“As we go through life and grow we create a character we go out into the world as. we are protected and saved by this character, we make our livelihood with this character and more. One day we will wake up and realize we no longer need that character and at that point we must be willing to let character go — let it die. We have gained enough wisdom through life’s experiences that we realize, ‘I am enough’.”
CHARACTERS AND PERSONAS. A few weeks ago I was listening to a morning radio program and heard an interview with the actor, will Smith in which he shared the above quote that I paraphrase. when I heard him share this nugget of wisdom I knew it was an absolute truth and was impressed with how it applied to my life and to just about everyone I know. I think back to my childhood and how I was raised. I was born and raised in Texas into a latino family. Being Texan is in itself an issue as it’s expected for boys
to grow up strong and show no weakness, never cry! Be tuff! Add the Mexican-American heritage to the mix where machismo is instilled into male children and we have the unhealthy environment in which I grew up in. My older brothers used to ruff house with me teaching me how to fight and wrestle, their idea of “tuffening me up”, which I took to very well. By the time I was a teenager I excelled in my tuff guy character I’d created which now also included the party lifestyle – drugs and alcohol and an excessive amount of communicating through violence. When I reached adulthood no one could tell me anything, not even the police! This was a huge factor in my being sent to Texas death row. THE FALL. when I got to Texas death row I was 29 years old and my tuff guy character served me well. In fact I was so good at playing the role of a tuff guy that I lost my true self in the character for years. Because in prison and on death row the whole respect/disrespect thing is huge and again I, unfortunately excelled at this type of insanity. while I played my character going out into the community I was incarcerated in on Texas death row showing everyone I was the strong silent type, not to be disrespected etc., I was suffering inside. I was grieving and in pain, crying for all I’d lost and for what was happening in my life, wondering how did it go so far and get so insane? I had no idea really. “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who
you were meant to be in the first place.”–unknown.
THE VALLEY. Around 2010, I began to realize that at all costs I needed to find a way to control myself, my thoughts, my actions, and my way of living because the current mode of operation was causing me too much suffering, grief and heartache. I had hit the bottom and knew it was figure out what was happening or perish, and to die deaf, dumb, and blind was not something I was willing to do. And like the old saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining. So it was with suffering, pain, grief and heartache. They are our most persuasive teachers and have taught me some of life’s most important lessons. I began to learn basic coping skill and began to use them on a daily basis, one of the most important and effective was spiritual practice/meditation, prayer and visualization. That’s where all the answers were to be found. All I had to do was go within the kingdom of heaven and find them. As I began the work on myself I began to learn other things that suffering was willing to teach me, like gratitude and living each day giving thanks for all the blessings that come my way. I learned wisdom, the kind of thing you cannot learn from books; lessons that only a place like Texas death row could teach a hard headed stubborn man like me. And I learned humility. I learned that I needed others to survive and that there were situations where I could not save myself.
THE RISE. As I continued to work through my seasons of suffering I started to learn about pride and ego and how that tuff guy character was not who I really was.
No, I am the Awareness that recognizes I’m not that persona. This was critical for me because once you come to that kind of realization you will never be the same. Even if you willingly allow yourself to do things the character you’ve created would have you do, you know that’s not really you. And if you are honest with yourself you will one day reach the point in your journey, that you will know that the character is not you and is in fact preventing you from coming into the fullness of your being. From becoming the person you were destined to be: a kind, compassionate and sensitive soul. And that this True Self is enough; I am enough. Sure, I can still protect myself and if need be protect my loved ones but I’m no longer caught up in that insanity of communicating through violence. And in fact I’m actively searching for and learning new methods of communication. And that respect and disrespect is nothing but an ego trip that causes nothing but continued grief, heartache and pain. These kinds of critical life lessons can only he learned through personal experience and as I grow I continue to gain wisdom and understand that once again, we’re all going through what we’re going through to get to where we’re going and the character that got me here has served its purpose and it’s time to let it go. I have at last reached the point in life that I understand in all things I am enough, and I’m now willing to let go of what I want people to think who I am. These are the things that a solitary confinement cell on death row has taught me lessons I don’t think I could have learned elsewhere. And now that these things have become clear I am grateful for the experience. Because I’m closer than ever to becoming the person I was destined to he in the first place having stripped away all that wasn’t truly me. And having unbecome all of this I can now present my true self to the world on Texas death row and the world outside these walls and know that I am enough!
LOVE PEACE HOPE & LAUGHTER!
Charles D. Flores No:999299
Texas Death Row
January 24th , 2020.