Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life After Death

Damien Echols used to be one of the unluckiest men on earth. Yet at the same time, he also happened to be one of the luckiest and most blessed men on earth. The story of the West Memphis Three has longed seeped into the American consciousness, mainly thanks to the Paradise Lost documentaries. This brilliant book tells us what it was like to live behind bars for almost two decades. It serves as a reminder to us not to take things for granted. Damien proves to be an exceptional writer. He was penning many of these chapters from his cell. There are humorous moments, and there are moments that cause you to show absolute contempt for his accusers and the country's justice system. Lots of hard feelings in here. He frequently goes back to his childhood and teenage years, where he spent living in poverty among a dysfunctional family. It is fascinating as it is painful and saddening to read about the things that went down on Death Row. But he never writes in a way that makes the reader feel nothing but pity for him. To think that he manged to stay sane all this time in the worst place imaginable blows my mind everytime. He was able to find a sort of peace while doing time for a murder he didn't commit, while awaiting his execution. For example, he turned to books. He turned to Zen and meditation, but even then, it takes an incredible amount of discipline not to break. The turning point came when he met his future wife. I have tremendous respect for this man. Those narcissists and those idiots who constantly use social media to bitch and moan about how 'screwed up' or mundane their daily lives are seriously need to read this.