One Gives You Life, the Other Gives You Death

By Jay Goodman

Sometimes it seems like every conversation I have with people in here it’s negative. When you live in a cell Block with 128 people, eventually you will get to know each other. Maybe not on a real friendship level, but on a casual speaking level. A lot of people in here seem to only want to talk about what’s wrong, very few want to actually have an uplifting conversation. Or even talk about something that has meeting.

I did a little experiment over the last month with the people in my cell Block. I decided to ask every person I speak with on a regular basis a question. Each day I’d say, “how are you doing brother?” Or if it was toward the evening, I would ask, “how was your day?” For the most part what I asked everyone how you doing brother? I’d hear them say, “it’s going to be one of those days.” Some would reply, “look who we got working.” Probably 10% would actually smile an answer, I’m good, and asked how I was doing. A lot of the other ones I asked in the evening, how was your day? They would usually begin telling me what all is going wrong. Whether it was at work, their job, or how they’re upset with someone in here. Every now and then I would hear someone say, I had a good day. Some of the conversations I try to lean our talks toward something positive. And the person would at times agree, but more often than not they were slowly start leaning the conversation back to what’s wrong in their lives.

One guy was telling me how his mom wouldn’t do what he wanted fast enough. I asked, “if she would eventually do it?” He said “yes, but that’s not what I told her.” It seems like most prisoners have a tendency to complain, or to only look at what’s wrong. Don’t get me wrong, prison life is stressful. Plus, as the years pass by it’s only natural to miss life, and to miss our loved ones. At times it can become overwhelming. I understand this better than anyone. But everyone should reach a point that we eventually come to realize, to let all of our cares and worries girl. Because in all actuality no matter what’s going on, at the end of the day we have no control. Worrying will never solve anything. I have also learned that worrying will only bring one more worry. That’s not to say that worry won’t sneak up on us from time to time. But that’s where we have to learn not to let it control our emotions. Almost everyone who lives around me, allows their emotions to do most of their thinking. They get frustrated with others in here, and maybe it’s with good reason. But they are allowing that to control all of their thoughts. And by doing this, they spend their entire day focused on why they’re mad. Never realizing that they are the ones who are miserable. What we think about, we bring about. And of course, if we are thinking with anger, that will be your dominant thought. You will find one thing after another to be angry about. Remember there is constructive thought, and there is negative thought. It’s up to each person to decide which one you want to dominate your mind. Most people let the negative thinking control their entire being. Never realizing that if they would turn the situation in their mind, they would soon be watching a new movie. The new station could bring them joy and happiness, and a whole new look on life. Pressures are no different than people in the free world. Most want the American dream of having a good wife, a beautiful home, being wealthy, and enjoying life. The only difference is they’re thinking on how to obtain that dream.

The people in the free world understand that it will come in time, while the prisoners thinking is they want it now. And by any means necessary. As I had written a few chapters ago how prisoners seem to have this fantasy of becoming rich by selling drugs. This is one of the biggest curses for a lot of people in here. Even the ones who have learned there are other ways to get rich. After people have done a lot of years in prison, they start realizing that they have missed out on what they could’ve did, and believe once they leave, the only true way for them to catch up in life, is for them to sell drugs. Like I said, that type of thinking has been a curse for millions of people. I once read that it’s impossible for someone to change their thinking if they continue to dwell on what they did wrong. And was not able to look at their mistakes and acknowledge that it’s not the right path. This is a different problem for many, they are too anxious, they manifest anxiety, fear, distress; they want to do something, they want to help; but they are like a child who has just planted a seed and every 15 minutes goes and stirs up the earth to see if it’s growing. Of course, under such circumstances, the seed will never germinate, and yet this is exactly what many of us do in the mental world.

If everyone could realize that all of their dreams are right before they’re very eyes. All of the things they have wanted in life are waiting for them. The only difference between the past and now, is to change the way you plan on obtaining what you want in life. I mean if you want to be a millionaire, does it really matter how you get the million? This is why I have written so much about changing the way you think. Because if you change your thinking it will change your life. In fact, it’s the only way to change the course of your life. And that is why most prisoners continue coming back, they continue thinking the same as they did before. So, nothing changes. Nothing except they spend their whole lives incarcerated. Let’s face it, if what brought YouTube prison didn’t work the first time, what makes you think it’s going to work the second time? And for most people in prison, it’s way beyond the second time.

I read once a question that really made me sit back for a minute and look at myself. The question is, what is a mistake? The result of ignorance. Then he asked, what is knowledge? The result of the man’s ability to think. After I thought about this for a while, I couldn’t help but realize how true this was. I didn’t care for the writer’s use of the word ignorance. But after I thought about it, I came to understand how true it was. Because how many of us in life when faced with a question about why we did something wrong? Said I don’t know why I did it. There’s even been times when I have set a low looking back over my life and ask myself, what the hell was you thinking Jay?

And I finally realized what the problem was, I was thinking. Because if I had been thinking I would’ve never done what I did. When I first realized this for the first time, I started to understand the answer to my problem. Then it hit me, his second question was, what is knowledge? The result of man’s ability to think. Now with this understanding, I started really looking at my past. Then I started thinking about my future. As I thought more and more, I started seeing what my future would be if I kept on allowing my thoughts to run wild. As I look at my fellow prisoners today, it’s easy for me to understand why most of them do the things they do. They’re in ability to think, will keep them coming back to prison until they either figure it out, or they’ll grow old in here and die.

Remember, as I’ve said before. It takes just as much energy to think positive as it does to think negative. It takes just as much energy to do good as it does to do bad. The only difference is one will make you prosper, and the other will put you in prison. The choice would seem to be easy, but amazingly it’s not for the majority of prisoners. Even for the ones I’ve explained it to, seem to understand what I’m saying, but go right back to the same old thinking that led them to prison to begin with. It’s like showing a person who is sick from high blood pressure, or diabetes that if you stop eating these types of food and start exercising, these problems you have will go away. But if you don’t you will probably die.

One would think it would be an easy choice. I mean one gives you life, why the other will give you death. It’s an easy choice, isn’t it? One would assume it would be. Life is good, there is a wonderful life waiting for every prisoner. All that is required from you is to change your thinking.

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