serving time

Serving Time Without Credit

Living life while waiting to report to Yankton Federal Prison Camp

I recently became aware of a story called the Sword of Damocles.

The story centers on a king named Dionysius II, who ruled over the Sicilian city of Syracuse. He was unhappy due to the number of enemies he had and his subsequent fear of assassination. One day Dionysius offered one of his servants, Damocles, the chance to experience the life of a king. Damocles lived well – the servants, the food, the luxury. He enjoyed this lifestyle but noticed that Dionysius hung a razor-sharp sword from the ceiling, perfectly positioned over Damocles’ head. This made it impossible for Damocles to enjoy the fruits of his life, never knowing when the sword would fall. Fortunately for Damocles, he was able to be excused from this trial life as a king.

This is not the case for all of us in this position – we cannot simply ask to have all of our fears go away. We are stuck below the sword, waiting for it to fall, and there is any number of things that the blade can fall on. Serving time without credit, I’ve been told, can be worse than actually being in prison.

Some days you run out of energy and can’t stress anymore. Other times you’re living in the moment, and you forget – or as Eckart Tolle has taught me, living in the present because that’s all we have (more on his writing to come). Either way, those times are the ones to enjoy. Because at the end of the day, week, month, or whatever your reporting period, you realize that you do not gain anything from the stress. Whatever you are putting your energy into stressing about (and the list of potential topics is endless), it does not get you anywhere. Leaving your loved ones, losing your job or business, your identity, reputation, colleagues, what you do with yourself during the day, and your vision of what the future should/could/would have been. It is understandable to relish in these thoughts, but also hopeless. Because no amount of yearning or despair will bring any of these back to the way they were. Trust me, I’ve put in the requisite amount of time pondering how my life should have gone, and it didn’t turn back time or allow me to change the past.

Planning and working towards your goals will. Sometimes it seems futile, but it is the only way forward. Rebuilding after a conviction and prison sentence to me feels akin to trying to replant all the grass in a lawn one seed at a time. Surely anyone would rather be lying in the grass soaking up the sun on a warm evening, but instead, you’re painstakingly replanting individual seeds one by one. No matter how much you’d rather not be planting grass, it is the only path – a slow and arduous journey to try and get back to not only where you were but better than that. Deep down inside, I know that there will be a lush yard to lay down in one day, but there’s a lot of planting to be done in the meantime.

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