Life With No Possibility of Parole

I have recently been watching a series about men in prisons entitled “Lock-up”.  The series examines life behind bars particularly for men sentenced to “life without the possibility of parole.”  These men know they are where they will eventually die.  No outings for them, no change of scenery, no chance to get away from there, like getting to the end of the line but unable to get off of the bus.  Many of these men create diversions for themselves from the numbness of their lives.  Some get involved in art, poetry-writing, song-writing, body-building, even saddle restoration!

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGEWhen asked by the filmmaker why one man made artwork that no one would ever see, the man said that by creating artwork he was also creating some meaning in the midst of a meaningless life.  The work made him happy within the context of a profoundly unhappy existence.  How many of us live a numbed life, a “life without the possibility of parole?”  Perhaps some of the trouble we get into in our lives has to do with our search for meaningfulness?  Too often we think that meaningfulness is synonymous with a high price tag as if real happiness has to cost us a year’s wages.  Why do we think that?  The magnitude of the night sky is free for the staring.  Flowers don’t charge us for their scent.  Birds sing even without applause.

One of the points that the prison series film makes is that we can be happy no matter the circumstances of our life.  Many saints and seers from various religious traditions also make exactly this point.  If our life feels numb perhaps we should examine why we want what we want and why we seem unable to appreciate what we have.  Perhaps we should question whether or not we should want what we want.  Perhaps the happiness we yearn for is actually simple and within our reach, not “out there” were we to only seek it in the ordinariness of our days.  If men in prison can find some happiness in the midst of hopelessness why can’t we?  Is yours a “life without the possibility of parole?”  If so, why?

Kahuna-pule Kimo

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9 Responses to Life With No Possibility of Parole

  1. Become happy: think each evening of three things to be grateful for.

  2. Wow, a question I ask myself more and more the older I get. Yes, I am constantly seeking the elusive “happiness”. It seems to flit in and out of focus much like the flowers I photo that are blowing in the breeze. I have come to truly understand that happiness does come within, with the ability to not “listen” to the voice of others and society telling us what ought to make us happy. Great insights!

    • WOW! You really got to the heart of the matter! We tend to take so many cues from Society and our environment that it isn’t until our “daily reference-point” is altered (going to “prison”) that we get a chance to look at things differently! You are extremely fortunate to be pursuing your photography (and so brilliantly, I might add) through your blogsite. It gives you the opportunity to “see things differently” because as an artist you are looking at the world from a different perspective than in day-to-day living! GORGEOUS photos! BRAVO!
      Kahuna-pule Kimo

  3. Reblogged this on AllThingsBoys Blog and commented:
    What defines your happiness? An excellent thought provoking article.

  4. To be happy remove the things that make you unhappy.
    These guys are fed everyday, they have somewhere warm, somewhere to sleep, they have free health care, they know what there day will be tomorrow and the day after – offer that to a considerably number of people and they would tell you it would make them happy to be given it.

    • To me the most unbelievable thing is that with whatever their “crime” was they were making the choice that what Society offered day-to-day was not good enough for them and therefore Society’s rules no longer applies to them! Having made that kind of “mental leap” I would wager that just about anything Society offers them now (like the unencumbered lifestyle you described) would also hold less-or-NO value!
      Kahuna-pule Kimo

  5. The sad thing about people who have had long stays in prison is that they tend to re-offend again because prison offers them basically free bed and board which they wouldn’t get outside. Very good post I enjoyed reading this!
    Garry

    • Thank-you, Garry! Yes, it’s quite a topic and getting a wide array of responses. I’m so glad you took the time to send me this comment. Without them I don’t have the “full picture”!!
      Kahuna-pule Kimo

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