Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Domingo Alvarez E via Unsplash

Today I write to you from the confines of my cell here in Corcoran State Prison, in hopes of reaching the youth of today. 

Although things may seem unpredictable day-to-day, the fact is that this is the new normal. I hope that you are all able to cope with this even though we all already have enough problems to begin with. 

There may come a time or a situation that you feel is too much to handle, and that is perfectly fine. That’s life, and in life, we all learn how to pick ourselves up and move forward. 

If your emotions happen to get the best of you, then so be it — it’s more normal than you think. In fact, it is those very emotions that I want to shed a little light on, because in difficult times, feeling and acknowledging them is just as necessary as being strong and courageous.

They say boys and real men don’t cry. Well, it’s a lie. For starters, if you look up stigma in the dictionary or in Wikipedia, you’ll find that the definition is “a mark of shame.” 

Think about this for a second: If a young boy or a grown man loses his mother or his father to COVID-19, and he sheds a single tear, would you see that as a mark of shame?

That’s part of the healing process. It’s how we let out our pain and move on in life. 

What about happy tears, something you may experience in a happy or proud moment? I’ve been away from my three sons, now all grown up, for almost 14 years. If I were right in front of them, I’d lose it. Now tell me, should I be ashamed? No. It’s an expression of a deep longing and love. 

I’m thinking about this expression of emotion because today my own eyes filled with joyous tears because I got to watch mankind take a huge step forward, I saw the NASA/SpaceX Launch. 

It was something I truly needed at a time like this, when you can’t turn on the TV without seeing the rising death toll from the coronavirus, or how the president is more worried about Twitter than making things better. Then, to make matters worse, you see that there has been yet another senseless murder of an unarmed African-American man. So for those that think that a grown man covered in tattoos from head to toe, sitting in a prison cell, doesn’t get emotional over real-life issues — you’re living in a dream world. 

Cherish those you love, protect yourselves and take the necessary COVID-19 precautions, because people of all ages are getting sick. 

Last but not least, get emotional. Remember that it’s perfectly fine to let the tears flow from time to time. It is, in fact, necessary. 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

D.A. Gamboa is a writer incarcerated in California. D.A. Gamboa has requested that his first name be withheld.