April 26, 2012
When I thought of writing this article, I planned to write about the inmates at the Angola State Prison Rodeo. It’s held at the Louisiana State Penitentiary with actual inmates as the rodeo participants! You can check out some pictures on my Facebook page.
However, before I had a chance to start writing this week, I had a new injury on Wednesday night. This injury is not to be confused with my broken hand that happened five weeks ago!
I’m in a kickball league, and I was running to catch a fly ball in the outfield when I realized I wouldn’t get it in the air and slowed down. At the same time, I stepped into a hole on the field and went down. I looked around and asked my wife what happened because I thought I got hit on the back of the ankle with a baseball or someone kicked me.
Long story short, I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I visit the surgeon tomorrow, but Achilles injuries are known as one of the longest healing times of any injury… so I’m not too excited about that. Now, time to tie in these two stories…
I mentioned earlier we talked to some of the inmates at Angola. The particular inmate that caught my attention the most was David. He was found guilty of second-degree murder in 1978. He admitted he did it, called it a mistake, and said he doesn’t really even remember it because he was on drugs. Obviously, he earned his way to prison.
I was able to talk to David because in addition to the inmate rodeo, there’s an area where you can buy crafts and handiworks from the inmates. We previously heard inmates were caged off from the public, but it turns out not all of them are. There are different levels of ‘trustee’ status for the inmates, and the inmates with the highest trustee status were standing by their tables and mingling with the public.
They sell the “crafts” they make, but the crafts are hand-made furniture, incredible paintings, jewelry, and many other items. They have some amazing artists, and David is included in this group. His art consisted of small sculptures, hand made wooden bowls, and professional paintings.
David studied engineering and architecture in college before he made his big mistake. He said he always had an eye for design and depth, but he never painted before he was in prison. It wasn’t until he got thrown in jail that he learned to hone in his artistic talents.
Then I asked him why he paints. He got emotional and paused for a minute. He said when people get thrown into prison for life, they have to make some decisions. Some turn to religion, others lift weights, and some go down the wrong route of increased violence and roguishness.
David doesn’t have a family and he didn’t know when he’d get out. However, he said he wants to leave a legacy in the world besides the violence he originally initiated. His goal is to leave his beautiful art as his legacy.
He never discovered his passion for art and painting until he was due to spend his life in jail. He may never experience the freedom that his art will.
Ok, back to tying these two stories together. I loved playing my 3 games of kickball before I got injured. It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I got into the “adult world”… something I’ve waited 8 years for. I finally got my chance in New Orleans and talked enough friends into joining me. My wife even plays, and we had some great bonding through the first three games.
I’m now going to go through ~3 months of pain before I can start getting back to normalcy. Surgery, casts, crutches, walking boots, and physical therapy. However, I still got to play the game.
David is stuck in the pen due to a climactic bad decision that was probably fed by many previous bad decisions. He didn’t do or find what he loved until he gave up his freedom.
My question for you. Are you playing it too safe in life in an attempt to prevent injuries – both physically and mentally? Are you like the inmates who don’t find what they love doing until after their free lives are forfeited – a love and passion that might have saved them from making bad mistakes in the first place?