A Letter to the Incarcerated

Advice From Beyond From My Father

In 2018, I had a dream. Several months after my father passed away, he appeared to me in a dream. He spoke to me for several minutes, and as soon as the dream ended, I woke up, and as fast as I could, wrote down what he’d told me as best as I could recall it. The things he told me could apply to almost any inmate in prison in this country. This was what he said.

“Look at yourself, Son. Ask yourself – What’s this life all about? Look around you. What motivates you? What’s important to you? Look how small-minded and petty it all is.

Will you ever break free?
Not just from the outer, physical, prison. But from the prison inside you? The prison of sickness and disease?

And if it IS a sickness, who or what can cure you?
If you were released tomorrow, what would happen to you?

Freed from your physical prison, you’d carry around your spiritual prison like a ball and chain. Listen to me. For once in your life, listen to me.
Now is the time. If not now, when?
You have the strength and power within.

You need only make up your mind.
Is this what you want? Is this how it all ends?
You need to dig deep. Reach down. And rise above all of this. There’s nothing more to it.
You must prepare yourself for freedom. Otherwise, it will kill you.

Finding Peace and Freedom From Incarceration

Do you want a life beyond this place? Do you wish to move beyond this petty existence and into the real world? Or are you comfortable where you are? I hope you want something more out of life. I hope you aspire to more than this. You must free yourself, so what when you’re released, you will be truly free.

The world beyond is going through birth pangs of its own. You must be ready, Son. Or you will not survive.”

I’ve carried these words around with me, on a piece of paper that’s now so worn it’s literally falling to pieces. I wanted to share them with inmates out there, as words to consider. Or even words to live by, particularly for those nearing release.
It is my hope that someone, somewhere, will read these words, take them to heart, and above all, put them into practice.
Because for many inmates, the “freedom” awaiting them on the other side of the fence, is not true freedom.

The years they’ve spent inside have often been wasted playing cards, reading trashy novels, or watching endless hours of television. Instead of getting better, they while away the the years growing bitter. Blaming their troubles on everyone from their parents to their eighth grade math teachers, they often refuse to turn inside to the real origin of their problems.

If you’re one of those people, and you’re reading this now, it’s not too late. It’s never too late.
If you are tired of what you see when you look around you, tired of the pettiness of life inside prison, then maybe it’s time to turn inward. To dig deep, and begin to rise above. It all starts with you. Right now.

If not now, when?

Spencer Lane Adams


Peace On Earth

Imagine today is your last day on Earth.

You have twenty-four hours to live.

Twenty-four hours in which to prepare for your final journey. That journey from which no traveler ever returns. What will you do? How will you spend that final day?


If you”re like most people, your primary concern will be to die in peace. At peace with yourself, and at peace with your
Creator. To accomplish this task, maybe you’ll want to make some small gesture, bestow some gift, or perform some random act of grace or mercy in order to leave the world a better place than when you found it.


I once had a friend who declared that if allowed, he could at last bring about peace in the middle-east. Then I reminded him of his decades-long estrangement from his brother over a real-estate deal gone south. The amount of money in dispute over the deal was less than a thousand dollars.


Maybe twenty-four hours isn’t enough time to bring about world peace, or to otherwise change the world. But it’s plenty of time to change your world. Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Someone you need to forgive? A debt owed, but never paid, perhaps? Maybe you’re estranged from an old friend or family member and can’t even remember why.

What do you want to change today? Start with forgiveness in your world first...

The Bible says don’t let the sun go down on your anger.

So if there’s someone you need to reconcile with, someone you need to forgive, or obtain forgiveness from, then go and do it. Today. Do not wait a moment longer.


For to heal a broken relationship is to heal your very soul.

To bind up old wounds that even years later still divide, to reestablish a broken relationship that was once tender and loving, is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves. One of the greatest words in the English language (or any other language, for that matter) is forgiveness.


To give for.

But to give for what? That’s the question.


I’d venture a guess – to give for peace. Peace of mind. And peace of heart. For no one who harbors ill will in their hearts can be at peace.


It is true forgiveness requires great love, courage, and humility. Then there’s no guarantee the person you seek to reconcile with will either grant you forgiveness or accept your forgiveness. But surely the payoff in peace you’ll receive in return will make it worth the effort. And while most of us assume we have plenty of time left in our lives in which to accomplish such tasks, tomorrow is never guaranteed.


Let us not, therefore, continue to put off until tomorrow, a small act of grace that would make the world – your world – a better place today.


For those of us aspiring to change the world, there’s no better place to start than our own little corner of it.



Spencer Lane Adams


Letting Go of the Past

As we walk along the path of life, steadfast in courage, strong in will, each and every mile we travel takes us further away from the pain of our past. But make no mistake. To get past the mountain of adversity, you must climb it—one foot in front of the other, and if necessary, one day before the next.

Yet every moment we linger, looking back in sorrow for what might have been or what could have been, is one more precious moment lost to the darkness. For just as time marches ever forward, so too must we live our lives—heart, mind, and soul—focused always on the future, on that glorious destination awaiting us all, if we do not falter and we do not fail. And by glorious I speak not of world-conquering generals, Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, or preening rockstars basking in an illusory light of fame. Rather, I speak of the glory of the everyday man or woman, the commoners who, coming to the end of their journey, are able to die well, because they have lived well.

And though your eyes be ever on the destination, do not blind yourself to this day’s journey. Because it is our journey after all, which makes the destination so sweet. Each and every day of our journey, if we but open our eyes, we shall find a lesson. A lesson to treasure and to hold deep within our hearts, to help us along the way.

Some of these lessons may be pleasant. But more often than not, the best ones will be painful. Do not turn away. Know that with the pain will come sorrow. Touch it, feel it, embrace it if you must. But above all, learn from it. Then move on, just as life moves on.

Letting Go of the Past - Spencer Lane Adams - learning to let go and move on to a brighter and better future.

And should a day come when you find yourself trapped in the pain, unable to learn the lessons that it’s trying to teach you, know this: That it is you and only you, who clings to it. Like an old friend you cannot bear to part with, you carry it upon your shoulders from one day to the next, weary and worn from the effort.

Leave it!

Lay it down!

Let go of it!

For if today you let go of the past—really let it go—then tomorrow you shall find that your pain is diminished. Then a week, or month, or year from now you will be that much further from it. But if and only if, you lay it down today.

And if you stay strong, if you persist and persevere, then one day you shall look back and thank God almighty for giving you the gift of your struggle. Because it is only when we struggle the most that we grow strongest. To our surprise, we shall find that in our weakness, we were made stronger. And in our foolishness, we were made wiser. For it is only when we ourselves have experienced weakness and foolishness—those all-too-human failings that we all partake of—that we are able to learn compassion and forgiveness for the weakness and foolishness in others.

For without forgiveness, there can be no love. And without love, there can be no forgiveness. Therefore, let the past be past, and remember this: It is love that endures. Even if man does not, our love endures. For though our lives are but a twinkling in the vastness of eternity, our love goes on forever.


Spencer Lane Adams


A State of Mind

Whenever we get offended by a character flaw in another person, it usually means we ourselves have a similar problem. And if we can so easily excuse ourselves, why not then excuse another?

Getting angry at humans for being human is akin to getting angry at a river for flowing downhill. It is in the nature of humans to have flaws.

Choosing your mindset - state of mind - making the choice to be happy.

To get upset or resent such things is a waste of precious time.


And we have so little of that already. Would a little character flaw in another person distress you so much if you had a terminal disease?


Whether you realize it or not, we’re all suffering from the terminal disease of life.


No matter how young or old we are, we are all already in the process of dying.


So why distress yourself over that which you cannot control or be held responsible for?


Remember always, if a person or thing is distressing you, it is not the person, it is not the thing, that is distressing you. Can a person climb inside your head and make you feel bad or upset?


Rather, it is your judgement about the person or thing that is distressing you.


And right this minute, if you so choose, you can decide that whoever or whatever is bothering you isn’t so bad after all.


My father used to yell at me to turn down my loud rock music. “You’re killing me with that horrible crap!” he would claim.


But if loud rock music really was “horrible crap”, no one would ever purchase the music, or go to rock concerts. It was my father’s judgement about the music that was distressing him.


Let us never stop reminding ourselves – it’s up to me in this very moment whether or not I am happy, sad, or disturbed.


What I choose to focus on, and how I judge it, determines my state of mind.


Decision Point

There comes a point in every person’s life where the road you’ve been traveling comes to an end.


Or maybe the road continues on, but you realize the time has come for you to take a different road. A higher, better road. Where a new and brighter destination awaits.


Deciding on what path to choose in life - overcoming problems, addictions, changing your life - decision point.

Perhaps the path you have chosen has taken you as far as possible, or even led you backwards.


Maybe you’ve fallen into a ditch and can’t for the life of you climb out. Moving forward has become impossible.


The good news my friend, is you are not stuck.


To find release, you need only listen to your inner self. It whispers to you in the wind and in dreams, telling you: The chains that bind you are as dust compared to the power of your spirit!


One decision, backed by will and intention, is all that is required. You need only decide, and it shall be done.


Do not think that there is more to it than this. For in thinking it is so, you will make it so, and thus defeat yourself.


Search not for secret formulas or magic spells. Do not put your faith in esoteric or “occult mysteries”, step methods, or pop psychology.
If the milk is sour, throw it away. If the meat is rancid, toss it out.


You wish to change? Then decide to change. That is all.


And if it should come to pass that months later, you still have not changed, search no further for an explanation than this: You simply never truly decided to change in the first place.


“Oh, but I did! I did!” you say. Yet a moment’s honest reflection is all that is necessary to see that your so-called “decision” was half hearted at best.


Understand this – if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice: a choice to remain trapped in bondage, a voluntary servitude, so to speak.


And there, you shall remain, until such a time that you actually do decide. And remember this – that each and every day you put off that decision, you choose to remain in that rut, you choose (by default) death over life, darkness over light, and evil over good.


Because that which robs you of your free will is death. That which drags your spirit downward is darkness. And that which strips you of your dignity is darkness. This then, is what you choose every day.


All this and more is yours, and shall remain yours forever, for want of a simple decision.


What Path Are You On?

So where are you on your path?

Choosing Sobriety and a New Path in Life

Are you choosing to focus on what is positive and most productive in your life?


On creating, building, and contributing to society and those around you?


On love, friendship, and harmony with the people around you?


May we daily utilize our God-given intelligence to make the right choices. May we see each and every day as an opportunity. An opportunity to redeem ourselves from past mistakes.


And if, in the past, we have harmed ourselves through poor choices, or the darkness of addiction, may we now see clearly the hurt we have caused ourselves and society, and therefore choose the higher path of sobriety and integrity.


Let us, from this day forth, put the past behind us, and choose light over darkness, truth over lies, and life over death.


Living Well

Marcus Aurelius once said,

“Wherever it is possible to live, it is possible to live well”.

Meaning that no matter how adverse the environment surround us, it is still possible for us to live with respect and dignity for ourselves and those around us.

For those of us who are incarcerated, it is tempting to want to give in to despair, to cease striving to better yourself, to think it’s no use even trying. For many, after a few years in prison, a feeling of extreme powerlessness often sets in. It just goes with the territory.

But we need not (and should not) use our circumstances as an excuse to mistreat others, or withhold our compassion, or give up on self-improvement. In fact, adverse circumstances should make us even more aware of the need for self-improvement, the need to love our fellow man.

Living well despite circumstances - Spencer Adams

For though we may be unable to change the world in our present state of confinement, we at least can strive to improve out own little corner of that world, to spur ourselves on continually onward and upward in our never ending quest to do better and be better.

Even if the rewards are are few.

In prison, where the brevity of life (if we but open our eyes) is so apparent, we are daily reminded of the transience of all things; of the supreme value of small moments, the priceless nature of kindness for kindness sake. When we fully realize how short is our span of time on this earth, we can begin to understand how absurd is the grasping after luxury, after fine clothes, and bling. There’s nothing like a decade behind bars to awaken a man to the joys of simplicity, the rewards of living with less, of living in harmony with nature.

A good book. A sunset. A few good friends. A freshly grown tomato. A full moon. A small bonfire. Good conversation.

And most important, someone to share it all with. So whether you live in a prison, a ten-million-dollar mansion, or a small, one-room cabin back in the woods, it’s possible to live well.