My mind is somewhat of a junkyard, full of twisted metal and lost souls, and I sweat as I run from demons that pose as guilty pleasures. My future looks close, yet far, like a regatta waiting for me at bay. Regatta, look at me talking like a sailor. A seaman is programmed to be an adventurer. Words like fearless, spontaneous and protective are usually used to describe us.
It’s not so different from another life, when as the face of a block my goal was to protect property claimed in honor of those fallen to the distinct sound of gunfire and the god-awful smell of gunpowder. Why do both lifestyles sound so familiar? Why does this feeling of adrenaline keep trying to flood me like a punctured ship? An internal fight keeps coming back into my mental like a blanket of sadness trying to smother me. Who am I?
“Come back!” I scream, only to meet deafening silence. Don’t leave me alone in this world, I beg, but the emptiness lingers.
Vivid images of losing my best friend are tattooed in my mind, each one filled with just as much pain as the last. I battle between my old state of mind and my current one more often than not. I look in the mirror and promise myself that I’ll never forget. Never forget the times standing in the hood, trying to brainstorm our next plot, or times the police sped up and we had to clear the spot.
But times changed. I’m a new man, and I have a new plan. My life seems so surreal as I stand in these swimming trunks, listening to the wind singing a peaceful melody. I watch the dolphins and fish frolicking around like kids at recess, and I notice an unfamiliar feeling overcoming my body.
I’m free, not only from my old lifestyle, and not only from the walls I often cried to and which held my darkest secrets, but I am free from my old self. I enjoy the ultimate form of freedom, the open sea — the biggest beast known to man. It’s an unstoppable force that never loses and that has a body count higher than any nation.
The ocean can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, but the fact still stands, you have to get from point A to point B. Your headings may change and the wind may switch directions, but your thoughts never stop flowing and the stars will always talk to you. I try to keep my fire lit like that of a star, persevering to heal the ugly scars of my past and to become the man who takes advantage of a second chance.
I was only 16 years old when I was forced to face the possibility of 130 years in prison. Reflecting on my life and the events leading up to my incarceration, I never blame others. I take responsibility for my role in what happened, but most of all, I take responsibility for the lifestyle I led. Walking into a gang as a teenager, I signed up for a life that I thought would help me protect my brother and myself. I just wanted to be anything but a victim, but as a teenager I didn’t know how to communicate that.
It was ironic, then, that jail is where I learned how to open up. In particular, my time inside helped me to find a key instrument that would save my life: writing. InsideOUT Writers came in through the cells I was trapped in on a mission of change. In the two years I was a part of the program inside, I learned about myself in ways I never thought I could.
I learned that I am in control, no matter how little physical control I actually have over the course of things. This has played a key part in the man I am today. The openness and willingness to change ultimately made me choose to join a sailboat with SailFuture in Italy, where I not only saw a new part of the world but where I embraced a new part of myself.
Daivion “Dee” Davis just turned 23. When he’s not writing, he enjoys traveling and helping out those in need.
Author’s note: I want to thank IOW for never giving up on me and always encouraging me to remember my potential when times get rough. I would also like to thank Jimmy Wu for being an awesome mentor and older brother who supports me every time he can. His spirit uplifts me to be a new person. I also want to thank SailFuture for an incredible trip around the world, for being a family to me out in Florida, and most of all showing me true brotherhood and Ubuntu. I am what they are.
The video above was put together by Daivion, Hunter Thompson and IOW.