I am writing to say thank you! If you are reading these words my correspondence has made it to your vista, and that, my dear, is in no small part a miracle. Since beginning my period of incarceration I have received overwhelming support from friends and family. Your prayers, letters, and visits mean more to me than you may ever know. Collectively you’ve helped lift me up during a time of great difficulty. As I write you now I can’t help but feel immensely grateful for this life. From the very bottom to the very top of my heart I thank you.
As this Holiday season moves into full swing I want you to know I am doing well. I continue to face potential adversity in Federal Prison with a spirit of open-mindedness. I try and greet each moment with curiosity, simply observing free of judgment. In life it can be all too easy to see what we don’t have; what we are missing and what we wish we had. Yet often this part of the human condition blinds us from seeing the good right in front of us and we fail to appreciate the beauty present in our lives.
Although I often maintain a “positive” outlook, I can honestly say that I personally have struggled with gratitude many times over the course of this journey. When I first came to prison I was angry. I was outraged by the corruption and self-serving interests I encountered at nearly every level of government. I was shocked that our country could and would lock up so many non-violent and often first-time offenders for great lengths of time. (Myself Included!!) In addition I resented the snitches for refusing to take responsibility for their actions, shifting blame, and hurting others. I lay awake in the dead of night on a cold steel bunk and thought these thoughts countless times. “Why are we still locking people up for weed?!!” “Screwed up Government!!” “They aren’t representing the people…” “F%@K those dirty Snitches!!” “Rat pieces of shit” “This is such Bull shit!” “I want to be home” “I want to be with my family” “I want to be with my loving wife Julia” “I don’t want to be here” I F%@king hate this!!” “More than anything I hate seeing her in pain” “I hate it…” My thoughts soon created a prison with-in a prison. I was not only physically incarcerated I WAS IN PRISON IN MY MIND!
When a person abandons gratitude they build themself the greatest prison of all. My mind was surrounded by concrete walls of resentment and a razor wire fence of contempt barring me from so much good in my life. As soon as I made this discovery I began immediately planning my escape… But soon I realized that if I was the one who had made this prison, then only I had the power to demolish it. And rather than be on the run I want freedom. So I made the choice then and there to break this prison and live as a free man. I find compassion for those who hurt me. I forgive and I am forgiven. I release fear, anger and judgment from my life. With a whole heart I welcome love, peace and serenity in curious playful expression. “None but ourselves can free our mind…” Thanks Bob Marley!! 😉
To stay true to my resolve I start and end each day with gratitude. I think of all I appreciate and I appreciate all I think of!!! I take time to breathe the air, feel my lunges and marvel at the sky. I thank my legs for working so well, my eyes for seeing and my ears for listening. I smile often, sing to the birds and I laugh with the universe. The truth is living like this is fun! :):) So I thank you for your incredible being. I applaud you for you wonderful effort. And until we meet again let this smile be a mantra for me loving you always.
Per my request the FOX TV show Right This Minute made a wonderful, fun and interesting video that aired today. If you haven’t seen it go to their website: http://www.rightthisminute.com/post/farmer-makes-amazing-birthday-video-wife-shortly-his-incarceration The guys here really enjoyed watching it! I guess the story really touched close to home for many. It’s crazy to send First Time Non Violent Offenders to prison for years and years! Who does this benefit? Right This Minute gave compassionate support to me as a prisoner and as a result cast a small light on the absurdity of the situation at large. They showed the human side someone incarcerated and the love between a prisoner and his wife. We ALL had fun!!!
NOW I NEED YOUR HELP. I want to forward the RTM video to a number of prisoner advocacy groups. It’s a story that prisoners and their families will relate to. And it’s fun! I am asking for your help. There are currently over two million people incarcerated in this country. Most of which are Non violent offenders. They all have families and tens of millions of people affected.
I am asking you to Go on the internet and send the RTM video/link to a number of prison advocacy groups today. You may find some of these on Google. You can also look up “Face Book Prisoner advocacy groups” “Prisoner Groups” etc on FB. There is no shortage. Please if you have a few spare minutes today, tomorrow and any time this week, send the link to as many groups and people as you can find. Even a few short emails like “check out this video,” can make a difference. It is sure to put a smile on the face of someone with family in prison and we could always use to smile more! :):):)
Thanks for your love and support
It’s early morning and the sun is seeping in after a day and night of pounding hail and rain. There is something absolutely amazing about the feeling of sunshine after a torrential down pour. And that incredible phenomenon seems to be amplified exponentially when experienced in the desert. 10,000 acres of soaking wet sage filled the air with an aroma that is wonderfully indescribable. And that is when it happened…
At some point in-between storms the most incredible light show of my life began. A vibrant rainbow beyond my wildest imagination burst the very seams of reality. It’s full arc stretched from horizon to horizon and it was so freaking bright and so tall I needed to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t lucid dreaming again! And my goodness it had a double! Above the first brilliant miraculous display of the cosmos there was a second more faint but equally majestic rainbow. It seems miracles often come to the places we overlook in the time we least expect them… The whole event was so was so powerful that people flocked outside of the unit to wonder at it’s magnificence. And as the rain fell, the sun shone and a double rainbow of epic proportions continued to grow out of a lonely forgotten desert. All to be witnessed by no more than a hundred and twenty cast aways, a few jack rabbits, coyotes, horny toads, and a number of other resilient creatures that call this place home.
In that moment the true colors of this place they call a prison were shown clearly. Men smiled, laughed and stared with jaws hung a gasp uttering expressions of excitement, disbelief and appreciation. They high fived. They howled. They shook their heads. The prison was gone. The guards were retired. The past was forgiven. The future was unimportant. And in this moment called the here and now true freedom expresses her full radiance, over flowing with abundance of infinite proportions.
So I write to these words not as a prisoner, captive or victim of some injustice but in my fullest expression of a free man living his wildest dreams. I am grateful beyond words, smiling lavishly and wishing you a beautiful day. Cuidate.
your friend brett
Dear friends, family, people of America, and small woodland creatures:
Greetings from the monastery! I am writing you in good health with fabulous optimism and unflagging enthusiasm for this wild adventure called life. Nearly a year has passed since the Federal Government banished me to a highly insecure prison in the barren high desert lands of Northeastern California for my rehabilitation and your safety, of course. Throughout my time here I have received tremendous support including many heartfelt, thoughtful letters. For this I am immensely grateful. I thank all of you for your kindness.
When a person goes to prison we think they are getting punished. But the truth is it’s often their loved ones who suffer the most. Indeed it is the family on the outside burdened with filling the roles left vacant by the incarcerated. Families often worry about how their loved ones are fairing in prison. ‘Are they safe?’ ‘Are they miserable?’ etc… I frequently receive questions regarding how I am doing, what it is like to be here, and what sorts of things to I do to pass the time. I started this blog to share with you short stories, reflections and poetry from my time here. This site is maintained by generosity of a close friend on the outside. I hope you enjoy.
It’s getting late and I should turn in soon. But before I curl up on my bunk and close my eyes for the 357th night here at Herlong Federal Prison Camp, i will tell you just a little about my day. It started with a cup of tea in the wee hours of the morning. By seven thirty AM I was knee deep in my day job teaching English as Second Language to a diverse group of non-native English speakers. Lunch is a fixed menu served promptly between 10:30 and 10:45. Today was Fish Friday. Think school lunch… Following my ingestion of life sustaining material midday, I taught a bitchin’ Spanish II lesson to an enthusiastic class. The Spanish classes are 100% voluntary so the guys that show up sincerely want to be there and it makes for a great learning environment.
In prison if you are smart you create a life that engages you. Indeed being present is the secret to life no matter where you are. Most of the classes that exist here were created by just a few very passionate motivated individuals working together to make a better environment for all. Between working, going to classes, reading/writing, and working out, the days can pass quickly.
After teaching Spanish II, the rest of the day was a blur of working out and walking the track around the yard and staring out at the vastness of the dessert and the snow-covered mountains in the distance. I managed to read a little and in the evening I went to meditation. I am pretty sure I levitated but there is no way to be 100% sure because our eyes were closed the whole time. Either way I think I am ready to meet the Dali Lama…
Now it’s time to go to bed. I will write you again soon. I love you all with my whole human heart I do! Sweet dreams. I’ll see you there…
your friend brett