Letter from Travis W.B.
Sugar Land, Texas
I received your letter last week and was absolutely elated to hear from you. I was hoping I’d be able to get in touch with you somehow before I go home. Yeah, that’s right. I’m finally going home. I’m scheduled to leave in March and I’m doing my best to get as focused as possible before I leave. I realize that I am not any better than the multitude of men that have walked out of here only to return; therefore, I’m making it my business to examine every area of my life in order to be absolutely positive that I am indeed ready. Ready not just to stay out, which would be rather mediocre, but rather I want to be ready to achieve the excellence that people like you helped me to see that I am capable of. For an ex-drug addict and alcoholic like myself it takes plenty of humility and honesty. Humility is needed for those moments when I might think that I’m above relapse, which would be the equivalent of dropping my guard. Honesty is always needed, especially when I try to lie to myself.
I think it is awesome that Toastmasters is becoming a part of more and more prisons. I don’t have to tell you what the Toastmasters experience did for me because you witnessed it yourself. You saw the growth; not just in my ability to communicate, but in my ability to lead as well. There’s not a time that I say something in a small or large group setting where people do not take notice of the fluidity and effectiveness with which I communicate. As you can imagine, this attention has done wonders for my confidence while I’m always careful not to cultivate my ego (God gets the glory). Even more so, I’m learning how to dream. I’m learning that a dream is the end result of a person fully developing their gift. Toastmasters showed me that I do have a gift and it gave me enough opportunities to stumble while I led and stammer while I spoke to see that there is always room for growth. I’m always careful to tell the brothers I come in contact with that think it just comes natural for some people that they are wrong. It takes hard work and a lot of practice. I simply tell them, “I’ve been trained.” I’m anxious to hear how the two clubs at Central are doing.* Who are the presidents? Will you please tell the guys I said “Hello”. And the volunteers are always on my mind as well. You guys are my heroes….especially those of you that help people to help themselves. I can’t say enough about you; Bill H., Lou P., Darrell O…..leaders that showed enough confidence and patience to encourage inmates that they too could be leaders.
Mr. Arnold I learned a lot from your example. Your Christian walk always seemed so pure to me. You had all of these different personalities, egos, levels of commitment and so on from all of the guys in the first club when we initially started and you always treated us with so much wisdom and grace. I never once saw any partiality. You truly are a servant of Christ. I really learned a lot from watching you operate and I mean that.
Well, I know you are a busy man, but I won’t lie and say I’m not serious to hear from you again. I’ve been serious about the seminary question and willing to do anything to prove my level of commitment. If you can point me in the right direction, I’d be very grateful.
*Travis was transferred to the Hightower Unit, located in Dayton, Texas, in the fall of 2003. He was released from prison in March, 2005. He went to Wyoming to be with his mother and brother. They will move to Lakewood, Colo., where Travis will attend a Christian university to get his degree. After that, he wants to go seminary.