My Message To You by Maurece Graham
Dear Young One:
Hope has a name, and I’ve found that it’s name is ‘You’. Why do I know this? Because I’ve been in prison for almost 15 years and I had to find to hope to survive. Let me explain to you what I mean.
When I first came here [to prison] I didn’t know what hope was. I had wishes and daydreams that played the role but I didn’t really have “it”. But as hard times came – as family members died and children of my siblings grew up with broken hearts and in broken homes – I learned I needed to find out who or what hope really is. Luckily I found you. It happened while I was looking at pictures. The eyes and smiles of loved ones are so bright and warm, and doubly so for the children. Over time I found that what I see in in my loved ones, I can see in the eyes and smiles of strangers. I can see it in you. For me, strangers became not so strange anymore, and since I’ve always been an underdog, I found myself secretly hoping for the best – even for them. Hoping. Hope + ing. I’d found hope. Let me demonstrate. My hope is that a person’s eyes stay bright with love, and their smiles stay rich with joy from little tikes until gray Grandma’s. That’s so the best!
Because I love the ‘little tikes’ I can’t help but feel a little of that for the grown folk they become. I hope life doesn’t change them too much, that their smiles outweigh their frowns and their bright essence stays strong to the finish. That YOUR bright essence stays strong to the finish.
Yes, this whole conversation is about you. As a little one you once looked up and hoped that you would rise. Your eyes glimpsed the smiles of those who loved you, and beyond them, up into the treetops where the sparrows darted and rays of sunshine opened up a whole wide world to your wondrous gaze. You were dream-gazing at the future, unafraid of the daunting heights of success and always sure that way up there is where you truly belong.
Your dreams are strong. This is not a fantasy. Your dreams have lifted you up from a small seed to a fully capable human being. Up and up you’ve traveled, since the day you were born. Never smaller, always greater, that’s your nature- what you’re destined to be. You’re the ‘thing’ that world leaders are squabbling over.
Seeing you as you grow, understanding the struggle you face to make things somehow go your way, I want to give you a hand. Sitting here in prison, at the bottom of the world all I can do is look up. Just like you. And seeing things through your eyes has brought wisdom back to me. And I understand you.
Feeling young is feeling like you need a break. It’s sensing that if the right ‘thing’ happens for you, you can prove yourself to the world and be happy. The ghost of success is all up in your face taunting you to get it, and even though every time you reach your fingers come up empty your intuition keeps you at it telling you over and over “just a little more and the world is yours”.
Well Young One, your instincts are right. Success is close to you. In fact, it’s closer than close to you, it is INSIDE of you. Listen up: Success is when Lil’ Wayne talks about gang-bangin’, but he’s really in the studio practicing and perfecting his trade.
Success is the reason I’m writing to you instead of stabbing an enemy in here; Success is when you recognize what you’re good at and concentrate on developing it to its full potential. Just that line right there is worth 10 years of experience. If you were 14, you’re now 24, and if you’re 24 you’ve just hit 34!
Let’s go somewhere else for a moment. Young one, I love my mother with a love deeper than words can describe. Her ebony smile is my pride and joy. Because I love my family, I love my people and through loving my people I learned to love people period; because I love people I love you. With love I say “hold your head up high and always walk forward”. Stay focused on your success. When pain or drama distracts you, resurrect yourself, dig deep into your nature and refuse to be anything less than your best. Look at great people of integrity, at Malcolm X, and Michelle Obama, at Albert Einstein and Oprah Winfrey – and refuse to be anything less.
You are that shining knight our mothers are waiting for, that brilliant star little children need in their life. Mistakes are not a limit, they are not YOU. You’re greater than any single act that you’ve ever done. Success is inside of you no matter what obstacles you think may stand in your way.
This world places too much importance on getting lucky, especially if you have it hard. You don’t need to get lucky, you ARE “lucky”. You don’t need to look for success, success is you. That’s as real as it gets.
A gifted author named Anthony Robbins said it well; “Preparation plus opportunity equals luck”. Youth is an opportunity to use time wisely- preparation – to develop your gifts and put them out there for all of us to see and enjoy. That’s your purpose, that’s why you are the genuine hope.
All of this stuff might seem hard but it’s really quite simple. The key to making it easy is to get all the advice you can and use it. Some of us old folks haven’t been what we needed to be, but there are a lot of us out here willing to help. And we do love you. Be your best self and you WILL inspire the next generation. Just like you already inspire us.
You have a fight on your hands but you can do it, for there is no obstacle too big for hope, no surer path to success than never giving up on yourself.
My words say: ‘somebody reached into my life and fired my soul with compassion’; I say: ‘let this love pour through me and serve you in your journey to find happiness, let it be a shoulder for you to lean on as you struggle to grow into your full potential’. Young Hope, you are everything you’re looking for, now think big and apply yourself to making it happen. I believe in you, now you must believe in you!
At Your Service Now and Forever,
Maurece Graham (Your Friend)
1101 Linden Ln
Faribault, MN 55021