“Someday this upside-down world will be turned right side up. Nothing in all eternity will turn it back again. If we are wise, we will use our brief lives on earth positioning ourselves for the turn.” _ Randy Alcorn.
As I sit down to write, one quarter of the world’s population is under a stay-at-home order by their governments in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. This order has also been issued in Polk County Texas, where Livingston is located. As of March 28th 2020, all residents are ordered to stay at home.
This means that most of Europe and much of the USA are staying at home living under lockdown conditions, meanwhile life at Polunsky Unit remains the same. We continue to have recreation, showers, hot meals and in short the normal daily routine here. This reality causes my life to have a dream like quality. It’s business as usual on Texas death row while the outside, free world is on lockdown while coronavirus rages. This moment in our lives makes me think about the fact that everything has been turned on its head and nothing will ever be the same again.
I know that right now everyone in the world is being affected by the covid-19 pandemic and for me it is difficult not to worry and allow anxiety and fear overwhelm me. I have been following the coronavirus since mid-February and it seems that my own worst fears seem to be coming true. Friends all across Europe are being affected by the coronavirus. Even our correspondence is being affected as some mail delivery is being shortened to just a few days a week in France and even suspended in the UK. That increases the stress and anxiety for me because I do not know if or when my letters will reach loved ones in different countries. What makes it surreal for me is continuing to hear the news reports coming in from around the world on my radio and not witnessing it through television or the internet. It’s disconcerting to hear about hundreds of people dying in Italy, Spain, France and the UK, per day and not knowing if someone I am connected to is being affected. It causes much anxiety and worry for me here and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Right now that’s the situation I’m dealing with and I can do is try to stay calm and at peace, not allowing the uncertainties in the world to overwhelm me.
“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle – some things are within our control and some are not.” _ Epictetus.
One thing I know about through personal experience is making it through adversity. When things are difficult, the first thing we have to do is break down our situation into processable chunks. Right now we’re all looking at an extended lock-down/stay-at-home order situation. If we’re fortunate, it will be a month but it could last longer. That’s just the way it is. That fact in our lives can be overwhelming if we start to think about how we’re going to make it through those 4, 6, 8 or even 12 weeks on lock-down. We’ll lose the war before the first battle is ever fought, as the situation will overwhelm us. Instead of that, our focus needs be on making it through today. It needs to be on putting one foot in front of the other as we walk through the fire that is the coronavirus situation. If we cannot focus on making it to the end of the day, then we must focus on making it through the next hour. Because if we feel overwhelmed and don’t thing we can make it to the end of today, then we have to break it down to smaller pieces. Make it through the next hour, if things are really bad, making it through to the next breath. Because I promise you, as long as you have breath, you have hope and things will get better, we will make it through this moment of insanity.
“Cultivate love. Sow the seeds of love in all hearts. Shower love on desert sands, let the green shoots, lovely flowers, sweet harvest of nectar, of joy, peace and bliss be earned by every being. That is my wish, my mission, my vow.” _ Baba Sai.
In times such as these, it is such a blessing to be able to maintain a sense of peace within us, allowing this to be the base from which we operate. For me, I calm myself down through deep breathing with my eyes closed, focusing on gratitude and all the blessing for which I am thankful.
It’s hard to be overwhelmed when you can shift your perspective through peace, gratitude, and most importantly, love. If we can try to focus on love and spreading it in those near us through acts of kindness, then the world around us will me a much more joyful place. Because even in the middle of a world wide catastrophe, if we ca focus on peace, love and being kind along with gratitude, that’s enough to carry you through. If it has carried me through decades of life on Texas death row, it can see you through whatever comes your way in the next month or two.
Try living in the moment, stringing one breath, one hour, one day together with another. If you can do that, before you know it, you’ll have three or four good days put together. Then a week, then two weeks, and before you know it, you’ll have worked yourself out of that place of stress, anxiety and fear into a place of strength. One filled with peace, gratitude, love and kindness as your foundation, and that is a wonderful place to live. And maybe we can position ourselves to be ready for the new right-side up world that is on its way to us.
I want everyone across the world to know that I think of you pray for you sending out positive healing energy, asking our Lord to give you the love, strength and courage to make it through what you’re going through right now. May you be blessed and know that if you think no one loves you, I love you! Stay safe, be well and cherish your loved ones now more than ever.
LOVE, PEACE, HOPE and STRONG HEALTH TOO!
Charles D. Flores _ N° 999299
Polunsky Unit Texas death row.