual journey, one of the first self-help/spiritual texts I read was a book titled “The four agreements”, a book of Toltec wisdom by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this book, he spoke of us all being the main actor in our own motion picture, and our lives is the role we’ve been given. Understanding this absolute truth has helped me along my journey. The character we play in this epic saga that is our life, no matter how tragic the role is, it is not us! We’re just the actor, we can have as much peace as we dare to have if we accept we’re the embodiment of peace. Restlessness, anxiety, fear, stress, etc., only serve as the ways and means by which the snakes gain control, and because we want the excuses victimhood gives us, we refuse to accept what is happening in our lives.
It was interesting, when recreation was cancelled, the guards even had death row prisoners in the single men showers. These men stayed stranded in the showers for over 2 hours. And believe me, when you are locked in a shower the size of a closet in an apartment for 2 hours, and you know the guards know you are locked in the shower but only show indifference to your predicament, these snakes get slithering and sliding! You begin to lose grip of your self control and before you know it, you are yelling at the guards to come get you out of the damn shower! You’re kicking the metal door, Boom! Boom! Boom! Demonstrating the pain and trauma you are subjected to by being locked in such a cramped space. How do I know? Because snakes have had me doing that more than a few times in my 20 years on Texas death row.
In a moment of insanity, all I could do was give thanks that it was not me locked inside the shower, and be grateful that I have accepted this new reality and live my life on my own schedule. If it looks fishy, like the guard working the pod that day is a member of the goon squad that gets called to run off and assault some other prisoner who is acting out, then I do not go to shower! Or I see the guards are super lazy, I do not go the shower for fear I am left in there for an hour or two while they get lost somewhere. I have water inside my cell and I bathe when I want to, thereby eliminating the possibility of the slithering snakes getting ahold of me.
“Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.” _ Marcel Morin
I think about my life when I fist was sent to death row. I was not a happy camper at all. But as I began to learn who and what I was, I understood that for me, there was a need to believe in God. Not in a wistfully wishing upon a star kind of way. No, in a real, live and active way, believing in a higher power and through this belief, having faith and hope that the character I was cast to play in the movie that is my life does not meet his end on Texas death row. In the beginning I did not know Her voice, so I resisted Her efforts to lead me. But as time went on, I grew accustomed to Her presence in my life and I learned to recognize and trust Her voice. Today, I follow Her and allow Her to lead me because I have faith that She will not lead me astray. And that one day soon I will be led out of this new age death camp, into freedom where it is always sunny. In the meantime I do my part by holding peace in my heart, accepting all that comes my way with an “OK, that’s happened. It sucked, what next?” kind of attitude. In this way I maintain control and do all I can do rid my attic of those wicked snakes! And if I can do that here, you can do it from where you are!
OM SHANTI! SHANTI! SHANTI!