Last night, Dewey Bozella, a man wrongly accused of murder some 30 years ago won the Arthur Ashe award on the ESPY’s. While I didn’t see his acceptance speech, my husband shared it with me-and I just watched the video about him and his life (see it here on YouTube).
I am so impressed by this man. Impressed and inspired, like so many who watched him and his story. He is man who knows the true meaning of freedom–and he learned it while in prison. He learned it before he ever got out and before he ever knew for certain that he’d be acquitted. He learned about it (ironically) from learning to fight (boxing), and he learned the difference between fighting for something vs. fighting against something.
He fought for his freedom–not against being in prison.
He fought for his name to be cleared once and for all, not against those who wrongly accused him.
He fought for the life he dreamt of having one day, not against the years he spent behind bars.
From what he says, he chose to be happy and to look forward–not back.
I see a man who is more free, and certainly was more free while in prison, than most people who’ve never been to prison. I’m talking about most of us who spend a lot of time fighting against our fears, negative emotions, thoughts, and limiting beliefs. One could argue Dewey had nothing left to lose, he was already in prison–so it was ‘easier’ for him to get to this place. I disagree. He was faced with losing the very thing that life is worth living for (in my opinion) and the thing that I hear over and over again from my clients, friends and even myself at times– the desire for and longing to be authentic and in integrity. The desire to be really seen and heard and truly understood for who you are without judgement or criticism, even if the only other face who will know you this deeply is the one you see in your mirror at night.
During a retrial, Dewey was offered to be let out on parol, to be set free from prison, if he simply signed an affidavit confessing to the murder he was accused of some 20 years prior. He said “No way.” He wasn’t going to say he did something he didn’t actually do in order to be a “free man”, because he got that he would NEVER BE FREE if he did that. He said he’d rather die in prison than admit to doing something like taking a person’s life when he never actually did. Maybe that sounds like a no-brainer to you, but consider the little lies you tell yourself everyday that serve your best interests in the short term, but not the long term. Those kinds of lies do as much damage, if not more, than the potential damage of pleading guilty to something you didn’t even do! I’m talking about soul-level damage.
I see and hear so many people (and I’ll admit to this too), caged in a self-made prison. A prison with bars made up from the beliefs, emotions, energy, and words. Words we heard from others and internalized and the words we tell ourselves, like: “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not worthy” or “I can’t say that to so-and-so because he would get upset or she can’t handle it”, or “if I’m truly myself, people will reject me.” Sound familiar?
Take a look at your life. Take a look at your relationships, your work, your business. How are you imprisoned by the things you believe and feel and say to yourself and others? Because, believe me–these words have power, they have substance AND they can either keep you imprisoned, or set you free. It’s up to you. It’s up to each of us.
Check out Dewey’s story. Let me know what you think.
And Dewey, thank you–thank you for having the courage to speak your truth–you truly are a freedom fighter.
From My Heart to Yours,