As I walked the yard today with my ear buds in and some music playing… I was reminiscing on the old days and looking around, thinking about how much everything has changed. The thing is… you still got the buildings and fences that have always been there and unless something drastic happens, you’ll always have an abundance of people to fill this place. On the surface it all still resembles the yards and prisons, of years past. But, that’s where it ends…

The entire feeling of the yards, the behaviors and the attitudes are almost a foreign entity, at times. Everything is more watered down, more “disappointing”, more petty and just conformed to… it’s like we’re just EXISTING sometimes. Guys aren’t living; aren’t thriving and; aren’t striving for something more or something better, for themselves or for the others around them.

Let me clear the perspective some, ‘cuz this is the thing… don’t get me wrong, there are some in here who are doing great things and continuously striving to better themselves. Through furthering their education, legal work or making change. But, for the most part these guys are too focused on self (negatively), on getting high, on just being worthless and in the way. I mean, between how the system has continued to take from us – those things that allowed our independence and humanity – and what we have taken from ourselves through drug abuse and lack of pride and respect (for ourselves or each other)… this culture and mentality is like a faded shadow of itself.

As I was thinking about this, I went back and read an email from an old friend today and read his words that so closely echoed my own. It was both intense AND disheartening, to see such similar sentiments regarding the comparison of the past with the current times and the people from both. This gave me a feeling that someone else understands what I’m seeing and it legitimized what I was thinking and feeling. Then, it also brought about another disturbing realization, that this is just how it is in prison and in the streets… across the board! Then it started to sink in that I’m just doomed to be stuck in this place, like the generations before… looking at those who follow us through disappointed eyes. Looking back at a time, that we can no more get back than we can get back the last minute, day or year!

So now I sit here and look back to a day when our word and our characters, were what defined us. Where our integrity and loyalty were worn like a badge of honor… these things have become conversations about those good ol’ days, that these youngsters look at like something they’ve seen in a gangster movie or read in a hood novel… but rarely see around them anymore. I mean, honestly there are times that I’ve even questioned whether things were really like that or something we wanted to see? And then those generations, that came before us were in this same situation having these same thoughts? Is this the cycle that all generations go through, just to realize that we will never see those days or those types of characters again? God, that is depressing!!

So, as I walk around and look at what things are and what they have become… realizing what all we’ve lost… I begin to feel like my way of thinking, my character and all those principals and values that I’ve always held on to so tightly are becoming relics of the past. Things that won’t be recognizable to future generations… who knows, cuz these are the same things I always heard coming up. How our generation watered down and ruined the last one. And you could see how disappointed and miserable they were with what had become.

I guess that the one real constant, in this whole thing, is that these feelings and these moments of reflection will coninue to cycle through every generation to follow. The looking back and wishing we could find and relive those times again with those same people… who now have become a disappointment, for one reason or another! I can only hope, that this cycle will one day be broken and we can get back to having (or at least seeking out) some substance and meaning in our lives… by the majority… no matter what your social status or legal status! But, if for nothing else, it still makes for good movies and fiction!!

By Michael Bowman

Source of Featured Image: Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP, File

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