"And look at me, Little Igor, the bruises go away, and so does how you hate, and so does the feeling that everything you receive in life is something you have earned.“ - From the novel Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Another year has come and gone. It was my third New Years locked up and hopefully my last. It is crazy to think that it has been that long. It feels like just yesterday I was out there doing my thing, it is hard to really comprehend the fact that it has been years I wonder how much I have changed, probably a whole lot. I was talking to one of my friends on Christmas that I hadn’t spoken to in a while, it was wild, but kind of strange too. She was like, "you are the same person, but I can tell you have changed too.” I asked her what she meant, how have I changed. But she couldn’t really say. All she said was, “I don’t know to explain it, but I can tell you changed.” It got me thinking, lying on my bunk wondering just how true that really is.
They say that the only true constant is change. Over time everything and everyone will change. It is inevitable. Like the leaves on the tree, the seasons of life carry us away like the winds of Autumn. We change colors, fall off the tree and fly in the breeze, only to do it al over again the following year. But during which time of the year does the tree have more meaning? In the spring when life is new and fresh and full of possibilities? Or in summer when it bares fruit that sustains and nourishes? Or maybe the fall when the colors show reds oranges and yellows, when it reminds us that even at the end of things there can be beauty? If not those, then it must be winter, when the branches are bare, reminding us that even mother nature has its us and downs. Reminds us that life is not meant to be lived in a straight line. In order to truly appreciate the summer you must also know the winter. In order to truly love a person, you gotta love them through all their seasons.
On that phone call when my friend told me I changed I was kind of caught off guard. I didn’t really know what to say. Then when she couldn’t explain what she meant I was even more confused. I mean, this was one of my oldest and dearest friends I was talking to. I’ve known her my entire adult life and I really value her friendship, so I was kind of hesitant. She must have felt it cause quickly she said, “I don’t care.” To which I responded, you don’t care about what? To which she laughed and said, “I don’t care that you changed, we have been friends for over ten years, I don’t care if you change, I love you and I got your back no matter what.” And I too have her back , no matter what, But still, the exchange got my wheels turning.
How often is life do people say to others that they’ve changed. when we break up with a lover or when a business partnership just doesn’t seem to work. When a friendship from our youth just isn’t the same or when we hear an artist’s new record. So many times in so many situations we retreat from our former loves, passions and beliefs with an accusation of change. It is the easy out clause, it is the golden parachute. Change. It is you that have changed, it is they, it is them. The reason things are different are yours. You are to be blamed, you are the one at fault. How easily we can dismiss. How quickly we relieve ourselves of responsibility. When we tell someone that we don’t love them anymore because they’ve changed, aren’t we really saying that we are the ones who have changed? Aren’t we the ones saying we want something different? And who is to say that it is change at all and not growth?
Without the advantage of retrospection can we even define the difference between to two? Have I changed while I’ve been in prison or have I grown? Maybe it is both, or who knows, some may even argue neither. I personally am not even sure how to conquer that question. All I do know is that when my friend told me that she didn’t care if I changed, that she still loved me and couldn’t wait for me to come home it felt really nice. Because no matter what changes there have been, the one thing that did not change was the fact that she loves me for me, and on even the hardest of days, that is more than enough. For there is something truly sacred about supporting someone at their worst, a bond that cannot be defined or pinpointed.
When in the deepest recesses of your heart you feel unlovable, ashamed of your circumstances and yourself. Hanging on with nothing but false bravado and a crooked grin. When you’re lying in bed with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company. We’ve all been through it one way or another. We’ve all had those long days and even longer nights.
One of the things about my time in prison that surprised me is the friendships I have built. I can easily say that some of the best friends I’ve had throughout my entire life I’ve made here. Someday when I am old I will look back an honestly be able to say that some of the best men I have ever known were convicted murderers, drug dealers, car jackers, and junkies. Gang bangers, thieves and cutthroats. People that I met when I was at the most difficult and troubled crossroads of my life. But people who were also at their most difficult and troubled crossroads as well. There is something to be said about bonds built while dealing with adversity.
I say this because when I came to prison years ago all of my closest friends were out there on the streets. I remember that first New Years in here thinking about my friends out there celebrating . But now two years later things are so much different. This year when I thought about my friends and mentally wished them a Happy New Year, I realized that not all, but most of my closest friends live with me behind these walls. People I’ve spent the hardest time of my life with. People that don’t write me off for the mistakes that I have made. People that got my back not matter what.
I’d be lying if I didn’t think regularly about the obstacles I’m going to face when I get out. How are people going to react when they discover I was just released from prison. When I work on music will people look at me or deal with me differently, or will the work with me at all? Will women look at me as a man they wouldn’t start a family with? What will the world be like? What will my world be like? I ask myself these questions way more often than I’ll ever admit.
So on Christmas when my old friend told me that she didn’t care if I changed, that she loved me regardless and would always have my back, it meant the world to me. It showed me that even though the world, the seasons,and our circumstances my always be in a constant state or change, one thing that never has to change is the love we have for each other, our brothers and sisters, our friends and families. With that I wanna wish everyone out there a Happy New Year. May this be your best year yet , and if not, don’t trip, cause there is always next year, and the year after that. Time stops for no one, and neither does change. Thank God for that.
Till next time, keep your back straight and your chin held high and always KEEP ON RICH ROLLIN.
Your servant, DART
SONG FOR THE NEW YEAR
Song: Trying to be cool