Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

As loneliness, along with other anxiety-ridden feelings, emerge and linger, I’ve made up my mind to be positive. After all, things could be so much worse. 

For me, it’s all about perspective: how I choose to view life’s adversities. I think Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl said it best: “The last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Of course, I had to learn this philosophy the hard way. 

In my stupid youth, I embraced a fatalistic perspective. My fate was either prison or death as a result of the choices I made. Poor choices that promised me nothing other than negative results. In order for me to reach that level of low, I had to ignore all the good, all the right, and all the positive in my life. I took a lot for granted. That was then. Now you can’t pay me to call it a bad day. Rain? Clouds? It’s still a beautiful day; my glass is half-full, everything is rose-colored. 

In addition to harnessing my perspective, what I had to learn was resilience. I had to learn how to bounce back from the inevitable adversities life has delivered. I call them challenges. We all have our challenges, and we’re all capable of conquering them. 

The truth is, there are a lot of problems in the world. But there’s definitely more right than wrong, more fixed than broken, more love than hate. Otherwise, life would have swallowed us up by now. And at the end of the day, you can’t have a testimony without a trial first, right? So I have learned to welcome the challenges. Like a pugilist in the ring, I am willing and ready. 

As an incarcerated person, I miss my family every day. There’s not a minute that goes by where I don’t fervently wish to be with my kin. And with the coronavirus, I can’t even enjoy them through glass. Unfortunately, neither can you, free people. Health experts won’t allow it. 

Now we’re truly all in this together. We’re all discouraged from visiting family during this holiday season. It’s sad — really sad. Yet, that is the reality of things, and looking at it from a healthy perspective doesn’t mean ignoring the reality. The perspective I now choose to employ is this: by refraining from visiting those I love, I am actually saving their lives, and they are saving mine. 

The bigger picture is to live another day, and another, until we reach the day when we’re all COVID-free, healthy, and safe. 

The way I see it, with all the rain checks I’m owed for hugs, by the time we’re safe again, I’ll be one warm, beloved, and happy man. It’s a choice, you know. ’Cause it’s all about perspective.

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Dortell Williams

Dortell Williams is a writer incarcerated at California State Prison - Los Angeles County. He recently completed his B.A. in communication studies through California State University - Los Angeles.