A New Beginning

by Jay Goodman

Sometimes in life you never know how a certain situation you’re put in will change you forever. Whether the situation you face is good or bad, everyone will have an opportunity to grow from each experience if they choose too.

Naturally it’s easy to see how we’ve grown from the good experiences in our lives, because they have filled us with happiness. But has anyone taken a moment to reflect on the hard times they faced in life? Most people usually try to forget bad experiences, or if they do think about it, they become bitter, angry, or sad. Not realizing that by doing so they might be passing up one of life’s greatest lessons. I remember when I decided to go to school to learn how to train service dogs, the first day I was excited, but after a month I realized that to learned everything I needed to know  was going to require a lot of work.

I was thinking how I needed 4000 hours to complete this class if I wanted to get certified. Now all of a sudden it wasn’t so exciting anymore.

In fact, there were days I dreaded going to class, I found myself even contemplating dropping out. But I kept pushing forward, and I stayed in a constant mindset of I wish that this was over. But in the end when I completed the course, and I handed a 12-year-old little boy a service dog he needed, I can still remember the overwhelming Feeling of pride I felt that day. It took me four years to complete this class, and as I said earlier, I started realizing after a month what I had gotten myself into. So even though I didn’t like what I had to go through, looking back at it now I have realized how much I grew as a man during those years. There is an old song written by Steve Miller in the 1970s, and this song he says “you’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven. I cannot begin to tell everyone how true this statement is for me, and it’s taking me a lifetime to realize that we can learn and grow from difficult situations in our lives just as much if not more than if everything was going great. Please understand I’m not saying I enjoy the difficult times, or that I’m hoping for hard times. There’s many things that’s happened to me, that I would never want to relive. But through this path I did learn and grow from each experience. When I arrive at the Texas prison system over 15 years ago, I was not ready for the road ahead of me. Everyone that’s waiting to go to prison in Texas, already is aware of their prison system. It’s not a secret how horrible the conditions are or that you might not make it out alive. Emotionally and psychologically a person getting ready to face something where they know and understand that they may never see their loved ones ever again is something they will never forget. In fact, while the men are waiting to leave the county jail for prison, you can see the transformation come over them. It’s like they are becoming a different person right before your very eyes. And in reality, they are. It’s like a man going off to war he is fully aware of his circumstances and that there is a possibility someone may try to kill him, or that he may have to kill someone. Also, everyone who’s facing what may happen is also going to have to face their inner demons. It’s a lot for a person to take on, especially under the conditions everyone will have to endure inside the Texas prison system.

Well I had to endure my last 15 years I would not wish on my worst enemy. But it’s something I had to go through because of my actions. Many prisoners have asked me, “how many years have you got in prison, Jay?” When I answer “over 15 years,” many will say “God, that’s a long time.” Not too long ago a lady guard who read a book I had written called “Angie’s Story” asked me how long I’ve been in prison, and when I told her she said “what a waste, you are way too smart.” And even though she was right, what she did not understand is if I hadn’t went through everything I did, she would not have read my book or be talking to the person she liked.

Too often we forget it’s because of life’s worst experiences that we learn some of life’s most valuable lessons. Too often I have seen people go through difficult circumstances and become better, I’ve seen people who’s lost someone close to them say they hate God, or they don’t believe in God anymore. I have always thought that this was odd, because from my viewpoint it seems like this would be the time when you need God in your life the very most. I have suffered much in my life, and it was during this time I decided to really look inside of myself. Not with feelings of hate or bitterness. Instead I focus my thoughts on forgiveness, happiness, I ask God to help me. Was it all easy for me from that point on? of course not. Especially when my mother passed away, that hurt and sorry I felt was overwhelming. And at times it still is to this day.

I can never begin to tell everyone how difficult it is for people to come inside these Texas prisons and deal with all the madness that goes on in here.

If Texas could really take a long hard look at how broke in their prison system is, they could change it into a place of real rehabilitation. But it’s important to remember that no matter how difficult the situation is try to focus on what you’re learning from that experience. Another thing I’ve learned is when we are at our most vulnerable times, we are more open to looking inside ourselves for answers. A lot of prisoners lose a sense of the border between reality and allusion, they enter a different state of being. I’ve seen prisoners retreat into a different mind space of who they envision themselves to be. Especially the prisoners who’ve done decades in isolation or the ones who have a lot of time to do.

Sometimes inmates also find it easy to get lost in fantasy books or sit in front of the TV all day. They want to keep their mind so busy on other things that they never have time to look at themselves.

I can never stress enough how important it is to think not to allow our minds to run wild, but you control your thoughts and start directing them towards a goal. If we ever hope to accomplish something and grow both mentally and physically, we have to start controlling our thoughts first. Just because we went to prison doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Truthfully it is only the start of a new beginning. But of course, that choice is up to each of us, each and every person gets to choose which way his life goes once he or she steps inside prison and that choice will have a big impact on how your life goes once you leave.

Remember I’ve said this many times throughout my book, the puppet masters care less if you change. In fact, the last thing they want is for you to change. Anybody who’s been inside the Texas prison system knows that you’re nothing more than a slave. Someone to work the endless miles of the farmland they have to work in their factories, and to take care of all their needs. A lot of people will say well, that’s part of the game. But it’s a losing game for us, and it’s a winning game for the Texas prison system because they will have a lifetime A free labor out of you. all of us are better than that, truthfully we are smarter and stronger than they are.

The only thing that holds most prisoners back is their lack of looking inside themselves and learning from their mistakes. Why I understand that everyone in life makes mistakes, most people learn from them and avoid making that same mistake again. All of us in prison have the ability to succeed in life.

All of us dream of being rich and living a life of prosperity, there’s nothing wrong with that dream. But if you don’t look at your mistakes and learn from them you can forget about that ever happening, because your entire life will be spent inside the Texas prison system.

Take this opportunity and find out who you truly are. Focus all of your energy on bettering yourselves mentally as well as physically. Don’t waste this time because time is one of the important things we have. If prisoners would put half of their energy into doing good things as they did hustling in the streets, every single one of you would be way on your way to becoming millionaires. As I said at the beginning of this chapter, sometimes in life you never know how a certain situation you’re put in will change you forever. But whatever it is you’re facing you’ll have an opportunity to grow from each experience if you choose to. Learn to take Time and reflect on your difficult situations you go through. Remember it’s those difficult times that we usually learn life’s greatest lessons.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez