Writing to Right

an unconventional autoethnography

Why I write

I was inside of a maximum security federal prison in Mexico when I learned the following:

We are a sum of our many decisions.

This stood out to me because it was spoken by one of the prisoners. It was inside this prison where I was confronted with my prejudices, biases, and fears and shown a door that many do not want to see – because it is uncomfortable to see it – and seeing it means we have to acknowledge the grey areas in life and in what it means to be human.

Many of the inmates standing before us committed terrible crimes. Some were murderers, scam artists, gangsters, and some were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the people standing before us were rehabilitated or rehabilitating. And they would spend their lives within those towering, cold concrete walls, lining up several times a day to eat, shower, and sleep. They would hear the clang of metal bars slamming hourly, signifying the loss of freedom after freedom.

Yet they were standing before us expressing remorse for their decisions, telling their stories, sharing the events leading to their incarceration, what they have learned while rehabilitating, and conveying deep sorrow for their mistakes.  They shared this with loved ones and with strangers. Their stories were heard.

This experience not only moved me but shook something deep inside of me that would never be still again. Every decision is a chance for something good and something evil. Every person has stories about decisions – some witnessed,  some made, and some made for them. With the exception of a small percentage who are truly absent of conscience, we are connected by our humanity. Even the ones deemed “harmful” to society.

This blog is for lovers of stories. Stories help us heal and grow. I write the ones that have meant something to me.

This doesn’t say much about me, the writer. I suppose I want to keep it this way for now. But to give the curious something, here are a few things that feed me: laughter, cozy cafes, black coffee, languages, dark chocolate, lying on the sand, writing on rainy days, more coffee, fiction, hugs, autobiographies, love, dance, poems, dahlias, music, growing, stretching, communing, connecting, learning, always learning…

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