Usually authors give a short bio that tries to be equal parts snarky, endearing, and braggadocio. But I want to start a conversation with you, not create some brand image. So I’m going to do things a little bit differently.
I became an author because I feel I have something important to say. I feel I’ve discovered something really important – the true keys to how human beings can be happy. There are a lot of books out there on this subject, but most of them aren’t worth very much, being either impractical, or vague.
My book is all tools and techniques – many of them the product of painful experience.
And that’s what I want to share with you right now – who I am, and how I became that person. I’m not sure whether or not you’ll like me, but I hope that you can at least respect me.
I was very lucky in childhood. I was raised in Mountain View, California – the heart of what is now Silicon Valley. My family are all professional people, and I was raised in an upper-middle-class household of doctors and lawyers, receiving an excellent education, in comfortable surroundings.
I was also fortunate being intelligent, and having many talents. I traveled very widely as an adult – seeing much of Europe and of Asia.
But I was not a good person.
I had no integrity, had grandiose visions but no way of reaching them, and I had a tendency to take the easy way out. Overall, I was a person who had wasted the gifts and good luck bestowed on me by fate.
To make a long story short, I had settled in Thailand for several years – lots of beautiful women, very cheap cost of living, and easy to make money there.
I got caught up in a murder case and ended up serving prison time in the notorious Bang Kwang Prison (watch the video below). I served 5 1/2 years in prison in Thailand, and that experience gave birth to this book.
I went on to do another 11 years in different federal prisons in the United States. I spent time in Victorville (which inmates jokingly refer to as “victimville”), at FCI Tucson, and later at FCI La Tuna in Texas. You can see pics of these places right below this text.
F.C.I. La Tuna
The reason I mention all this is not to impress you. Instead, I want to try and make you understand how that experience led to the book I’m hoping you’ll read.
Prison is not at all what people think it is. It is true that prison has more violence than normal, and that it is much easier to die in prison than it is as a free person. But the main danger from prison is the effect on your mind and soul. There are really only two kinds of people that emerge from prison – those it has destroyed (the majority), and those who have transcended its terrible influence.
The reasons for this are rather simple. The people who end up in prison, as a general rule, are those who cannot get along in normal society. These are people who act badly, rule-breakers, and those whose behavior is simply unacceptable. And this is what makes prison so unpleasant, because these people don’t change. What happens is that prison is a society filled with people who can’t be thrown out! So they are free to behave as badly as they like. They are allowed to release their “inner asshole” to be crude about it, and there is no escaping these people. So you are locked up with many, many obnoxious individuals; both guards and inmates.
The result of so many negative influences, and the isolation it imposes on thoughtful intelligent people have a similar effect to the monasteries of long ago. The experience forces you to confront yourself, and ask searching questions about who you are, and who you want to be. It can be a transformative experience.
There are many great works of literature that have emerged from prison for this very reason. Don Quixote, by Cervantes. Much of Charles Dickens work, influenced by his childhood in a 19th century prison for children – the “workhouse”. Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The novels of Alexander Dumas – Count of Monte Cristo, the Man in the Iron Mask, and other works. And of course many political careers began in prison, notably Henry David Thoreau and his civil disobedience, Martin Luther King Junior, and Nelson Mandela, just to pick a few prominent ones.
I may (or may not) belong in such august company, but I am part of a tradition, of work born of pain and trauma.
Some cool murals in Tucson
The one above is my favorite.
I survived that experience, and became a much better man because of it. I’m really very fortunate – my family remains supportive, and I met many good people along the way who helped me in every way they could.
I ended up settling in Tucson – a very liberal community, filled with artistic, funny, and playful people.
I have a good life. My apartment is comfortable – you can see the pictures of my living room, and the view out the front window below. I drive a decent car, have a good job, and have great health. No complaints at all.
I have a constant battle to keep from getting fat, way too many good Mexican restaurants in town. And I seem to choose the wrong women – so my love life is lousy. But those are problems I’m creating for myself – and I don’t think it’s fair to whine about them.
And that’s about it! I hope you found this brief look at my life informative, and at least a little entertaining.
I really, truly want to have a conversation with you about the book – what you think of it, if it has helped you or not, and any suggestions or ideas you have about how to improve it. I hope with all my heart that this book can help people live happier, healthier lives. And I hope it does this for you.
Please – don’t be shy. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for sharing, and if you like we’ll be talking soon!