This is Your Awakening

Editor’s note: PW friend and researcher Carol Van Strum sent this piece to us today. She writes, “This was written by a prisoner who was Jordan’s cellmate for some years early on; a black man from rural Alabama. At the time he was in his early 50s and didn’t know how to read. Jordan started reading to him from the books and articles we sent daily, and taught him to read; a few years ago Paul sent a picture of himself proudly holding the GED certificate he’d earned. Since then I’ve continued sending him books and articles, and recently he sent this essay, which he asked me to type for him to give his son. The whole piece amazed me, as the only changes I made were to fix some spelling and break it into paragraphs. I hope others might appreciate it, too.”

Jordan wrote several pieces for PW under the name Enceno Macy while he was incarcerated. — Amanda P.

By Paul Grice

There comes a time in your life when you finally get it. You realize that it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to realize that any guarantee of happily ever after must begin with you.

Paul Grice, holding the GED he earned in 2011.

Paul Grice, holding the GED he earned in 2011.

In the process a sense of serenity is born. You have awakened to the fact that you are not perfect, and that not everyone will always love you, appreciate you, or approve of who you are. You have learned that not everyone will always be there for you, and that it’s not always about you. So now you are standing on your own.

In the process a sense of safety, security, and a new-found confidence is born. You stop judging and pointing fingers, and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings.

A sense of peace, forgiveness and contentment have been awakened within. You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you is the result of all the messages and opinions that have been engrained in your mind. Now you have to redefine who you are and what you really stand for. You have learned the difference between wanting and needing. You find yourself discarding the doctrines and values you have outgrown. You have learned to distinguish between guilt and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries. You have learned that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry.

You have learned that God isn’t punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. You have learned to deal with evil in its most primal state, “the ego.” You have learned that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected, or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You have learned to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You have learned to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things that we take for granted. Slowly you begin to take responsibility for yourself. You make a promise to try never to betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. You make a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility that comes your way.

With God by your side and courage in your heart, you have learned that what is most valuable is not what we have in our life, but who we have in our life. You have learned that a rich person is not one who has the most, but one who needs the least. You have learned that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success, you need direction, discipline, and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and it’s okay to risk asking for help.

You have learned about romance and familial love, how much to give, and when to stop giving, when to walk away. You have learned to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You have stopped trying to control people and situations and others’ outcomes. You have learned that just as people grow and change, so does love.

You have learned that fear has no more hold on you. You have learned to step right into it, because you know that whatever happens, you can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away your right to live.

You have learned that true happiness is not just achieving our goals, but learning who we are through striving towards them. And the greatest feeling is the feeling of triumph and knowing that though you have fallen into the biggest and deepest hole, with God’s help you dug yourself out and flipped it to make you a better person.

We are often judged by what we go through and encounter in situations. People often look down their noses on how we fell, rather than look at how we got up. Now that I have been awakened, they can’t hurt me any more. Everything is there to help me to become a better person — not just for myself, but for you, too.

This is my awakening.

12 thoughts on “This is Your Awakening

  1. Fe Bongolan

    From the first sentence onward, I was mesmerized reading this. I so appreciate the clarity, simplicity and the honesty of your words, which ring true whether you’ve been “inside” or not.

    Thank you Paul, for sharing your journey with us.

  2. Barbara Koehler

    I agree with Carol that Mr. Grice has written an amazing piece. How good it is to know that incarceration of a human being doesn’t have to have a bitter end. This man sounds like a monk living in a monastery rather than an inmate in prison (both 12th house symbolism) . God works in mysterious ways and Mr. Grice sounds devoted to more learning so as to do more teaching. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Len Wallick

    Mr. Grice: Thank you for so clearly expressing a timeless level of consciousness which sets an excellent example for any and all human beings everywhere. You have inspired and humbled me into a resolve to be and do better for myself and for the world. May this effort of yours result in your receiving return in kind. May your son receive this great gift of your wisdom with gratitude and pride.

  4. Michael Mayes

    Reading this right now in this moment when so many factors in my life have come to a head, some pleasant, some not so pleasant, this piece stands to affirm everything I’ve worked for, every trial I’ve been through, and everything in between that has led to this moment. Thank you, Paul.

    1. Alison Billings

      Echoing Michael’s thoughts, I find this piece incredibly moving, and affirming, at exactly the right moment. Thank you Carol and PW, for sharing and publishing this piece. Thank you Paul, for articulating the depth and breadth found in awakening. I will read this again and again as a gentle reminder of what I am working towards each day.

  5. Lizzy

    As Len says. Dear Paul, this is a time of struggle for me, and reading your words have helped me to persevere. The great suffering you must have been through has clearly been part of an extraordinary spiritual journey, and you have much to share with and give to others – the world needs people like you. Bless you and thank you, and thank you for this, Carol and PW.

  6. marie hawthorne

    Thank you, Paul, for sharing awakening with us all. It is a most wonderful blessing.

    Take my hand and rest with me
    Take my hand and rest with me
    In the darkness of night, when the moonlight is bright
    Take my hand rejoice with me.

    Take my hand and comfort me
    Take my hand and comfort me
    In the deepness of night, ‘til the daylight is bright
    Take my hand be soothed with me

    Take my hand and be with me
    Take my hand and be with me
    As the darkness of night forms to dawn’s mighty light
    Take my hand abide with me.

  7. Sara McNeil

    This is a lovely concise piece, and non-attachment.the virtues of authenticity and non-attachment. Thank you, Mr. Grace, for sharing your serenity with us, along with your son. You have distilled and refined your experience into something rich and beautiful.

  8. gumbybug2014

    Thank you Paul. Your soulful words have truly touched my heart and served to remind me of what’s truly important.

    (Hi Lizzy–Hang in there. Sending you big hug !)

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