That’s how we started a conversation with 45 men who are serving time in a government institution of minimum security, where they are not only being rehabilitated of their addictions, but have been given a new opportunity at life.
During the activity where the diversity of ages –fluctuated from 18 to 45 years- was vastly marked, it was very interesting to note the wide range of expressions they showed as they arrived to the room.
The importance of being there was not to give another “talk”, but what we wanted was to leave a seed in the fertile soil of these men, who we were sure of having a harvest of greater possibilities.
The silence –which is not part of their subculture- was absent in the room, the sighs were the order of the day; the atmosphere felt intense and we you felt that the general consensus that you could breath was, that we were like many others in the past, who only came to tell them what to do.
Others had their gaze set towards the window on the side of the room, others holding their heads on the table, it was obvious they were forced to be there and surprisingly a minority had on hand a note pad and pencil ready to take notes.
Immediately the question raised all those holding their heads, the ones looking at the horizon and those in the front road raised their hands, akin to we had planned it.
Within the conversation –that lasted an hour and a half- we were able to established a dynamic where no trials existed, as agreed, listening to the speaker was mandatory and each of the individuals present was open to share their experiences freely.
In turn, the younger –thus simple in their vocabulary- indicated that they now understood the importance of the famous saying “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are” and even of greater importance, it will determine foremost their survival when they get out.
Taking his turn to speak was the one that had a teardrop tattooed near his left eye, he mentioned that due to the bad decisions he had taken before he was there, but now one thing which he was learning was that once outside, he would be more conscious of the daily decisions he will be taking, since those will lead him to a new life or return him to the familiar one.
Others shared their solitude within, given that the confidence their family had placed in them in the past had disappeared due to their bad decisions.
The stories of how they ended there and why they used drugs in general were very touching, ranging from child abuse, neglection, until it just ended in a mechanism of poverty survival.
What everyone, including myself, learned from the group discussions was that thanks to the decisions we made in the past, we were where we were at that moment and now everyone was clear that the decisions of the past do not matter, that that moment was a fresh start, a new day to start again and choose again.
Today we leave you the same challenge that we left to our new extended family, the focus is not important, which will be the only decision that you would make differently? but, is to have present that our daily decisions can place us in a better position from the one we hold today.
We conclude with this phrase “Focus on our path, because at the end of the day, is the only thing that should matter.”