Incarcerated Writers Series: Occupy the Mind

This series features writing from inmates at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center. The articles stem from weekly programming facilitated by the Colorado College Prison Project. Through contact between the CC community and Colorado Springs, this series aims to simultaneously broaden CC’s perception of incarceration issues and provide a platform for incarcerated writers. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office requires approval of written material prior to publication and the removal of authors’ last names. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the EPCSO or the Prison Project.



Many people in the world are ill, in great suffering and poverty, and are unable to exist in harmony with others and have trouble even accepting themselves. My experience in this place I refer to as the front lines of society has broadened my perspective. I see people being taught the same lessons every day. Every day. I understand that some people have an inability to learn, while others deliberately refuse to learn as an unyielding act of defiance. Still, others see the error of their ways and become enlightened as well.

In “A Book of Five Rings”, Miyamoto Musashi wrote:

“Many things are said to be infectious. Sleepiness can be infectious and yawning as well. In a large-scale strategy, when the enemy is agitated and shows an inclination to rush, do not mind in the least. Make a show of complete calmness, and the enemy will be taken by this and will also become relaxed. You infect their spirit. You can infect them with a carefree, drunk-like spirit, with boredom, or even weakness.” 

Now apply this technique to being the change we wish to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi suggested. To lead by example, we must first face our own faults and make the respective changes necessary to lead. Taking responsibility, cleaning up after ourselves, and showing others the way are the first steps. As we sift through trivial pursuit of happiness and the paradox of freedom, it is time to work for a global, if not universal, dream. We must look deeply into the uncertain eyes of change and accept the challenge, daring fate to test our greatness! 

During his 1994 inaugural speech following 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela shared Marianne Williamson’s poem to spread her message:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God and playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, but in everyone! As we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other permission to do the same.” 

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