September 30, 2006

To see the Soul - a Search of Self by Mike

To see the Soul - a Search of Self
Michael Lambrix

A simple plastic mirror hangs upon the doorframe of my death row cell, faded with the age of years gone by. I could easily replace it with a new one, but I don't want to. That inanimate object has become my friend. I can look within its reflection and see a person I'm still coming to know. I doubt anybody else would ever understand, but I do. And that's good enough for me.

You see, years ago when I first arrived and was placed within the confines of my solitary crypt, condemned to an existence of a seemingly endless state of judicial limbo, we had no mirrors.

For reasons beyond my personal comprehension, any type of reflective object was deemed to be a threat to the security of this institution. For years I did not see myself, with the exception of a few opportunities stolen along the passage of time.

But it was just as well, as even when confronted with the reflection of my own being, I couldn't recognize the person who looked back. It was a stranger I did not know, and could not understand. And it scared me.

My true friend, the mirror, is a patient being. Willingly, it has given me the time to look deep within myself, grasping in almost maniac desperation for the person that I knew existed beyond that shell of emotional void. So many battles in the past had tempered my ability to rationalize and overcome.

I came to this crypt with a death wish, as I saw death as an escape. It would allow me to end the continuous cycle of adversity that plagued my life. As a crutch enabling me to survive, I had come to accept that I was not at fault for the way my life had painfully twisted its way through one nightmare after another.

Responsibility for my personal actions was an alien concept. I had conceded that for reasons unknown to myself, my life was cursed. I came to accept that philosophy, no longer even attempting to defend against the plague of pain that continued to fall forth.

Yet, ever so slowly over the years I've gained a new and refreshing understanding of the man in the mirror. Oh, yes - I still fought what I did not want to see. I still created my own justifications for what I chose not to accept. But in its silent wisdom, that inanimate piece of plastic ever so patiently drew me back into its reflection of self.

At times I would spend hours doing nothing but staring at this stranger I knew so well, but didn't know at all. In the stillness of night I lay awake searching the very depths of my soul for understanding.

I expected a miracle.

I anticipated the day I would awaken and hold all the answers. It never came. But ever so slowly I came to know that once stranger. I came to understand the person who had blankly stared back at me as I looked within that plastic mirror. I came to accept reality, no longer imprisoned within my imaginary world of excuses. I could at long last identify the paths I've traveled, ascertaining the many places along the path in which I've chosen to challenge the natural flow and do things my way.

I've come to accept that the deceptive vehicle of illusive charm, which I've followed and traveled upon so blindly, is in reality, the foundation of my life's disasters.

In the ignorance of my youth, I had adopted the use of intoxicants as my crutch from reality. Rather than confront the problems of life, I turned in weakness for the closest available form of deception. Alcohol. Drugs. It didn't matter. I would use either, without hesitation and somewhere along that river of intoxicated stupor I continued to flow even further apart from the person within.

But I am not an old man. I have not spent a life of absolute intoxication. I am not the proverbial "wino" our society so quickly identifies as a model of alcoholism, or the "junkie" that haunts the depths of the inner city.

I was only a young man - a working man, a husband, a father, an alcoholic and a coward who could not and would not face that truth; a teen alcoholic who had matured only physically into an adult alcoholic.

I had become a person trapped and imprisoned by the compelling need to drown all time within a bottle, or whatever else might be readily available - any escape from the harsh truth of reality.

Now I look at the person within, and find someone I can identify with. No longer am I a stranger trapped within myself. Only, the search of self came too late. In at last escaping from the imprisonment of alcoholism, I have only awoken to find myself now condemned to death as a direct result.

I cannot retrace that path of the past. I cannot re-create what has already been. Yet I feel as if a burden has been lifted. Still I can sense the inner freedom as I explore who I am; the one within.

And over these years, I've kept journals about my solitary environment. Perhaps one day I will gather these thoughts and reflections together and allow others to look within as I have done myself. For now I'm satisfied with simply confiding my thoughts upon that paper, creating my own security blanket, another trustful friend who will hold my deepest secrets and always gladly spare a listening ear.

And within those many pages I will form a trail to follow, a path in which I will be able to see the metamorphosis of self as it slowly evolves, as I come to know even more of "me." And as I see more of the true self emerge from the dark recesses of the past, I am inspired and motivated to push even harder towards a future.

I am compelled to tell others of the experience, as I realize that I had been cheated out of my own life by a bottle, but even more so by the deceptive justifications I had so readily created to rationalize why I had fallen into the well of alcoholism.

In coming to know myself, I have realized what had first instilled within me the weakness that led to my addiction, and by identifying that weakness, I have found the strength to overcome the circumstances now present in my life.

For the first time, even though imprisoned and condemned to death, I am in control of my life. I know what I want to achieve and can make plans to do so. I can look beyond the moment of today and into the eternity of tomorrow. For me that in itself is a victory.

Nothing I say or do can change the past. But I now know that I can use yesterday's battles as a source of strength in building a future, because I am willing to accept my addiction to alcohol, and how it can so easily become my master, enslaving me to an existence of irresponsibility and failures.

For this realization, I owe a great debt to that mirror that still hangs silently as if in its wisdom, it knew all along that time itself would slowly bring about the unity of my body and soul.
The piece of plastic could only reflect back what could be seen. It could only show me the physical being, but it was the stranger I saw that forced me to look deeper.

Time, itself, brought about the gradual evolution of the stranger and the soul, each discovering the other along the path of a desperate search. I can now only wonder what would have become had I continued to live as I once did. Could any alternative path be worse than my present state of condemnation?

Yes, I believe it could, as I can deal with what I face today. I may not still understand how it all came to be, but I continue to pray an opportunity will eventually present itself, allowing me to exhibit all the facts, all of what I now am willing to accept and confront.

I have no doubt that if such an opportunity was to present itself, even this condemnation would be lifted. For now, though, I accept it. And I equally accept the truth that my prison of today is not at all as restricting or enslaving as the prison of alcoholism I had been previously confined to.

In this small, solitary cage I am free not only to discover self but to explore who I am, and to allow myself hopes and dreams of what tomorrow might bring.

The prison of alcoholism had never allowed that. It not only mastered my body, it entrapped my soul. In my present condemnation I have found the true essence of life and in my solitary confinement I have found freedom.

All found in the reflection of a plastic mirror.