Over the last few days I have found it difficult to read or to sleep. I alluded earlier to my own fears, but in the name of intellectual precision I might better characterize them as the fear of the uncertainties that lie ahead. I lack purpose.

I have spent my life being overprepared for the task ahead, and right now I’m at a loss to know what to do. My release is supposedly less than a month away, and I’m not sure who’s going to step out of that door. I’ve made several attempts at clarity, goal setting, and the like, but nothing concrete seems to come. The notion of taking life as it comes simply adds to my fear.

I have trained myself to set goals and take action to get there. I have trained myself to learn from mistakes and simply turn the page and get on with life. But frankly, right now I’m lost. I have no purpose. I don’t know what to do.

It is, however, Labor Day weekend, and I suspect the floor of the day room will become overwhelmed with the overflow of prisoners admitted to the county jail. We received our first one on Friday afternoon which means the Latino Victors (two guys, same name) in cell 8 will return to the day room floor. The toilet in that cell will be used for the eight to 10 people we get to meet over the weekend.

According to Niko, who is looking out the “window” the Taliban has arrived. This I had to see and sure enough, a guy of what can only be described from this vantage point as Middle Eastern with a very full beard is making his bed. The other alternative, though, may just be that he’s homeless. We’ll see, discreetly.

Yep, on closer inspection, it’s definitely the Taliban.

I guess that makes our little group complete. Everyone is represented right down to the non-gay transgender queens, one black, Beef, and one white, Christina. Beef should change her name.

I should pay attention to the matter at hand: clarifying my goals and devising plans to get there. I’m sure my delay has something to do with a touch of depression. I’m sure it also has to do with the magnitude of the opportunity too. Part of me wants to walk away from it all and go live the life I intended to live, the one of a quiet existence with my high school sweetheart. The problem is that she’s married and a nurse down at Duke – at least I think so. I’m not even sure though that she knows I considered her my high school sweetheart.

Maybe I should return to my hometown. That has always been the plan. Yet the plan was to transfer businesses there so as to create jobs for my neighbors. Those businesses aren’t really there anymore either. So I guess the task right now is to find some clarity.

I must admit, though, that I am getting a lot of help from my colleagues. At one level I want to understand the human condition and the choices and decisions that got us all here, but at another level they absolutely disgust me.

It is Labor Day weekend in America. It’s the first football Saturday in the college season, and I’m locked in a room, four feet from a remote control while being subjected to Sarah Jessica Parker – who I like, by the way – in “Failure to Launch.”

Are these people – the inmates – so out of it that they have never participated in Americana? Earlier I alluded to the fact that I believed the failure of any outside interests, particularly sports, could explain why most of us were here, but this is too much.

Their families disgust me because obviously they were taught it’s more appropriate to pick up a crack pipe than a baseball glove. I am not talking about decrepit old men like me; I’m talking about young men in their early 20s shunning sports. No wonder no one exercises and America loses billions of dollars each year because its citizen’s are fat.

Don’t get me wrong – that’s a wonderful segue, by the way, even though some smartass attorney would ask why would I get you wrong – it’s not about just sports. It’s about activity and passion for something. Granted most of these guys have not been to college – though I would argue that not being involved in sports at a younger age is what caused them not to be interested in school or college and that’s why they aren’t particularly drawn to college football – but there it is, the lack of passion for anything that is the problem. Frankly locking them up with stiffer and stiffer sentences isn’t going to solve the problem. We need to reestablish passion for something in every one of these guys, and all children.

That’s the place for me to begin. As I think about getting out of here, the task isn’t to decide what I want to do, or how do I get my life back. The challenge is to remember the things I have passion for: helping people, pushing medicine forward, enjoying time with friends and encouraging their pursuits. I love helping people. I love life.

I’m not going to allow a jaded world to rob me of the passion for life. I intend to experience and love it all.


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