March marks a year since I started volunteering at Monroe. A short list of the ways my life has changed since March, 2008.

 

  1. left a six year relationship
  2. house-sat for various folks for 6 months
  3. finally moved into my own apartment the beginning of this month, which required a move from the north end of the island to the south end
  4. started a new job, working full time
  5. finished my internship, which began this whole journey
  6. began my last semester of school
  7. continued with my various follow up appointments related to my 2007 cancer diagnosis
  8.  received my first “clean bill of health” March 11, 2009

 

It’s been a full year indeed. More full than is probably good for one’s mental health.

 

But there is another list, and that is the list of ways I have changed since beginning the work at Monroe.

  1.  I am more compassionate – for myself, and especially for others.
  2.  I am more aware of the fact that there are multiple perspectives on every story and we are well served (as writers and as individuals) to explore them all.
  3.  I understand there is nothing – nothing! – in life that can be considered as easy as “black and white”.
  4.   I understand that being on the side of “right” is often dependent on the privileges and opportunities with which you were born and to be on the side of “wrong” is often (not always, but often) not a choice but a series of complex missteps and misinformation leading up to a tragic mistake.
  5.    I understand that writing is as an activity most easily enjoyed by those who are “free” to write without censor. What the men in prison do is defy that censorship – at times at great cost to their personal safety. So if you are “free” and a writer, then damn-it quit whining and write!
  6.  I now believe I am lucky, and a little bit blessed.
  7.  I now understand that bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things. Most of the men in our group at Monroe are good people – believe it or not.
  8.  I now believe my writing here on this blog and beyond will one day make a difference. I know that the writings of the man in our group have already changed my life.
  9. I now know I will do this work forever, if I can, in one way or another. I will always leave room in my life for those spending their nights in a cell.
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