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The Bike

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

by Tommy M., a prisoner

For the past two months, I’ve consistently meditated morning and evening for about 30 minutes (more or less). I missed a few days here and there, but very few. Before the morning sitting, I did some yoga to work out the kinks and relax.

At first, bringing a little calm to my mind and peace to my morning was nice. But soon, during my morning routine, some rough stuff came into play. I started having memories overwhelm me-I and even allowed myself to be chased out of meditation by some of these memories. One of those bad memories I even have a hard time admitting.

One day when I was 13, living in New Jersey, I was hanging with a friend, walking around the neighborhood. We came across a 10-year-old kid who had a new mini-mountain bike. This kid was really happy about his new bike. He was so excited that he wanted me to ride it. The kid was so trusting-he must have had a good upbringing-he seemed to have no reason to distrust other kids. He didn’t seem to know what it was to be hurt. So I got on the bike and rode off. I think I was trying to impress my friend. Thus, I introduced that kid to some pain. That little kid was so happy about his bike. As I rode off, I knew it was bad to take the bike, but I did it anyway.

My friend told me later that when the little kid realized I wasn’t returning, he cried helplessly until his mom came out. I’ve done some terrible things that make me feel really bad. Remembering that kid and how mean I was to him is one of the worst.

I’d forgotten about this story for years, and one day it came up during meditation. I tried to sit through it, but I couldn’t-I get up and stopped meditating. Later I contemplated this story, and since then, the memory often returns. I keep seeing the little boy crying helplessly to his mom; the thought of him brings me to tears. I now realize why it brings me so much pain-I know what it’s like to be a little boy and cry helplessly to my mother. That’s the most pain I’ve ever felt, and I, in turn, brought that pain upon that little trusting kid.

During subsequent meditations visualizing the little boy brought more memories, including the pain I felt as a young boy. I cried helplessly as my mom was nearly getting beaten to death. This is difficult to write. Never in my life have I known such fear and pain.

Jarvis Master’s account of the same thing in his book Finding Freedom was so like what happened to me that I read through that page fast-it was so painful. I miss my mom so much. Why did I bring that pain to the little boy? Just to impress a friend. If I could get a hold of the 13-year-old me, I would kick his ass. What a cowardly thing to do! I never again wish to give anyone so much pain.

Lately, I think of how much suffering I’ve brought to people directly and indirectly. Mostly the ones who suffered indirectly got it the worst. Many times I wasn’t aware of the full extent of the damage I caused. Other times, I was aware, but my rage prevented me from caring. And yet other times, I cared but ignored what I knew was right in my heart.

I don’t want to live like that anymore. I’ve never enjoyed hurting people, yet I have mostly unnecessarily. When there is awareness, it’s hard to justify any of it. I want to live responsibly. The connection between people is becoming clearer-just how much we can all affect each other as well as just as how much suffering I caused becomes clearer. Despite all the negative karma I’ve created, I’m constantly reminded how lucky I am. In spite of that, I am-a convict who has brought lots of pain to so many people.

I’m amazed there is a PDN (Prison Dharma Network), an HKF (Human Kindness Foundation), and other organizations reaching out to convicts like me. The resources you have expended on me will bear fruit. They are bearing fruit. Thank you so much. I am beginning to understand compassion as well as humility.  I wish you all well. Sincerely, Tommy

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