by Timothy, CLF member incarcerated in Florida
I entered prison in 1989 and did not care about beauty. I hadn’t for many years. I did not seek it, didn’t even pay attention to it. Beauty had never been a part of my life. At the young age of six I was placed into the care and custody of the State of Colorado. For the next 12 years I suffered severe forms of physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse by staff and by older kids.
When I turned 18 I was kicked out with no job, no money, no family, and no idea how to function on my own. Within three years I’d already been to prison twice, and was on my way back for a third time with a fresh 60-year sentence.
Beauty? All I had seen in my life was ugliness, pain and the worst in humans. So what did I know about beauty?
Halfway into my current sentence I started a spiritual journey that changed my life, my outlook, my entire being. It was during this journey that I discovered beauty. I also discovered that beauty comes in many forms.
I’ve looked at certain men and thought: “Wow, he is so beautiful.” The physical beauty of another human being is one of the most easily recognized forms of beauty.
I’ve walked to chow at night and was amazed by the beauty of the moon and stars. On the rec yard I’ve admired the beauty of a hawk flying overhead and the beauty of a mockingbird’s song.
Some people find beauty in written words or songs, while others admire the beauty of various forms of art. One guy I worked with would talk for hours about the beauty of math, how the perfection of a difficult equation was beauty in itself.
While it is difficult to do in prison, I now try to see the beauty that surrounds me. Whether it is the trees on the other side of the fence, a wild flower growing on the yard, a touching poem, or a heart-tugging song, I search for that beauty.
The most rewarding beauty that I’ve found is the beauty of a kind soul. No matter how a person looks on the outside, it is what’s inside that has affected me the most. Prison is a place filled with egotistical, selfish, manipulating, cruel people. So it is particularly special when I come across that rare animal—a beautiful inner person.
The unselfish act of helping others in need, of sticking up for the weak, of giving freely with no ulterior motives: this is the beauty that changes lives, the beauty that makes us look at our own inner self. This is the beauty that allows us to have hope for the future no matter how bleak the present is.
It is this inner beauty that has the power to change the world we live in. If we all nurtured our inner beauty, tended it until it blossomed, then that beauty would spread its seeds to others. Let your inner beauty shine; allow others to see your inner beauty by your actions. No matter how ugly the world is, our inner beauty can thrive and spread.