“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” – Michel Foucault
Foucault claims “that it is not necessary to know exactly what I am”, and I have mixed feelings about this. I agree that we should not dwell on the past. On the other hand, I insist that we should be conscious of the past that has formed us into who we are today so that we can make informed decisions on how we can change in the future.
When I was twenty-seven, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I continually searched the past for answers. I was delusional, I always thought people were out to get me and at the time I refused to take my medicine. A few years later I went to prison because I committed four felonies. I spent four years in prison. I began taking my medicine in prison. I found religion while locked up. I began to slowly change for the better. I will never forget my time behind bars, I learned so much while I was in there, like discipline, understanding, and patience. These three things stood out by looking back into my past. I became more prepared to deal with life than ever before, by learning from my past mistakes.
I didn’t have any self-control before going into prison. It took learning from my own bitter experience and the act of discipline to change. Discipline takes time to learn; it comes from practice. You need to give up something to acquire something better and create order out of the chaos. Discipline usually takes learning a hard lesson to be permanently effective in your life. Without being conscious of your past there is no way of knowing that there is a change in your discipline. I learned discipline by being in an environment that forced me to create a daily practice of tasks, causing myself to become a creature of good habits, like waking up every morning and making my bed, cleaning my cell, organizing my locker, then heading off to work in the flower beds. Without discipline I would not have done any of these things.
Understanding others comes from learning to put yourself in other people’s minds. Think what may cause them to act the way they do. Understand that you can’t change others, only yourself. Learning to deal with other people in a way that is not disrespectful but is truthful and full of heart.
Patience is a side effect of discipline and understanding. It takes discipline and understanding and sometimes forgiveness to acquire patience. For example, when a person goes through a period of discipline the person becomes a better person, and when understanding of other’s intentions and thoughts is accomplished, the person can gain more patience towards others and can communicate and deal with the other people more leniently.
All these attributes I learned in prison, where discipline, understanding, and patience are not always acquired by the inmates. Although those that want to change and make a conscious effort can change their lives for the better, creating peace in one’s life.
I find that Life is formed by our past experiences. It is important to know what we are, to know where we came from, and where we are going to effectively make a change in one’s life. Making that change starts with you! Only you can stop yourself in your ways and turn them around for the better. If everyone were to use this information, maybe we would live in a better more peaceful world.