The letter that saved my life is what I want to tell you about today. I was sentenced to 27 years in prison as a 20-year-old kid for robbing a bank, a first-time offender who had never even had a speeding ticket.
Yet one bad decision as a young precocious teenager changed my life forever. I felt betrayed, angry, lost, mad at the world, the government, myself, life, overcome with regret and loss.
Yet at such a young age these emotions manifested themselves into anger and impulsive behavior. So it was no wonder that I soon went to a USP (United States Penitentiary). A place of hard steel and cold concrete that is founded upon hate anger and violence. I ended up getting into a lot of trouble and did years in the SHU, all together over 6 years.
I’m now less than 19 months from going home and made it to a low security prison and have a great future ahead of me. This all came to be possible from one letter that I received in the SHU from a good friend. A few simple words yet so profound changed my life forever.
The letter started off saying, “Damn my friend, every time I receive a letter from you it’s always from the SHU. Please do me a favor, finish reading this paragraph do what it says and then come back to the letter.”
So I read the paragraph, which said, “Get a pen a paper and write down the 3 most important things to you in your life, # 1 being the most important, really think about it and give an honest, truthful answer.
So I did, I held that pen in my hand and gazed at the paper wanting my thoughts and beliefs to guide my hand. The 3 most important things in life to me were #1. FREEDOM, #2. FAMILY, #3. SUCCESS.
I went back to the letter, which said, “Okay, now you have the 3 things that you say are most important to you. Now ask yourself this simple question. Have your actions over the past year reflected what you say you hold most dear to you??”
Reading those words I was overcome by emotions and enlightenment and understanding, and sence of direction.
My actions did not reflect my beliefs at all. I can say this is what is important to me, and say this is what I want to do, but it all comes down to what I actually do that counts. Your actions are a reflection of your beliefs. And I realized with a razor-sharp clarity that I had not acted with those beliefs in mind. And I promised myself from that day forward to never allow that to happen again.
My actions will reflect my beliefs, I will work towards being a free man, I will honor my family, I will be a successful member of society that lives life to the fullest. I have that simple letter to thank for all of that. Letters do save lives and can forever change the path of one’s life. — Jon G.