There are many vices in prison to placate the dull reality. Drugs are just as rampant behind the walls as they are on the streets, and ten times more profitable. Alcohol was rampant also, from the homemade variety (called buck) to real liquor smuggled in from the outside. Pornography was the main vice to help prisoners “get through” the hard time. From magazines to DVD’s, it was all there. I never really indulged in the pornography, other than a few cursory glances here and there. I saw how other guys were led by their passions, almost to a zombie-like level. To me, that was a desecration of their manhood, for surely these guys wouldn’t have behaved like that in free society! I vowed early on not to adopt personal double-standards. Whatever I wouldn’t do in free society, I wouldn’t do back there. To do so, would signify defeat, and I refused to allow the system to break me. Besides, I’d experienced enough women to carry me a lifetime. Not to mention, an ideal woman was carved into my psyche, so the carbon copies wouldn’t suffice. As for the other vices, I kept my distance from the drugs and alcohol for a few reasons. I dabbled with drugs in my youth on both sides of the coin. When I put it behind me, I put it behind me. I’d never been a big drinker in free society, so there was no way I was going to trust some alcohol brewed in the cafeteria. It was bad enough I had to partake of the horrible food that was prepared in there. Incidentally, specially prepared food was one thing I did indulge in. For the right price, enterprising cooks would whip up anything you could imagine and bring it right to your room door. I was definitely one of their best customers.
Another outlet was games and sports. Yet, like everything else in prison you had to exercise caution. As much as I love to play basketball, I quickly realized that the basketball court was a minefield. You had to tread lightly and carefully, lest you could find yourself in a battle for your life before you even realized you offended someone. Pick-up games were also the place some guys used to inflict their retribution if they felt some type of way about you without legitimate cause. Routine picks would feel like elbow strikes from Jon Jones if someone had an illegitimate problem with you. Despite this, from time to time, my love of the game still drew me to the court to torch the nets (and I even threw a few hard elbows myself.) I also learned to play handball as well, and grew to love the game as a great stress reliever. There is nothing like swinging at a small blue ball as hard as you can while picturing an imaginary enemy to reduce stress! There was also less drama on the handball side because mostly white inmates prowled that side of the recreation field. Being the minority in prison, white inmates rarely rushed to start trouble with black inmates, so I could play handball for hours without having my manhood tested at every juncture. However, the game I grew to love most was chess! I would play chess for hours. Initially, I was drawn to the machinations of the game. Later, I learned from one of my mentors that chess is a metaphor for life. Just as in life, there are actions and reactions, cause and effect, choices and consequences in every game. More importantly, just as in life, there is no one to blame for your mistakes. You must learn from them, adapt, and overcome. I began to take the game so seriously that when I would encounter problems in my life, I would run the scenarios through my head as if I was playing a game of chess to arrive at a solution. Chess helped to keep my mind sharp. I kept my body sharp by abusing the pull-up and dip bars, and countless push-ups nearly every day. I also elevated my knowledge in the martial arts. One of my mentors held a fifth-degree black belt in at least five different disciplines. He selflessly shared his knowledge with me, and taught me that being a true warrior was 10% physical, and 90% mental and spiritual. In prison, you either get big or you get smart. I was determined to do both!
By Shaun Sinclair
Read Part I of this article series http://nyahmag.com/?p=2496
Shaun Sinclair is the author of “Forbidden”. A native of Atlantic Beach, South Carolina, the Army veteran has also worked as a Law Clerk for six years. He is called the Underground Sensation due to the sizeable following he had amassed without a book publishing contract. Now he is ready to make his impact on the literary world and show why he is the “next big thing.” Book coming 2013.
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