From Endless Wanting to Embracing the Now: My Transformation After Prison

Years ago, I was walking in one of my favorite places, Tod’s Point, in Old Greenwich, CT.

It was a stunning day, and everything just felt “right.”

I was filled with joy and in a state of pure, unadulterated bliss.

I started to think about what I could do to make it even better and what I could bring with me next time to amplify this state even more.

“Next time, I’ll…”

“Then I can add…”

A flock of birds took off from a tree at that moment, snapping me back to the present.

In trying to amplify my state in some unknown future, I ignored my present state.

Pre-prison, my life was a quest for more.

I was the epitome of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry was upgraded to first class, and the flight attendant asked if he’d like more of anything, and he replied,

“More everything!”

I’d appreciate whatever I was doing at the moment, followed by identifying what’s missing, what could be better, if only I…

My existence was the constant chase of the elusive more.

Often, I didn’t know what the “more” was, only that I wanted it — and quite frankly, sometimes it felt like I needed it.

I had to fill the void, and more was the answer.

Looking at it now, I realize it wasn’t more stuff I was chasing; I was chasing more of the feeling I was experiencing.

If I was having fun, I wanted more fun.

If I was doing something that made me feel important, I wanted to be more important.

If I was escaping, I wanted to escape even further, usually deeper into a bottle of whatever I was consuming.

Instead of experiencing, I mean fully experiencing my emotions, I was projecting myself into a future where it could be even better.

The present became insufficient in seeking sufficiency.

I diminished the moment’s beauty; this thing I was enjoying suddenly became insufficient because it could be better.

There could be more, and I’m missing out on it.

I was floating on the surface of life and seeking the elusive “more” on the surface, unwilling to dive into the present because it could be better in the future.

I’d chase more, usually obtain it, and lo and behold, there was still more to be had.

Looking at it now, I was running on a treadmill, desperately trying to catch the carrot dangling before me.

Post-prison, the siren’s song of more still occasionally calls to me, but it calls less and less.

How often do we sacrifice the beauty of the present for the potential of more beauty in the future?

How often are we truly “here”?

When I think about why I hear the Sirens song less and less, one word comes straight to mind:


The beauty of the present moment wasn’t enough because I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, and the chase for more was my attempt to leave that skin behind.

I used to say I lost everything when I went to prison, and in a way, that’s true.

I lost my career, money, homes, cars, all my stuff, and my marriage.

At the time, that was everything because that’s how I defined myself. My identity was inextricably interwoven with everything outside myself.

Without all my things, I was nothing. It was a slow, drawn-out death of my past life and identity, awash with shame because I was the one who did this.

Time and distance can do great things, but the saying “time heals all wounds” is an empty platitude.

I could have spent that time whining and bitching about everything I lost, sucking myself deeper into the abyss of shame, bitterness, and regret.

I feared throwing away a second chance at life; I feared turning into a bitter and regret-filled old man.

I was drawn, with the force of Jupiter’s gravity, to give meaning to my circumstance, to transform my constant chase of trying to fill the void through the terrible choices I made, to planning how I’d kill myself into something of meaning that could somehow give back to the world.

It’s through this lens I see I didn’t lose everything.

I was given a gift.

With the superfluous stripped away, I was given the opportunity to discover who I am without all that I believed made me me.

Without all the noise, without all the stuff, without the treadmill and its ever-increasing speed, I went toward what I’d spent a lifetime running from:

Myself, complete with all my fears, my unworthiness, and never feeling enough.

Unworthiness and never feeling like enough are two sides of the coin.

My self-worth was determined by my material worth.

How could I possibly be enough if I didn’t have enough material wealth?

The journey within has shown me that enough will never be enough until I know, deeply and implicitly, that I’m enough.