Vroom, Vroom… The sound of the chainsaw fills the air on this cold, brisk morning. Eucalyptus and decades-old oak trees are abundant, along with the layers of rolling hills across the horizon. I’ve been at it for three hours now, with sawdust flying as I cut down row after row of fallen eucalyptus trees. It’s funny to think that I never expected to be doing forestry work during my time here. I had imagined something more along the lines of kitchen detail, laundry, or some other menial tasks. However, I’m actually enjoying the work and its perks. Being able to be outdoors has given me a newfound appreciation for nature, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. It’s also allowing me to reconnect with my core values of hard work and determination.
It has been three months since I arrived at the camp, and life here has been filled with ups and downs. It has been a time of both angst and valuable life lessons. I can confidently say that I’ve learned more in this short time than I have in recent memory. I’ve been able to establish consistent habits and a schedule that I’ve desired for a long time. I wake up at 5:30 AM, meditate, read my daily passage, and dive into the current book I’m reading, “The Way of The Warrior” by Erwin McManus. After that, I work out, engage in forestry work, and tutor fellow inmates. Some may find this schedule monotonous or repetitive, but I find comfort in its consistency and productivity. I now have plenty of time for self-reflection, analyzing patterns, behaviors, and actions that have led to certain outcomes.
I’ve met people from all walks of life during my time here and have formed close bonds with a few, including “John,” a retired stockbroker from Santa Monica, and “Eddie,” an engineer/hacker from Burbank. I’ll share more about them later. Life at Lompoc has been like a roller coaster, but my core mission remains the same and unwavering. I am seeking redemption and striving to realign my core values and moral compass. My forestry work has played a significant role in this journey, as it has helped me understand the importance of ethics, value, and determination. Working alongside my partner, we have great synergy and enjoy our time on the job. As we drive through the compound from one task to another, we listen to music from bands like Iration, Alice in Chains, and Stick Figure, which brings back memories of home. Despite facing ridicule from other inmates for “working too damn hard for free,” they don’t realize that we are laying the foundation that will make our reintegration into the “real world” much smoother. Sure, I could spend my time sleeping or watching mindless TV, but how can I expect to perform or live my life at the highest level upon my release? That’s the question I ask myself throughout the day.
My mind is clear, and my body is undergoing a significant transformation. The groundwork and hard work start now. The bi-weekly visits with my boys serve as a daily reminder and motivation to keep pushing, to go the extra mile. When I feel weak, I think of my boys. When I’m down to my last rep and add another 45lb plate, I think of my boys. I aspire to be the best version of myself for them and envision a life together. A fit body and a mentally sharp state of mind are what I strive for. Life on the outside continues, and I fully understand that. I know my return will be soon, so my commitment to ensuring that my life is better than ever and that I live life at the highest level of performance in all aspects remains strong. I know many of you are interested in what I’m doing with a chainsaw and want to know more about “John” and “Eddie,” and you will. I wanted to touch base with all of you and keep you in the loop. I hope you’ve all been well, and I can’t wait to take you all along on my spiritual journey!