Cellblock G: Birth of a Stoic

ChazeK

Padawan Learner
My face and knuckles are riddled with scars.

When one begins to carefully analyze these riddles, they unfold a chronicle of tales; stories embedded in flesh that illuminate the history of this person, and how they came to be whom they currently are. My history is decorated with violence. To most, that would seem unfortunate. To some others, this could be seen as a Trial by Fire, so to speak.

Now mind you, I am not proud of a lot of things I have experienced in life. But those things are what give substance to my story, and open a window of perspective for others. It also exemplifies a living example that no matter what background someone comes from, no matter how horribly one may judge themselves because of their past, there is always a possibility of changing course. When you begin to believe that, with every ounce of your being, you obtain a source of power that can catapult you beyond any obstacle life has to throw at you.

They say you fight the hardest when you start from behind... Well, that's true. And because of that, I've dreamed the "impossible" my entire life.

For those of you who aren't familiar with me, I should properly inform you that some of my poorly made decisions in young adulthood landed me in the Florida Department of Corrections. I practically went in as a child, and had to learn how to adapt/survive amongst men. Men of the most predatory nature. And they don't give out "how to" manuals in there. So you gotta figure out how things work, and you gotta figure out fast.

You can't hide in a den of lions.

Violence quickly becomes your "normal" in there. You eventually become so desensitized to the aptitude of cruelty and inhumanity that you may be trying to sleep one night, and across from you lies a man being beaten almost to death by a rival gang. You never even roll over. "Not my business.." And it's that very mentality that will keep you alive in there.

Understanding that, you can see the level of conditioning/programming that enters the psyche of someone. It's like a disease; one that you can't shake off.. For the atmosphere, the very air you breathe is heavily tainted with a pathogen called hatred. You can meditate, you can pray, you can try to avoid problems as much as possible, and you can work every day of your life in there to purify the mind and soul, but the darkness there is thick, and there is no area that isn't affected. You will learn to greatly respect this presence.

While I was in Bay, I got accepted into a program that focused on behavioral management and also helped recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. This was G Dorm. This part of the human observatory had slightly stricter rules, but allowed me access to more literature than my previous dormitory. Most of these books were Christian-themed, but I found some works by Jung and Nietzsche circulating around the block. Reading these really opened me up to broader understandings of myself that I had never before considered. But it was in the act of trying to barter one of these books for something new that I came across another piece of work.. It was a book about Stoicism. It was short, simple, and easy to read, but the profound effect it had on me was noticeable almost immediately. I stayed tucked away on my bunk reading, and rereading this book, almost upset at myself that I couldn't have discovered this perspective on life sooner... As it was so easy to understand.

Life hits us with challenges, set backs, merely tests designed specifically for us to determine our will own power and ability to persevere.

Suddenly, my interactions changed while dealing with my peers and affiliates. While the usual griping and moaning about redundant life was the normal centerpiece of conversations, I had absolutely no interest in partaking in these small-talks any longer. When I started philosophizing about my newfound perspective on life in the inside, attempting to motivate and empower my "friends", it was met with discontentment and apathy mostly. But I didn't lose sight, for I knew if I kept myself under the radar and steadily working, I was going to get to go home at the beginning of the following year.

An older gentleman that I'll call "Jay" took notice of this though. He approached me one day while we were working out on the yard, and sparked up quite an unexpected conversation. We chopped it up for the rest of that evening, discussing mostly Stoic philosophy and how it was practical in our current environment. This turned into somewhat of an operation for us, since all we truly cared about was learning and personal development. (We both had upcoming release dates, and had every intention to NEVER come back to this place.) That is quite the task to maintain though when you constantly have 250+ people crammed into a space where tensions are ALWAYS high, and the drug/contraband trade is influencing almost every interaction around you.

But damn do I love a challenge.

The following months were like a re-birthing process for me. The young, angry, myopic and reckless version of me was slowly deteriorating, and in turn was the unfolding of a character of impeccable nature (or at least the closest that one could get to) in a place where it's deemed "impossible". Matter of fact, now that I look back, from the moment I picked up that book on Stoicism, I never engaged in an act of violence again while I was there. Knowledge truly is protection.

From the day I was released, I never looked back to my ways of old. Sure, I've slipped, stumbled, and detoured from doing the essential spiritual work that the immutable self requires, but I've ALWAYS came back to my "senses". I left the impoverished/victim mentality in the past, and have learned how to maneuver through the thicket of pretty much any situation. I had all the practice you could imagine.

I was battle tested.. I know how to survive.

That period of my life was one of the greatest series of lessons I have ever learned. Being faced with all of those things, and doing so at such a young age forced me to awaken. (On top of the fact that I had also just discovered that "aliens" were not only real, but I was possibly a slave to them.. But I covered that in an older thread.) Some people uncover the truth of themselves and what they are capable of in a subtle manner, (for lack of a better term, because I don't think anyone's awakening to our hidden reality is a dance under sunshine and rainbows) and some of us are violently shaken awake. Either way, it doesn't matter how our soul's eye is opened, what matters is what we do after we see what really is. The rest is what counts.

The idea of being a Stoic, especially in the face of both the personal and global challenges that we are currently and further going to face actually makes this exciting for me. Little did I know, but I was being prepared for even greater potential challenges down the road, and it ain't so easy to knock me off my axis anymore. I expect it now. And I can feel my soul growing every moment that the odds continue to stack against me.

There are things worse than death, and I've witnessed them. Therefore, I cannot be scared into paralysis with the idea of dying. So every threat sponsored to me only drives me more to continue stacking, stone by stone, that bridge of opportunity that lends a path over rough waters for others of an "unfortunate" background. We tend to become the "forgottens" in society.. But I remember. I remember wishing that I could find the light. And when I couldn't... I decide to become it.

God lives in Cellblock G.
 

JeanneT

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I was feeling a bit vulnerable today while reviewing some self identified shortcomings along with some depression over the state of the world and my place in it. Your story, ChazK, so well written and insightful, quickly brought me to some balance. Adversity truly has made me stronger and has been a catalyst for growth in ways that cannot be measured. Then I remembered a book I had ordered on stoicism but never finished. It is exactly what I need right now....maybe it is about securing my foundation which is strong but can use some re-enforcement, especially at this time.
 

SOTTREADER

The Living Force
I have a question - when reading the above chapter, I couldn't help but think of literal soldiers who come back "home" after being away at "war" and the challenges they face when they come back.

I wonder, with your experiences and having been in the Corrections facility for an unspecified period how are your experiences being back in "society" as it were surrounded by "normies"? How do you see yourself in relation to normies (or "civilians" as soldiers would call normies) and the society you have to live in which must be different to the Corrections facility.
 

ChazeK

Padawan Learner
I was feeling a bit vulnerable today while reviewing some self identified shortcomings along with some depression over the state of the world and my place in it. Your story, ChazK, so well written and insightful, quickly brought me to some balance. Adversity truly has made me stronger and has been a catalyst for growth in ways that cannot be measured. Then I remembered a book I had ordered on stoicism but never finished. It is exactly what I need right now....maybe it is about securing my foundation which is strong but can use some re-enforcement, especially at this time.

I’m glad my writing could offer whatever assistance possible! For me, it takes a little reminding from time to time that everything in life is a sort of test in it’s own rites. When viewed from that perspective, you realize that there’s a reward at the end of the lesson. That’s all I need for motivation to make sure that I pass the test!

Me too, reading your first chapter story gave me a pick up today that I really needed. What is the title of the book you refer to?

Wow, I don’t want to butcher this because it’s been about 8 years now, but I’m pretty sure it was a book about Seneca. I faintly remember his name being in the title. I didn’t get to keep this book, because it was another inmate’s, but I can attest to the personal power it unlocked within me!

I have a question - when reading the above chapter, I couldn't help but think of literal soldiers who come back "home" after being away at "war" and the challenges they face when they come back.

I wonder, with your experiences and having been in the Corrections facility for an unspecified period how are your experiences being back in "society" as it were surrounded by "normies"? How do you see yourself in relation to normies (or "civilians" as soldiers would call normies) and the society you have to live in which must be different to the Corrections facility.

To be honest with you, it wasn’t all too difficult for me to readjust. I already understood that the person I had to be in there wasn’t the person I had to be in the “free” world. I just simply had to adapt to my environment, strictly for survival. It felt good to be removed from all the violence!

Imagine getting used to walking, talking, eating, and sometimes accidentally sleeping with a razor blade tucked in your cheek. Now imagine the relief you feel that you don’t have to live like that anymore!! Although I will confess, I still sleep with a knife under my mattress. Always better to be safe than sorry.

But experiencing all of that, I’m sure I still have some embedded traumas I need to sort through, understand, heal and release, but it’s made me respect everyone I come into contact with a lot more. I under there are many others who have gone through much harsher experiences in life, and they are still alive to tell their tales too. I look at them as teachers to be greatly respected.

All I want to do now is move on from that though. This was what opened me up to my own spiritual awakening, and hastened my desire to learn, as much as I possibly could. I’m thankful for these experiences. They are what brought me to all of you. 🤝

You are so right about Stoicism, ChazeK. It is by far the best mindset that we need to endure current global upheaval. You prison experience has prepared you to see deep into the darkness. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for listening, friend.
 
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