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Posted by: Elron Mings | 2January2019

Happy New Year!

 

The New year is always a time of new beginnings!  Yule has just past (the longest night), and we now move towards the Vernal Equinox, and the longest day!  As the days grow colder, we find and/or seek warmth from our companions… our Kindred, our Friends, our Loved Ones!

            It is a time of regrowth, of birth, of Life begun anew, as with the dawn.

            And so  we move towards the Light, the brighter days, towards the pleasant things we like to do outdoors, even as we hunker down for the cold, winter days ahead.

            Some make plans, set goals, “resolutions”, from every perspective and angle, newness is in the air.

            Embrace this energy, turn it to the Good, make the most of the year to come, starting with you!  Pick some “thing” you wish to improve, some “flaw” that needs work, and better your self.  Better your self-image, your self-Love, your self-talk.  Be the change you wish to see in the world! 

Let the world know you’re coming, and you won’t be held back!  And most importantly, don’t hold yourself back!!  We can accomplish ANYTHING if we set our minds to it!  Love all of Life to the fullest, and all that you are!  Or change that which you don’t Love about yourself so that you can!

            Follow the Golden Rule, and the Universe will pour upon you all the Blessings of Life!  Do good works, and cheerfully accept each challenge as a precious gift!  For it is, and they are!  How else are we to grow?

            May you find in the New Year all your heart’s desire, much success, and all the Love you put out into the world be returned to you an hundred fold!

            Aloha! Namaste! As-Salàmu Àlaykum!

Posted by: Elron Mings | 14November2018

My Crazy Life… Or the Last Decade Thereof [Part IV]

Herein lies the long awaited final chapter.  I must apologize, for I don’t know that the congruity I had hoped for exists.  If not, please let me know where and why not, and I’ll correct as I’m able.  I’ve been away from my writing too long, and it’s looonnng past time that I get back to it.  Life is funny that way.  It’ll get in the way of whatever it is you want to do, if you let it.  And we usually do, then try to blame some outside source for the distraction.  The fault is my own.  I have failed to budget my time appropriately, and the one thing I want to/like to do most, is the thing that suffered.  No one ever says they want to fail, yet we let Life’s distractions dictate to us our actions, instead of the other way around.  This is what I’ve done.  But I know I am to blame.  It’s all too easy to do.  And “ease” is the gold-standard these days.  If it’s “hard“, we want little or nothing to do with it.  Well, guess what?  Nothing of the best things in Life are easy, if they were, they wouldn’t be the best!  They’d be (as so much is today) mediocre.

I am no fan of mediocrity.  It doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t think “…It’ll do!”  We are all meant to shine, and why wouldn’t we want to shine as brightly as we are able, for as long as we’re able??  I do!  And that’s how I choose to Live my Life!  When I blunder, it is by no small degree!  Contrariwise, I hope to begin adding to that very long list of failures, some absolutely amazing successes!  One day, one hour, one minute, one second, one moment at a time, that is just what I’ll endeavor to do!

Ready?  Grab a comfy spot, it’s not short!  LOL  Here it is…

The incarceration experience itself, was -again- as close as I ever want to come to a “living hell”.  I was more “out of my element” than I’ve ever been in my Life.  And I’m used to being the odd man out!

I was more alone than I’ve ever been, with but a handful of people (over the course of the entire imprisonment) that I would and/or want to socialize with.  I had nothing in common with 95% of the other “inmates” (…inmates is one of two distinctions made “in there”;  “Inmates” are those (now the majority) who took a plea bargain at some point, avoiding trial.  Mostly the youngsters, void of any sense of responsibility or ownership for/of their action(s).  A “convict” was one who had gone to trial and been convicted),the older generations,  -generally- taking ownership of their action(s), and took care of their own business.  Convicts tend(ed) to be more responsible, less meddling, more mindful of and considerate of others and other’s spaces.  So, though I remained friendly, I did not socialize much, if at all.  Had it not been for the previously mentioned programs, I would have completely isolated myself, and at times, I did.  The only exception to the commonality, was of course, our mutual incarceration.

My first 7 months were spent in “the hole”, a predicament, I was told (by the Sergeant in charge only after the fact) that was inflicted upon me because they (the C.O.’s) were concerned about my “mental state”…  Mind you, they had no cause  to have this concern, but this was the excuse proffered.  This was how my incarceration was to begin, and truth be told, it was more damaging to my “mental state” than being sent straight to the “GP” (General Population) would have been.  But I did not make an issue of this fact, because I wanted as little to do with the “governing body” as possible!  A truth I learned while in the military:  The fewer [of those in charge] who know your name after you’re gone, the better off you were!  And in fact, the similarities between prison life and the military are staggering {Sorry military, but it’s true!}.  But again I digress….

Being in “the hole”, you are completely isolated from all human physical contact, and most interaction(s) therewith!  You get (at Yolo County Jail, others may do things slightly differently… such as give you not an hour a day, but 7 hours divided among two or three instead, for the “time out” you’re given is mandated, not how they give it to you) one hour per day, to shave/shower, make a phone call, and spend time in/on the yard (an octagon shape it took me 43 steps to walk completely around)!

Obviously, you usually didn’t get it all done in your time, so you scheduled your time per day.  One day shower and make a phone call, next day walk and phone call (if you had someone available, and willing to take a collect call at whatever your time out was).  At Yolo County Jail, those times rotated throughout the week, and weren’t the same twice in a month.  This too was a tactic, employed to keep you off balance, unrested, “penalized” for whatever offense “they” perceived as a “just” reason for putting/keeping you in the hole.

Truly and completely out of my element, I turned to the one and only escape I had available to me;  Books!  Throughout my incarceration, I read in excess of 370 books, of varying genres and styles.  Scriptures, poetry, autobiographies, self-help, fiction, narrative non-fiction, biographies, sci-fi/fantasy (one of my favorite), tech manuals, I even read -and studied- college text books, with and without the accompanying course(s)!

Until I arrived at San Quentin, and actually spent a greater portion of my time “programming” (anything that is considered/conducive of self-improvement is called this), it’s just about all I did.  From the time I got up, ‘til the moment I went to bed (which was at random times of the day/evening depending on my dictated schedule), I had my nose in a book, and my brain far far away!

It may be the only thing that kept me from losing it!  I’ve always enjoyed reading, and being given such an immense amount of “time” in which to do so, I did!  LOL

It hid me from, and/or gave me an excuse to pretend I was hidden from, all the evils that went on around me.  And there were many.  violence was a common occurrence,  often one inmate against another.  Rarely, someone tweaking hard enough would brave acting out against a C.O., and that never went well for them!

Drugs of course, and plenty of them.  Food bought either through a quarterly package, or from the “canteen” was a favorite currency.  And cell phones aplenty!

We’ll discuss the sources another time, when I’m a little more at liberty to say…  By and large though, prison is a great place to go if you’re looking to hone your skills in criminality, or, more likely, learn/hear from another inmate the way they did it, or should have done it.  Then when you get out you have something new to try!!  Well, sort of.  It is rarely spoken (ironically), but it is the very act(s) that landed them there that they talk about most.  So, if it didn’t work for them, why do you think it would work for you??  Hmmm…

But logic is all but lost on the majority of the incarcerated (and too many of those in charge).  The entire system is rigged against them, often for little more cause than having been born/raised in an impoverished state, and has become so effective at keeping them there, that many of them are convinced that there is either no way out, or no better way!!  Seriously!!

The average education level in prison is 5th grade!!  That’s an average, which means that everyone with a 6th grade education or greater (about 1% of the prison population has a 12th grade or higher level of education), are actually raising the average to that level!!  The problem is systemic!  The entire system from the bottom up, and top down needs fixing, and public opinion right along with it!

Once more I digress, but it actually adds some context for you.  I have had a “13+” level of education for… more than half my life at this point.  So “relating” to the “General Population” was, for me, difficult to the extreme.  Ethically and Morally, as well as “educationally”.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means saying that all or even a majority of the uneducated are morally bankrupt, or “bad”, but what I am saying is that lack of education is one of the most serious problems in the United States, and it’s only getting worse, and the repercussions more numerous.  Poverty is the next most serious problem here in the U.S., and it too is only getting worse, and the -negative- repercussions more numerous.

Therein lies the heart of the problem.  The (majority of the…) wealthy don’t care.  The prison industrial complex is one of the biggest cash cows on the market, and everyone at the top is getting the biggest piece(s) of that shepherd’s pie!

Again with my digression(s)…

The horrors I witnessed are things that the “average” law abiding citizen only sees on t.v., and each one drove me a little deeper into my shell.  Had to!  No “sane” person can take such an abundance of illegality and violence, and not crack, one way or the other.  And by-and-large, the majority succumb.  Even some of the most God-fearing, religious, spiritual people I knew “in there”, had either participated in and/or supported it at some point or another.

Scripture(s) and books, primarily, were my salvation.  Scripture reading helped to deepen a Faith that had already been given a mega-boost during my Journey, and “regular” reading kept my mind busy on all things non-religion related.  Although, I could argue that religion is related to all things, I won’t… not here anyway.

My Faith, above all else, was my saving grace.  While I was in County Jail, and then at reception (D.V.I., Tracy), I had no source other than my own studies (possible by the fervent efforts of the -then- Bishop of the Davis 1st Ward [Thank you again, Travis!  All that you did meant, and means the world to me!!]), and this was invaluable to me!  I spent much of my time reading, rereading, pondering, and Praying about what I’d read.  I came to know the Book of Mormon better than ever before, and it Inspired me to continue to push through, regardless of what happened.

Once I got to Avenal, I was able to (re)establish services there, but for the duration of my time there (a little more than 5 months), I was the only attendee (I had met a couple of members on “my” yard, but they were usually busy doing other things… like working out).  This was fine by me, as I was able to get “alone” time I hadn’t had in more than 2 years, and study the scriptures in relative peace and quiet!

Upon my arrival at San Quentin however, I  had a community of people, fellow members, and outside volunteers, who truly enriched not only my study, but my Life, and they are a continuing and active part in my Life now (Thank you!  You know who you are!)

Reading “fun” books (not for school or religion) was my other go-to sanity saver, a good way for me to escape the world around me.  Many authors’ worlds consumed my attention, among them J.D. ROBB, Jim BUTCHER, Patrick ROTHFUSS, Brandon SANDERSON, LIU Cixin.  These author’s worlds transported me away from it all, and enabled me to be where I wanted to be… anywhere but there.

Despite it all, and by the Grace of God, the lions were kept at bay, and the only thing left of that time for me is the fading memory, the few Good people I want to keep in touch with, and the mental (social) issues that arose from (almost) 7 years of incarceration.

 

And now I’m on the outside.  My Life (and rightly so) will never be the same.  One cannot come from so long a stay in such an institution and remain the same, unless they have no desire to change.  And though I’d already had an appreciation for Life, for “liberty”, for ALL the beauty that surrounds us, it is exponentially more so now!  When forced to witness such ugliness, and having no other options for your time and attention, the yearning to make a difference, to show the world that a rose CAN grow amid a world of concrete, asphalt, and concertina wire!

I don’t know how well I’ve told this chapter of my Life.  I have plenty of room for improvement… as a writer I will always seek to improve.  To be more, to do more, to Live and to share that Living with more!  In some regards, the last ten years have been a blur.  In others, especially during that time of incarceration, it is/was the longest of my Life.  And I am Grateful. And humbled to the extreme.  That I sit now, on “the other side”, typing/writing this to you all, to say, I am here!  I am alive, and I Love all of my 7 + billion brothers and sisters, whether we see eye to eye or not!  And if not, let’s talk.  Let’s discover what it is about our differences that may cause conflict, and avoid that conflict, for our differences are what make us individuals.  And it is our individuality that unites us all, all seven billion of us, for it is what makes us human!  It is the single factor that does not change, but, that if appreciated, and not scorned, can help us all to grow in the midst of concrete, into the blossoming flowers we were all intended to be!  For we are more similar than not, we all have the same three basic needs; Love, Food, Shelter.  And in that order!  We all want Peace, and the freedom to live out our lives in harmony with our Loved ones, our kin, our Friends.

Adversity is but a teacher, and if we so choose to learn from it, instead of fighting against it, we can all appreciate the ease a little more when it comes.

Posted by: Elron Mings | 29October2018

Interruptions…

Hello world!  I know there’s been a long pause already in my multi-part Blog (“My Crazy Life…” Parts I, II, and III respectively, so far), and a huge gap in time since my last post (for which I apologize), but I’m a Wordsmith, and as such, I gotta get what’s in my head out, or it hurts!  LOL  The irony is that this too is variable, as with “My Crazy Life…”, which, remains a niggle in the back of my mind, but is not (yet) screaming for release.  It’s the screamers that you have to take care of right away, or everything else just gets jumbled, which can lead to a plethora of other issues.  In “Real Life” as well as in your (my) writing!  LOL

So here is what’s screaming at me now…  As “fate” would have it, it’s not completely unrelated to “My Crazy Life…”, so hang on to your gents, your ladies, your hats, it may get turbulent ahead…

It is astounding to me, that we (as a society) have developed (not just created, but developed, over several hundred years) a system that says publicly, openly, and often, its goal/priority is to correct, rehabilitate, “fix” even, those members of said society that act criminally, with full public support!  And yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only is that not their goal/priority, but in fact they do/practice just the opposite.  The entire system is set up to demoralize, humiliate, ostracize, and increase the number of recidivists for a maximum of profit.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in whole or in part before, but I say it now because of “the system’s” effect on me, one who doesn’t fit in to their neat little (or large) classification(s) of criminals they have.  Who, because of my “unique” situation/self/mentality, was able to take in what I saw, and instead of becoming yet another categorical example for them to neatly file under “This is why we must do what we do, and continue doing it!”, I now cringe at just how unjust it really is/has become!  I reel at the thought that, they, unbeknownst to me until now (“now” being relative to the time since my release), were able to so completely brain wash me I am struggling to reintegrate into the society I left being whole.

And it of course does not help that society itself has its own set of stigmata for “convicted felons”, regardless of whether or not you “rehabilitated” or not.  Once so labeled, nearly everything becomes more difficult!  Getting a job, a car and/or loan, a house/apartment… anything that has or requires in its path to acquisition a background check.

I am now damaged goods.  Not at all who or where I want to be in Life, with bigger obstacles in my way now than there were when I was simply homeless.

Please don’t mistake my stating of the situation as a sign of an ill-mood, or one of shame or regret.  It is not!  As I so often like to say/point out, I am, have been, and continue to be so very very Blessed!  The reality of my situation is not (for me) a detractor from my demeanor, but something I’ve observed (am observing) of the challenge(s) that I now face in attempting to again be the me I have so long wanted to become.

And these external influences in lieu of an inaccurate labeling is frustrating, to say the least.

Let me also make the detraction that, I stand in my own way as well.  Old habits (such as procrastination) linger on, and when the task ahead looms so daunting, it’s all too easy to want to put it off.

Enough with the digression.  I was being pissed at the system…  LOL

It’s bad enough being stuck in a “box” of a space physically, but even worse when it is discovered that box encompasses the mind!  And this is something “the powers that be” don’t even consider.  They do nothing but the minimum to care for the body, they certainly aren’t going to delve into the costly arena of ensuring ones mental health (so long as it’s not negatively impacting them or others…)!  It is but by the grace of God that I have maintained the faculties of mind I do have…  I shutter to think where I might be, mentally and physically were it otherwise.

But just being aware of the problem by no means fixes it.  I still must get up each day, deal with the situation I’ve been given, and attempt to make progress towards my goals.  Making the time to do it all is my biggest issue.  Routines I’d developed over the course of 36 years of Life have been all but completely removed from my psyche by (almost) 7 years of incarceration.  Now there is just a memory that I once had been able to task myself efficiently enough to survive in the “real world”, and compare it to my “now”, where it seems more of a challenge than it’s ever been.  Where before I could manage my distractions, now they impose themselves upon me as traffic signals!  Red lights when you’re trying to progress, green when you need a break!

Yet, this is Life, is it not?  We all face the difficulties of trying to make time to do all we’d like, while dealing with the reality(ies) that keep us from it/them.  Perhaps I’m just more painfully aware of the constraints than I once was, as, after having been incarcerated for so long, I value my time so much more than I had before.  So much of the “rat race” seems a waste to me now… but those things I’d rather fill my time with are also farther, and further, away.

But there you have it.  A rant, about not much in particular, or everything, I suppose, from a different perspective.  I still feel stuck, but I know there’s a way out.  My mind dump is nearly complete for this installation, so be prepared for the continuation of “my Crazy Life…”, where I know I’ll be talking a bit more about the “me” I’ve observed in lieu of post “lock up”.

Until next time I write/type…

Aloha!  Namaste!  As-Salàmu Àlaykum!

Posted by: Elron Mings | 29September2018

Intermission II

Good Morning and Good Day to thee all!  I will get back to “My Crazy Life…” soon, but I have a lot of considering to do in its authorship.  What exactly do I tell, and how, to convey both the Blessing(s) and the nightmare(s)??  It was a turbulent time in my head, though Spiritually I’d not before been stronger {… and I’d like to think that growth continues!  🙂 }!

But today I am simply sharing a few random thoughts, to let everyone know I’m still about, though the “what” portion has been fluctuating greatly.  LOL  I’ve been steadily working full time with NCCT for 8 or 9 weeks, and have actually found myself enjoying the job I have!  It feels good being able to help keep our Earth Mother clean, and assisting her in healthy growth, thinning out choking scrub trees and bushes.

Recently I had to take a couple of days off for Doctor’s appointments, where they informed me I have “Tennis elbow”.  It hurts when I use it, doesn’t when I don’t, but, it is my Right hand -and I’m Right handed-, and I live an active Life, so non-use is not an option, as taking off a couple of weeks to let it heal is not an option either… at least not a viable one.  I must be able to support myself, and no job for two weeks is the loss of a pay check, and we all know what society thinks of those who have no money/income!

I’ve been feeding my gaming addiction as of late too… I’m not so happy about that.  But it’s “fun”, and I can fill in the “downtime” gaps to an otherwise “monotonous” routine.  I like routine, but not monotony (if that makes any sense at all)!

As I prepare mentally for my upcoming bicycle ride to the Temple here in Sac (I’m baby-sitting young ones while their parents perform Ordinances), I reflect on all that Truly matters to me…  and what doesn’t.  Life, first and foremost, and the host of things that go with that, primarily Love!  For we can get by with out much, if we have but that single ingredient!

I miss you all, and if I haven’t met you yet, perhaps some day soon we shall (…it would be pretty amazing to meet someone who’s read my blog, that I didn’t know!  LOL)!

Blesséd be my Friends!

 

Aloha!  Namaste!  As-Alàmu Àlaykum!

 

~Elron

Posted by: Elron Mings | 21September2018

Good Morning!!

Well, somebody had to say it!  LOL  You can’t see me, you’re reading this!  So it is important that I describe to you all that is going on around me, that you may understand.

Life.  Life is going on, all around me!  And I want so much to be a part of it!  But you won’t let me.  You keep the door(s) locked.  I can’t get in {“What if I’m (he’s) a “criminal”??}  Well, the cat’s out of the bag.  I am.

By “societies” standards, and definition.  In truth, I’m not.  I try, every day to be the Best me I can be, every day.

By “Best”, I mean, non-violent, Peace Loving, Love wanting, me that I can be.  I don’t condone violence, of ANY SORT, but I continue to be subjected to it, literally and figuratively.

My Name is Elron!  What’s your name?  How are you??  Simple greetings, to be shared or ignored as you please.  I have only my words, all else has left me.!

And so I return.  Again and again!  Gladly, for YOU!  Will you have me?

If so, I’ve made the means and the ways for you to contact me when you Wish, available on as many “sharing” “medias” as I’m willing to tolerate.  To be honest, I grow tired of all the technology, the data, it’s all so superfluous!  What MATTERS, IS LIFE!!!!  And the Living of it.

And the people you know, that you invite into your space, matters.  What you do with them, how you do it, Why you do it!

If I’ve confused you, please start from the top, and read it again.  Everything else, is so much fluff!!

I could sit here typing to/at/for you all about what I’ve gone through in this Life, or others, but I do not wish to spend every waking moment typing, or reading, though I enjoy both!  And yet, how else do we share?  I’d rather be Living, alive, feeling, experiencing, all that Life has to offer.  For it doesn’t matter WHAT you do, just so long as you are harming none in doing so.  That includes YOURSELF!

The TRUTH is out there, in every language.  And if that’s what you’re lookin’ for, you’ve found It!  If not, look else where.  I’ll tire eventually of repeating it, but I’ll say it again, perhaps with more words, so you can more easily Understand.

I Love you ALL, that I’ll NEVER tire of saying, to you as an individual, or as a Group.  For THAT is what matters, nothing more, nothing less.  If You’d like to Hear more, feel free to ask (in “person”, in RL preferably), but I’ll respond digitally if you want [you can’t like it or Love it, it’s not “alive”!]!

Aloha!  Namaste!  As-Alámu Álaykum!

~Me~  {~Elron~}

Posted by: Elron Mings | 14September2018

Intermission

I’m going to interrupt the regularly scheduled continuation of “My Crazy Life…“, to tell you all of the last week (well, technically the last 6 days), as, it has certainly altered my perceptions, and to some extent, my reality.

Last Saturday (08SEP2018), I had decided I would ride my bicycle to Sac.  It’s a nice ride, and one I haven’t done in quite some time.  And too, I wanted to test my slowly rebuilding strength as, as many of you are aware, I hadn’t been as physically active the last -nearly- 7 years.

It began that Morning, and was actually going really well!  I wasn’t experiencing any of the fatigue I’d been expecting, and got to West Sac. in just under an hour (between 45-54 minutes, I wasn’t using a stop watch).  I was feeling pretty good about the trip!

I stopped at the Arco for some Glaceau Vitamin Water (a refreshing source of electrolytes… I think), and a couple of bananas.  Quaffed and eaten, I went to carry on to Sac, just a few minutes away from where the I-80 bypass bike trail ends.

I waited a minute or so for traffic, until a nice woman driver of a truck stopped to let me cross.  I checked traffic once more, and started across… no sooner had I passed the woman in her truck, when another woman in her Mini-Cooper took out the front tire of my bicycle!

I am fine, I suffered only a little shock, an equivalent to a “rug-burn” just above my left elbow where I rolled across her right-front quarter panel, and a couple of bruises just above the knee on either leg.  My bike however, roles no more.

Even there, the damage was “minimal”, though total, and I had to wheelie the bike to the curb where she followed, on the opposite side of the street.

I ended up back in Sac later that afternoon (this occurred around 1145), not deterred from the endeavor to which I’d set out on that morning.  And it was while sitting in Capitol Park that I had the time, and the “quiet”, to really think about my Life, its directions, where I am and where I want to be.  You know, the light stuff…  LOL

And I decided that I was taking too much of my present “situation” too seriously.  I’d really been “down” about it as of late.  Not that it was actually bothering me, but it had become an irritant, like the fly that keeps doing circles around your head, no matter how oft you swat at it.  Not so much that you’ll get up and grab the fly-swatter, but enough to be annoying, and keep you from really focusing on your work!  (Similarly to how the flies are beginning to annoy me now as I sit in my Friend’s back yard, typing this…)

If I had started out a fraction of a second earlier, it would have been me that got mangled up, and not the front part of my bicycle.  A FRACTION.  Not an entire second, but an infinitesimal portion of a second.  Such (if you’ll excuse the extremity of the word…) brutal, “in-your-face” reminders of our temporary status in this existence, can (and will) really make you aware of how precious, how fleeting, how fragile these Lives we live are, and cause -at least for me- a deeper appreciation of Divinity and Their presence in our Lives!  No matter where you are at in your Life, such things will indelibly alter your perception(s), and cause any sentient being to evaluate her/his position(s)/stance(s) on the Lives we are presently engaged in!

And so I did.  And I realized that regardless of how much appreciation I had for the “freedom” I’d re-aqcuired, I was being ungrateful for and towards those who were (are) allowing me to stay in their facility, because of pride.  Because things weren’t as I wanted them to be, and they weren’t willing to let me have it just as I wanted it.  I’d been acting like a spoiled rotten brat.

I had (have) been spoiled, by my ideals, by the minute experience of a past Life, in which I was in charge, and didn’t have to abide by rules someone else had set (for my benefit, whether I agree(d) or not), nor to answer to if I failed to comply.  (I am of course referring to “my” Life before incarceration.)

And so, I decided it was time for (yet another/more) change in my behavior.  It matters not what I want, but what I have, and what I’m willing to do with it.  If we do not make the most of the opportunities we are given, we might well lose them.

And that was/is the (greater portion) of what has been on my mind this week.  Gratitude.  Gratitude for what I have, and for those providing me with it.  And to them I say, “Thank you!”, and “Namaste!”

And to all of you, I say “Thank you!”, for having a part in my Life, for allowing me to share in the moments that make up this reality, and for hanging with me, despite my stubborn and relentless desire to be right, instead of simply doing right!

Namaste!

Posted by: Elron Mings | 5September2018

My Crazy Life… Or, the Last Decade Thereof [Part III]

Part III is not that exciting… it can’t be.  It’s of the loneliest and darkest part of my Life.  Not because of my own personal feeling(s) per se regarding the time/situation, but more so because of my surroundings.  There hadn’t been a time in my Life where I identified so much with “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” as while I was incarcerated.  Though some of the greatest Blessings I received were being able to avoid the darkest of men’s hearts during this time, I was constantly aware that my situation could have gone from bad to worse in a moment’s time, without warning.  There is little happiness behind those concertina wire lined fences, concrete walls and asphalt.  And one who is perpetually happy with the fact of being alive could have made a very easy target.

This part in particular is more of an overview of my activity(ies), while the next will be more of the emotion(s), the events, the personal trauma(s), and so one.  Brace yourselves, the ride’s going to be bumpy!  LOL

Ready to go down ‘the Rabbit Hole’??

—-

 

Herein is where Life takes a turn I did not see coming.  For several months at this point, I had been befriending a guy not far from where I’d been camping, a long-time Friend of the guy whom I’d shared a room and being “kicked out” together.

To spare the legalities, we’ll call the former roommate/Friend Bob, and the one I was getting to know Joe (The “facts” are a matter of public record, but to avoid unnecessary problems and potential grief, pseudo-names suffice).

Bob was spending much of his free time at Joe’s, and Joe would occasionally invite me over (through Bob) to spend the day/afternoon.  We seemed to be hitting it off!  In fact, Joe and I had much in common (or so I perceived it to be… in hindsight, I’m not sure how much, if any of our “relationship” was real), and were quite like minded in serious philosophical/metaphysical matters.  Our Friendship (again, from my perspective) grew rapidly, and I came to respect him for his knowledge, insight, and Life experience(s).

Joe was deathly ill.  Every day, the pain he suffered got worse.  He required more and more assistance in taking care of “simple” things, like getting off the bed, getting in to/out of his chair.  He felt he had no quality of Life, and even that was diminishing.

One evening, I was at Joe’s apartment, preparing to write his biography.  We’d agreed he had an amazing story to tell, and, being the “up-and-coming” wordsmith, he was happy to let me write it.  We had only just begun, and he -quite literally- out of the blue, asked me to help him end his suffering.  I was in shock, and “the world” blurred around us.  In my numbness at what he’d asked, I attempted to comply.

 

I paid the price for (what I consider(ed) to be an act of compassion) it.  6 years, 9 months, and 11 days of imprisonment.  It does not make sense to me (as a sentient, empathetic human-being) that we can show such mercy to a horse who broke its leg, or our dogs and cats, and other farm animals, for great deal less suffering on their behalf.  But when a fellow human-being is suffering unfathomably, and begs for mercy, the law says we must not only allow them to continue to suffer, but prolong their suffering as long as pharmaceutical and insurance companies and doctors stand to make a profit!!

That time was a living hell for me.  I have no doubt some will think it just.  I reserve my opinion on what it was for another blog…

Yet while for me personally it was hell, having next to nothing in common with those around me, little to add to their dialogue(s) of belittling and degrading women, I continued to be Blessed daily!

Every aspect of that time could have been worse, but wasn’t.  I was provided opportunities I would not have had on the streets, opportunities that in “real Life” had eluded me for one reason or another.  Such as learning HTML/CSS and JavaScript, in a program called Code.7370, a joint venture between PIA and TLM (Prison Industrial Authority and The Last Mile, respectively)!  It’s a fantastic program, that’s really starting to take off, and become available at more facilities, teaching inmates real and marketable career skills that can improve their odds of, if not guarantee, they do not remain caught up in the cyclic lifestyles that ushered them in to the prison industrial complex.

While at San Quentin I also participated in the Insight Garden Program, another wonderful program, designed to teach gardening as a metaphor, as a method of self-improvement as well as a “real world” skill set, which also has a high success rate of preventing recidivism!

Of the programs I attended, one of the best (they were all good, and I very much liked them all) was attending Patten University via P.U.P. (Prison University Project)!  What made (makes) this program -offered at present, solely at San Quentin- so great, was the learning environment.  98 percent of those attending (a guesstimate, so please don’t quote me) actually wanted to learn, and the instructors were all volunteers from surrounding/nearby Universities!  On top of this, there was a minimum of 2 instructors per course, so you had a classroom (capped at 25 students) of people who wanted to learn, teachers, who by the very nature of the fact they were volunteering were passionate about education/learning, and you have an environment unlike any other for the betterment and enrichment of your Life through higher education!  It was (is) phenomenal!

Then there was Yoga!  Offered through what’s called the Prison Yoga Project, this program offers inmates and inmates who are Vet’s a time and place to practice the Art of Yoga!  When I first arrived at S. Q., I was able to do both the Veterans Healing Veterans Yoga as well as the Hatha Yoga down in/on the H-unit yard, which was awesome (Once I got a job though I could only attend the latter, as the VHV Yoga was [is] in the mornings… so only for about the first 6 months)!  The primary instructor down on the H-Unit yard was Zain SYED, and with him we practiced the Iyengar style of Hatha Yoga, and it was (is), a fantastic practice!  I still prefer this style, though I’ve not yet found a local guru such as Zain with whom I may continue my own practice.  I’m still working on making the time also…

Last but certainly not least, was my Creative Writing class Finding Your Voice on the Page, by authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman.  Twins, and successful co-authors of more than 20 books (and counting), they brought to us an outlet that I was much in need of, a place where I could write, and express myself, even if only in short bursts of written text.  Shortly before I arrived at S.Q., they actually published a book titled H-Unit, a compilation of pieces written by the students of the class.

These programs (during the last 4 years [approximately] of my incarceration) helped me to maintain my sanity.  The “me” I couldn’t be when in the dorm, surrounded by upwards of 80 other guys, was able to come out and stretch for brief moments of those longest years, months, and days of my Life.

Posted by: Elron Mings | 25August2018

My Crazy Life… Or, the Last Decade Thereof [Part II]

Here is the second part of this essay.  It looks like it’ll be about 4 parts… or maybe the next will be a little longer, depending on how I summarize/explain certain items.  we will see.

I’ve found myself working a job in/with nature in a way I hadn’t previously anticipated, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.  I’m working with (not for) CalTrans, cleaning up the roadways/highways/bi-ways in the surrounding areas of Yolo and Sacramento County(ies) and it feels good to be back in the work force.

But my “time” allocation/management is all messed up, so please forgive any great lags in my posting.  It is not for lack of content, but for lack of adjustment to this thing we call the “real world”, and the numerous pulls for my time/attention.  It really shouldn’t be this difficult, but, apparently, it is a common affliction of the formerly incarcerated.  So please bear with me!?  I’m still working on me, and eventually I’ll have something that resembles “acceptable”, I hope.  LOL

Keep the Faith, and know there’s yet more to come, should I (we) continue to be Blessed with additional days to our fragile and under-lived Lives!  😉

—-

I’d found a shelter to stay at in Woodland (formerly known as the Wayfarer), CA (I should say, I was Directed to…) the day I arrived, and there found hospitality, and a few new Friendships that remain to this day (Thank you Caleb, Steve, Rosie, Fritz)!  True Friendships.  Approximately 4 months later, after my allowed time at the Wayfarer had expired, I moved on to Davis, CA, and Davis Community Meals became my new place of residence.  More good people, more assistance getting me to where I thought I needed to be, to get my Life on the long overdue track I’d always wanted it to be on!

For the last 2 ½ years, I’d been steadily looking for full time employment, often putting in 40 hrs. plus in the search thereof.  As previously mentioned, the “bad economy” had become my shadow.  During those latter months of my time in Illinois, it had the highest unemployment rate in the U.S.  Then, while in New Mexico, it had the highest unemployment rate in the states.  Now (circa February/March, 2011), California had the highest unemployment rate.  All I wanted was a full time job, with -acceptable, not even necessarily good– benefits, so I didn’t have to worry about my health, and to get some much needed dental insurance, something that low income/poverty level finances cannot afford without.

And I finally found it!  Where I least expected it, and in a field of work I’d not been in before, I found myself now as a full time employee of the Davis Food Co-Op!  Perhaps the best job I’ve ever had, not because of the pay, but because of the people, the environment, the message(s) which it represents, and good benefits!  All things I believe(d) in, all things I’d supported in spirit, if not literally, I was now an active part of!  With insurance!!

As they say (though I don’t wholly believe), all good things come to an end.  I had been working for the Co-Op a little more than 4 months, and had literally just got my medical/dental insurance cards in the mail.  I’d received them on Thursday or Friday, and was working, and then Saturday when I showed up for work, they told me they didn’t need me to work that day, but asked me to come in on Monday (one of my days off) to talk to management.

No explanation, just, “…come in Monday afternoon and we’ll explain it to you then.”  I had the entire weekend to fret, to wonder, not knowing what was going on or why.

They were laying me off.  I found out shortly after my “meeting” with HR, from a fellow co-worker (I hadn’t even got out of the parking lot) that I wasn’t the only one; they’d laid her off as well, about ten of us in all.  Each of us working full-time hours, and replaced us with several “college kids” as part-time employees.

And here is where my “Life” started to unravel.  {Timeline note: it was now towards the end of July, beginning of August, 2011.}

I didn’t “go crazy”, or “lose it”, I had come too far along the path of a Positive perspective on Life.  I knew (and know still) that all things happen for a Reason, and though my “situation” seemed precarious, I remained optimistic, if not disappointed.

However, my “case manager” didn’t share my optimism.  I still don’t know for sure what his reasoning/thinking was about my having been laid-off… if he thought I was covering up a termination or something, I just don’t know.  But that Wednesday, when I met with him for our weekly “check-in”, he dismissed me from the house.  He too provided no explanation (quite similarly to the way I’d been laid-off from the Co-Op), said only that it wasn’t any one thing, but “…a bunch of little things”, but that I’d be welcome to try and come back to DCM, to try for residency again in a month.

I was crushed.  Not only had I lost the first full-time job I’d had in 2 ½ years, for the fact that I was working full-time, but the only stable residence in town I could afford (free), where I’d planned to launch my career as a writer.

Jobless again, -literally- homeless again, I took what few possessions I could and with a roommate (who also “got the boot” from DCM that same morning) lugged it all down the road a bit, to a spot beside the railroad tracks where we would make a “camp” for ourselves.  All was not lost, I still had my laptop (the very one I am now writing/typing upon), a Positive outlook on Life, and a strong desire, a will to succeed!  I had been on the “down-side of Life” (as a perspective) for far too much of my Life already, and I was tired of failure(s) being the end result.

To be continued…

Posted by: Elron Mings | 17August2018

My Crazy Life… Or, the Last Decade Thereof [Part I]

person wearing blue jeans sitting on bench

Photo by Bas Masseus on Pexels.com

 

There is something to losing all your worldly possessions… it brings (or can bring) a level of humility unique, in that it causes an awareness of just how temporary material possessions are, and if you reflect on it a bit, Life, similarly.

My “ex” and I separated in September of 2008, and the only possession of “value” that I got was the car.  She kept the dog, the house (note: I didn’t say home), all but 8 books of our Library of 100s, and a few clothes I was able to swap/change/wash on the weekends, supervised (more or less).  Immediately following my departure from where she lived, two or our “mutual” Friends moved in with her, and the very night I left, there was another man sleeping in “my” bed.

I was vainly attempting to be a salesman, and failing miserably.  I was selling (what I believe to be, and with good reason) the best product in the world, and am Blessed that my Life didn’t depend upon it, or I’d not be here today.  My monetary status did depend on it however, and regardless of 12-16 hour days in the attempt thereof, I couldn’t sell “them” at all.  If memory serves, over the course of the next 7 months, I sold a total of eight, and the profit I gained from that was not enough to survive on.

Through the kindness and generosity of my Boss, the owner of the franchise, I was able to get gas money usually by being a driver for a crew, and a few odd-ends jobs.  I lived on a dollar a day diet, usually Taco Bell’s dollar menu.  Occasionally I’d splurge and get a “Blue” Mt. Dew on refill, but it was usually too late for that, the dining room was closed (…the other reason it was usually Taco Bell, they were the only ones in proximity to where I worked and the location of where I parked the car and slept, and still open).  Those long hours were 6 days a week sometimes, 7 days a week mostly, and despite my passion about/for the product, it wasn’t selling.  At least not for me.

To be fair, the economy had tanked, and at that time Illinois had the worst unemployment rate in the nation (this is a key note…), so it wasn’t just me, though it felt like it at times.  Bottom line, I’m no salesman.  LOL

So, towards the end of those first 7 months, I was having a conversation with my brother, and my living situation came up.  He, at the time, was still in the Air Force, stationed in Albuquerque, and I, if not sleeping in my car, was “living” (existing, really) out of it, staying on a temporary basis with various Friends.  To them (they know who they are), I again wish to express my gratitude!  If not for them, my situation would have/could have been much worse.  They tolerated my presence (in most cases) more than many would, and I consider every night of their grace a Blessing!

He (Walter, “Walt” for short) was at some point in the conversation Inspired to invite me to come stay with him (and at the time, his wife, and our Mom) rent free, and even offered to wire me some money for the trip.  I considered my options (few), and my situation (bleak, at best), and humbly accepted the offer.  A few days later, I made the 18 hour drive, stopping only once for a couple hours -literally- of rest.

And so marked a major turning point in my Life.  I was out of the state where my “ex” lived, freed from the pull of what had become (for me) a “black hole”.  I said adieu to the Friends I still had (and would like to think I still do have… I remain in touch with most of them), and drove off into the proverbial sunset.

Here is where my Life would take a drastic turn, and set me upon a path I continue today.  A journey of a thousand miles was but the first step…  The growth, primarily Spiritual in nature (but not solely) has been monumental, but costly.  And, if I’m honest about it, worth it.  In spite of the challenges, the losses, the Spiritual and mental growths have magnified exponentially!  I’ve always considered myself to be a “man” of Faith, but the Faith which I gained during that Journey made it seem as though I’d had none before!  So great were the Blessings during that 75 day trek, and the quantity and richness of the Blessings received have only increased since then!

And yes, I include the last 7 years (minus a couple months and change) of incarceration in that statement as well!  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Here is where (when) I walked from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Woodland, California.  Here is where I suffered the greatest lost I’ve ever known.  Before the walk actually began, a year before in fact, I had attempted (only briefly) the Journey of a thousand miles, and knew within hours my effort(s) at that time would be futile, and quite likely fatal.  I was ill prepared, and lacked the fortitude (mentally as well as physically, though it would be a few more months before I was aware of the mental “issues” from which I still suffered…) necessary to survive the journey, and the mental strength to fully “be me” in the desired/expected relationship(s).

I had a lot of baggage still, left over from the separation, shadows of me I didn’t yet know needed to be excised.  Bad habits and ideas that I knew didn’t belong in my repertoire, but hung around after 13 + years of not great marriage.  And thusly, upon my first “attempt” at my journey (for context, JUL2009), though I got there, it was not under the pretext it should have been (completing the Journey of a Thousand Miles), and though I had the three best months of my Life, it was just that… short lived, and it did not at all become what was (had been) intended to be.  After the miscarriage of our twins, what threads had bound us together seemed now to be frayed and withered away.

The following year, in the same month, I began the Journey in earnest!  It was, and remains to be a major highlight in my Life, one of the most significant events, and stories I have to tell!  At that moment in my Life, I had nearly nothing.  Most of what I considered “my” possessions, remained in Illinois.  The anticipated divorce was finalized 3 days after my Journey began (the “beginning” of the journey was 20JUL2010, I received notification of the finalized divorce 23JUL2010), and what I had in my 80 litre pack was the majority of what was now “legally” mine.  Many many pairs of socks, a small variety of shirts/cargo-shorts, 4 three-litre CamelBak®’s for my water supply, which (if rationed properly) would (and did) give me 4 days worth of water (the greatest distance between locations where I could refill them), about 60% of my food supply(ies) (Clif Bars®), a tent, a sleeping bag, and the will to succeed.

Though it began as a journey for Love, it ended up becoming a journey of Love!  I had just about given up on people, on Life (not in a suicidal manner), on relationships.  The drive to be, to remain a “man of my word” however pushed me forward, and over the course of those 75 days, Miraculously, if I had spoken with anyone, they were the kindest, most sincere people one could ever Hope/Pray to meet, and I met them randomly, spread across 3 states and 1200+ miles.

And so I changed.  I grew.  Spiritually above all else, mentally through experience, and now I found I had a more clear vision of Life, of Love, of who I was, and wanted to be.  Of where I saw my Life going, and I began to enjoy more fully the freedom my homelessness now presented.  My heart still ached.  It still does.  But it no longer consumed(s) me.  My loneliness is more a point of reference, rather than an all-consuming tragedy.  Life, when Lived, provides a myriad of countless, beautiful points of Light, from within, from without, under hill and over dale, it bursts from and through every point of reference!  Expression becomes difficult, if not impossible, for there is so much to be shared!  I was seeing it now, every day, around every corner, through amazing people, and amazing circumstances.  Materiality was fading away, and Spirituality and the Love of and for Life was growing immeasurably!

To be continued…

Posted by: Elron Mings | 12August2018

Precious Moments: Share A Long Hug!

I seem to be posting a lot on this subject lately, but it’s something that continues to be on my mind, and thus the only way I know of to get it out, is to write about it…

There are so many moments in each and every second, and those moments are what matter most in the make up of our being.  They not only define us, but they are what we remember, what triggers our emotions, what drives us to action.  And it’s the “small” things, those fractions of measured time that have the greatest impact on our lives, that inevitably mean the most to us, for Good or ill.

Yet we’ve become so caught up in the day-to-day routine, the digital connection, that we’re missing what’s most important, the “RL” connection(s).  Real Life.  Where those precious moments are not just experienced, but shared!

Life is fragile, and quick, and we don’t have the time to waste forgoing the meaningful, quality time that leads to deeply personal, intimate relationships.  Whether forming Friendships, connecting with Family, or creating a bond with a potential partner for Life, these things take time.  They take effort.  And social media sights are not about building those relationships, they’re about the instant gratification.  Their results are short term, and shallow in comparison.  Yet we’re turning to them more and more for that very reason!  “We don’t have the time to invest!”, “It’s safer, and we’re less likely to suffer heartbreak.”  These excuses sound good, but they are the root of the problem, and in the end, just an excuse, one that will leave us feeling hollow, and terribly alone.

If we don’t take the time to form the bonds of Friendship, that lead to the more meaningful “levels” of True Love (if you’ve read my blog, you know I’m referring to Charity), which can be shared with Friends, Family, and Loved Ones, then we miss out on those bonds that are most likely to keep us alive!  It takes time.  Any thing of value does.  Any thing worth our time, is worth the effort that must be included.  Otherwise we are short changing ourselves, and denying ourselves the opportunity(ies) to experience the greatest moments of our Lives!

There is NO replacement for “face-to-face” time, and NO comparison to the quality of relationship that stems from a serious investment of that time!  Sure, the “instant gratification” method produces those “free” endorphins of stimulation, but they also create a dependency that detracts from our ability to experience that same “rush” in RL situations.  And too, a trend has taken shape towards the digital because we’re less vulnerable…  Perhaps, but at what cost?  We are none of us “safe” in this world, and we are not promised -at least not us typical mortals- the next day, or even the next moment!  We have but a Hope…  we have but this one moment to live, this one Life’s worth of memories to build upon (again, typically), and if we don’t maximize our efforts for building relationships, we are denying ourselves many (if not most) of the greatest of successes in Life!  To hear, and to be heard, to feel, and to be felt, to see, and to be seen.

There is a bonding hormone and neurotransmitter (oxytocin) that is released after a twenty second hug, and it’s a natural antidepressant (…among other things)!  I’ve been a “huggy” kind of guy most of my Life, and I don’t often invest that much time in a hug… what are missing out on???  And why???  I can think of nothing more valuable, nor worthwhile, than Family and Friends!  Don’t we owe it to each other to be “present” enough in our relationships to give more 20 second hugs????  I know I plan on giving more of them, and maybe I’ll get a few in return (…be sure the person is willing, of course)!

Life is too short.  It is fragile, and fleeting.  We do ourselves no favors by shortchanging the time we spend with those we care about, or are interested in spending time with, perhaps leading to a deeper more caring relationship with them.  We are in fact doing ourselves a great disservice.  We are denying ourselves, and others, the opportunity(ies) to develop fundamental and core relationships, that can not only improve our quality of Life, but the length thereof as well!  And who doesn’t want that?

The rest of the “civilized” (…okay, the 1%) world seems to be on the fast-track to destroying the only home planet we have, and all of the Life thereon as quickly as they’re able.  Let us not give in by shortening our own lives for them, they’re trying hard enough.

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