Several years ago I had a rare opportunity to teach incarcerated teens at Rikers Island Jail. Established as a self-empowerment program called “The Rules to the Game of Life”, the course was designed to encourage students to rise above limitations by shifting their victim consciousness to one of taking responsibility for their lives. We encouraged them to become the best version of themselves possible through activities designed to illuminate their gifts, talents and desires.
In Lesson one I would give each student a giant piece of white paper and a set of color markers. With ten minutes on the clock, I asked them to imagine that the paper was a blank check from the universe and whatever they wrote or drew on the page would be granted to them in time. I always did the activity with them and when it was over I shared what was on my page; Excellent Health, A Joyous Family, A Home in Buenos Aires, World Peace and an Oscar with a check attached to it that read “Pay to the Order of; Daniel Tuttle, Groundbreaking Filmmaker”.
As I shared the latter I heard some chuckling coming from the back of the room. I noticed it was a student who barely paid attention in class and whose biggest involvement was an occasional grunt from under the desk, where he usually slept throughout the class.
I asked him if he cared to comment and share what he found so humorous. He raised his head up, looked me dead in the eyes and said:
"YOU in JAIL! How you gonna make them bennies and get yo Oscar comin’ here teachin’ a bunch a crackheads in JAIL??? HUH?”
The class laughed as He went on,
“You just like the rest of ‘em, talking smack you ain’t doin’ shit about!”
I was speechless. He was absolutely right. I wasn’t doing anything about being a “Groundbreaking Filmmaker” – except talk about it and dream about it.
After our graduation ceremony later that year, I pulled him aside. I thanked him for being MY teacher and then I made a commitment to him.
Bait (or Trapped by the Truth) is my commitment to him and to anyone who is stuck in the prison of illusion and false hope. Perpetuating the voice in our head that employs us to do nothing but sit idly by thinking things will “get better one day” is the ultimate purgatory.
Dreams are made through action. Free yourself!