“I heard them talking to one another in murmurs and whispers. They talked about illness, money, shabby domestic cares. Their talk painted the walls of a dismal prison in which men had locked themselves up. And suddenly I had a vision of the face of destiny.”
~Antoine de Saint Exupery
Someone reading this blog entry may actually be in prison. That is unlikely, but possible. It is much more likely that we are living in a prison without bars that we have constructed brick by brick in our own mind. Perhaps you are thinking that you are imprisoned by your job, your boss, your upbringing, your lack of money, health, or age. If think you are in prison, you are in prison, even if you are free. Perhaps the saddest dimension to this problem is that we tend to like the prison cells we have constructed in our own minds. They are familiar, comfortable, and safe.
"We are, each of us, our own prisoner. We are locked up in our own story."
~ (Maxine Kumin
Right now you are arguing with me. In your own mind you are telling me your story, “My case is different. I am really trapped by my lack of money, my lack of a college degree; I have to take care of my mother.” The list of your constraints is endless. The list of my constraints is endless. It is depressing.
If you are trapped in a real prison, it is up to you to devise and implement an escape plan. The warden is not interested in your problems. The guards certainly aren’t going to work for your release. While you can find a few cons you can trust, if most of your fellow inmates aren’t a direct danger to your personal safety, they would rat you out to the warden for a pack of cigarettes. Prisons really are not very nice places. Freedom has to start in your own mind. Perhaps you have information that could put Fat Tony Four Fingers behind bars that you could trade for your freedom, but then you would spend the rest of your life in a different kind of prison, the witness protection program. Perhaps you could dig your way out with a tablespoon. It has been done. Maybe you could take courses and get a law degree. Once you had that degree you could bring so many lawsuits against the warden, the prison, the guards, and the State that they will pay you money to go away and leave them alone. That happens.
It is more likely that you are not in a physical prison but one constructed in your own mind by your circumstances. It is still up to you to devise and implement an escape plan. There are a few trustworthy people in your life who will help you, but most of your friends, coworkers, and even family members will be there telling you what you can’t do. They aren’t going to help you escape. Don’t expect the Government, politicians, your bank, corporations, or your bosses to help you escape, they all profit by keeping you weak and dependent. They want to keep you on their particular version of a chain gang, whether the chains are taxes, debt, or your paycheck, your sweat is buying someone’s private jet. That includes the biggest, baddest, private jet in the world, Air Force 1.
Stop for a day.
Don’t tell me you can’t do it. How much TV do you watch every day? How many hours do you spend surfing the Web or watching stupid animal tricks on Facebook? Take a conscious inventory of your life. Locate the bars, the walls, the locks, the guard towers, the searchlights, everything that keeps you in chains. A good place to start is constructing a balance sheet of your energy assets and energy liabilities. What make you feel alive? What sucks the energy out of your life like a hungry vampire? While you look at the sheet, ask the question, “Why don’t I have the energy I need to do (fill in the blank)?”
I am trying to improve my diet. Salty snacks are one of my weaknesses. So why is there an extra large family size box of Cheez-Its in my pantry? Don’t worry it won’t be there for long, but will it be replaced?
Pick one thought that is limiting you, holding you back, sucking your energy; decide that you are going to do something, how ever small, to break that chain. It may be nothing more than saying, “No.” to an unreasonable demand from a supervisor or a parent (assuming you are an adult). Perhaps you need to say, “No.” to an unhealthy relationship with a friend, a religious group, or a family member. Maybe you just need to put on a pair of shoes, turn off the TV, and go for a walk. Is it dangerous? Maybe? Attempted escape is classified as a felony in most states, but is freedom worth the risk?
Living your life is your responsibility. There are teachers who can show you the way. They have escaped from a situation like yours or perhaps something much worse than what you face. However, it is up to you to break the chains. Nobody else can do that for you.
"Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds."
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt