The Miracle of Giving Thanks – David S’s Story

My name is David. I grew up in relative comfort, and have very many happy memories of my youth. I have been computer literate from a young age, although my parents left it to the schools to teach me reading.

Throughout elementary school I was often regarded as intelligent. I rarely paid attention outside of my own world of games and media, and so I eventually became anxious and lonely. In high school this anxiety worsened, feeding into what became something of an eating disorder. I simply ate rarely, usually because I deplored to cook for myself or seek out food elsewhere. I typically holed myself up in my room, consuming snacks and other low-effort foods.

Eventually I formed some habits, and broke a few others. My hygiene degraded and I started spending what little money I had on alcohol and various drugs. Two years after graduating from high school, I ended up having to spend three months in prison. This experience was one of the most impactful times in my life, and still affects me to this day.

I am not a large man, and years of eating very little had made me quite weak. I was met in that place by an enormous amount of hostility, and yet I was lucky enough to avoid violent confrontation for the duration, despite the best efforts of some of the other inmates.

In fact, after having my clothes stolen, having toothpaste smeared into my hair, having sharpened pencils jabbed into my arms, and going to sleep with various bruises, the bystanders eventually became tired of it and stepped in. I maintained a friendly and open demeanor towards even the worst of those there, and I think they may have appreciated that to some degree.

Eventually I found myself hearing some very interesting stories over games of euchre or lukewarm meals in a concrete cell. Prison tattoo inks are typically made of pencil graphite and hand soap, and one of the young men who had bullied me eventually spoke at length of his desire to be an actual tattoo artist.

One man in his late fifties had never learned to read because of his father beating him when he couldn’t remember the alphabet. That particular range was heavily influenced by some very large christian men imprisoned there, who did bible studies and held de facto baptism ceremonies with elaborately hand drawn certificates. I watched this man learn to read using the bible after being baptized in a prison shower with a bucket of water.

At any rate, the tenacity and history of some of these men, and the tragedy of others still, became an impactful backdrop to three months of monotony. I hand-wrote and submitted work for an online course to improve my grades from high school and attend post-secondary after I was released. I attended a year of general courses at a College in my area, eventually losing interest but not before studying a few pieces of important literature and historical events. Two years after dropping out, I had saved enough money to attend three months of language classes in Tokyo, Japan. I went by myself with my own money and had a wonderful time, making many friends and honing my now conversational fluency in Japanese. After returning, I began seeking work in translation and writing, eventually landing some contracts and even having some of my writing published. It’s not really much, but I can deeply appreciate the place in the world it gives me. miracle of giving thanks.

Featured Photo Credit: Prison by Kim Daram on Flickr

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