Soon after I arrived at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, I had a conversation with another inmate during which it came up that I was a Baylor University graduate. He told me that he had been heavily recruited by Baylor during his senior year of high school in 1969 to play football and that coach Grant Teaff had personally come to his home on a recruiting visit. My response was something to the effect that he must have been a tremendous high school athlete because coach Teaff didn't start coaching at Baylor until 1972. It was my first experience with how it's possible in prison to be downright delusional about your history.
Since then, I've had conversations with drummers better than Phil Collins and guitarists better than Jimi Hendrix and rappers better than some rapper whose name I can't remember. We have unlicensed theologians and chiropractors and a Hollywood movie producer. However one inmate, now released, shines far brighter than all others.
Let's call him Bobby because I think that's his name. If so, it may be the only thing real about him. Bobby dated Farrah Fawcett at the University of Texas, even though she had left the Austin campus by the time he arrived. He was also quite the golfer, having played regularly with Glenn Campbell and Dick Clark. His locker at Lakeside Country Club in Los Angeles was right next to Dean Martin, even though Martin was not a member there. Bobby had front row seats at an all night Bruce Springsteen concert that never happened, as it was merely a gag by a radio station. Speaking of radio, he also played golf with with radio DJ Rick Dees, or anyone else remotely famous we might mention. Golfing all over the country was never inconvenient for Bobby as he had multiple aircraft, a King Air turbo-prop for short trips and a Gulfstream G4 for longer golfing junkets.
Bobby obviously forgot that, regardless how hard we attempt to rewrite or forget our past, it always accurately remembers us. We can't rewrite it, but we can write our future by what we do right now, moment by moment. The Bible is full of stories of characters who did just that. Perhaps the most notable was Jacob, who on the eve of his coming home to face his past deception, struggled all night with an angel. Perhaps it was an internal struggle between his True Self and his False Self?
After an internal battle that night, God changed his name from Jacob, which meant "trickster" to Israel, meaning "one who struggles with God." That struggle was so intense, Jacob came away limping. Injury was not surprising, because it often hurts to be defeated by our True Self. When we take the high road, resist temptation, face our past, apologize, or be vulnerable, we often limp away to freedom.
I love how Rabbi Harold Kushner describes this struggle in his book Living A Life That Matters when he writes, "When we defeat the still small voice of God inside us, we lose. But that voice inside us will not be stilled forever...It will find a time when we are vulnerable. It will attack us at a weak moment. And when the struggle is over, we will, like Jacob/Israel, be bruised and limping. But again, like Jacob, we will be whole. We will be at peace with ourselves, in a way we never were before."