Prison Safe?

Actor Robert Downey Jr. once said “Prison is actually the safest place on Earth.” in an interview after having done some time there. I remember thinking “Well that’s a strange thing to say.” When someone says something like that it kind of sticks with you. “Why would he say something like that?”,” What does he mean?” I gave it serious thought.

In time I started to realize not one, but multiple potential truths in that statement. I say “potential” because having not “done time” myself, I can only speculate.

The first one is the obvious one. In prison not only is the world safe from the inmates, but the inmates are safe from people in the outside world. One can’t just walk ….. or even break into prison. In fact, even internally the inmates are even pretty safe from each other (depending on the prison). Everyone is in their own individual cell. Isolated, and nothing is coming through those bars. The only potential threat is a prison guard.

The second safety that prison offers is not so obvious, and perhaps not so appreciated (or even realized) until its had. That is, safety from societal influence. No advertisements telling you what to buy. No politicians telling you what to think. No lies. No distraction, no diversion from focusing on self. Of course there are also limited resources for one to have any personal growth anyway ….. so the lack of distraction may be irrelevant.

The third is the safety from being forced to be part of the system. Get up, go to work, buy a house, pay bills. There are very few options away from this pattern in the outside world, and all arrows (influences) point to this lifestyle.

Fourth, safety from the mental trappings created by the above violators. When one is not bogged down by the lies, influences, and grind of living in the outside world, in time they will find their individuality and creativity. The greater possibilities of their growth. If only prison had the resources to pursue that.

I would consider ex prison inmates ripe for a minimalist life in the outside world.

No doubt RDJ gained perspective enough through his time in prison to develop a skill of safeguarding himself from bad external influences. That would definitely help with a drug addiction. 


New Year, New Goals

Here we go again. It is time to start the year with the most important task. The task that is the jumping off point for the year. The catalyst for things to come. And the task is to sit down, consider, and list our goals for the year.

I can’t stress enough the importance of this task. And I really mean it when I say we have to clear our surroundings of any distraction, clear our minds of any current stresses and distractions, sit down, do not feel hurried, and consider our goals for the year. However long it takes.

It’s important that we write these goals down. On a pad, a tablet, a white board, whatever. Important that we keep this list and refer to it often as a constant reminder. You see ……. our goals are not real to us until we write them down. Simply remembering them makes them somehow fictitious, and easier to ignore.

During this same “sit down” it is also wise to outline a plan for attaining these goals, or at the very least, write down some initial steps.

These goals don’t have to be grand. They can range anywhere from “Visit my sick aunt once a month”, to “Learn how to roller skate”, to “Lose 50 pounds.”

Completing this task is best way to go into (or start) the new year, acting as a springboard to get us started off right. Once this task is complete, we immediately feel rejuvenated and enthusiastic going into the new year.

The less we have, the more we appreciate what we DO have.

It has been my observation, that for the most part, an adults instinctual behavior is no different than that of a child. A child’s is just a bit more amplified because they don’t have the societal trappings of etiquette.

This past weekend I had the unfortunate task of having to punish my daughter for being disrespectful to my wife and myself. The consequence for her disrespect was to give away a whole bunch of her toys. Unfortunately this punishment was not severe enough, as she pretty much said “OK” and then proceeded to assist us in the toy discarding process (I kid you not).

As much as our plan to inflict punishment on her backfired initially ……. it did give us room to minimize her hoard of toys. “Since she clearly doesn’t mind ….. let’s see how far we can go” was the mindset. So we went through her room and started taking out everything to decide what we should keep, and what we should give away. We figured we could kill two birds with one stone by minimizing her hoard in hopes that we will eventually discard enough that it will actually start to be a real consequence to her. My daughter was awfully cavalier about the fact that we cut her toy hoard in half. ……So we kept going. Eventually she started to feel it, pretty bad, and at that moment she learned a valuable lesson. She learned to respect Mommy and Daddy, because we don’t mess around.

In our searches we found unopened toys from LAST Christmas, toys she hadn’t touched in months, toys she forgot she had, and other toys she just plain doesn’t like anymore. And in this purge my wife and I learned a valuable lesson: The more you have, the less you value it.

As for the unopened toys, obviously the children “Toys for Tots” would get more value from the toys than my daughter does.

Days after the purge was finished (long after her punishment and sorrow had passed), we found our daughter playing joyfully with the toys she still had. ALL of the toys she still had. She expressed value in the things that remain; as if they were new. Huh. So it would seem also that: The less we have, the more we appreciate what we DO have.

Does my daughters behavior not reflect the behavior of humanity in general? I think so.

Consider this ….. Maybe having an abundance of stuff, is in a way overwhelming enough to cloud us from enjoying the things we truly enjoy.

Yet another example of “less is more.”

PS: This Christmas, Santa Clause is being ultra conservative.