The Transylvania Times -

Rosenwald News

 

August 22, 2019

Ricky Walker and family (Courtesy photo)

This week, it gives me tremendous pleasure to introduce an extraordinary man to you. I have known Ricky Walker since the early 1990s and was thankful for the opportunity to catch up with him this week. He is a family man – truly devoted to family. That comes across loud and clear, not only with what he says, but in what is observable. He is grateful for what life has taught and continues to teach him. His clear and direct gaze tells you that you have his complete attention. He is smart, articulate, deliberate with his words. He is a published author and a man that is all about truth and being real. This is our conversation:

How are you?

"I'm happy to be alive, to be honest."

You wrote a book while you were locked up, called, "I Was Just Thinking." What inspired you to do that?

"I was unable to communicate with my children as often as I wanted. I didn't have the resources to communicate by phone, so I wrote letters. I wrote many letters, with something each time to inspire them. Some letters I didn't send. When I looked through them and the advice that I had included, I decided to write a book. While I was incarcerated, I worked in the library. There was always a typewriter, and I began to write out things that I'd want to say to them every day. I didn't want to lose their attention. Children sometimes have short attention spans, so I kept it brief."

What's the difference, if any, of having written your book from an imprisoned space and your reality now being out of prison?

"Reality sets in with everyday activities, instant decisions to be made and not having the same way to process as slowly. Reality now is about fast choices, a fast pace. I try not to be fast, but to be deliberate to slow down and process, so as not to make bad decisions. Slowing things down to think it through... I literally practiced this, after my second year in prison, for 10 years."

What is your relationship like today with your children?

"Nowhere near what I envisioned it being. The busyness of life... it can be time consuming. They don't feel a need, like I do, for hand-to-hand and five senses. It's all about electronic communicating. I have three daughters and a son. I make every effort to befriend each one of them, to help them financially. I am trying to be a responsible man in every regard and to not play games in life as I did for so many years."

How is it now, getting back on your feet, navigating problematic influences... dealing with the system?

"Transitioning back out into society, it was very scary because of change and not being up to speed. I only spoke to my Mom while in prison. I sent many letters. Not much back. Arriving back, I first lived in a halfway house. I had to get a job within a certain amount of days. There was a pass system with a structure that was orderly and was helpful for me. I had two hours on my 'pass' to get an ID, file unemployment and then look for potential employment. I had interviews with employers. With each one, I would have to share my having been incarcerated. That out of the way, I was able to relax and remember my skill set from the past. While incarcerated, I helped men write resumes and navigate legalese.

"Ultimately, I am a salesman. I like talking to people. I worked for myself before. I did my own sales, marketing...providing a service that you need. With one job (liquid siding,) I was told that a black man couldn't do this. That just fired me up!"

Talk to me about your journey in life with or without substances.

"Out of control. I was compulsive. I used the substances properly. It made me a self-destructive individual who didn't believe in hope, courage or joy, and who learned to be fake. I couldn't be real with others. I wasn't real with myself. A dead-end road led me to be locked up. It was a daily suicide mission. Time consumed. 2007 was my last use.

"Without it, it has been a joyful, conscious, happy situation. I absolutely love life. I've been given a second opportunity, learning who Rick Walker is. I'm trying to get it right. It's a beautiful thing being real. I have a compulsive personality. I don't do a little. I work, play and love hard...with passion. In prison, I was in a maximum-type facility with men who had thrown compassion, bitterness and caution to the side. They were diverse. People from here, foreigners... Men in for 50 years, 60 years... life. They didn't care. I had to be an observer and try to read people. I was kind, humble, courteous. I remained calm, keeping a temperament that things didn't get to anger. I learned a lot about anger there. I used to think that anger wasn't a choice – well, how you choose to express it.

"Everything is available in prison. Heroin, all types of drugs, cell phones... It's a whole other world. The drugs...I couldn't do that. I worked. Other men worked and had jobs. Some chose not to. They were given a $5 minimum for the month, so they can't call it slavery."

What are your dreams today?

"To remain a productive person. It's a tough question. Ultimately, to be surrounded by my children, to have a successful life, to be well-rounded and balanced and surrounded by life. I don't need a whole lot. My desire is for my Mom to be healed. For me, to stay balanced mentally, financially, spiritually and emotionally. I was married for 17 years before we got divorced. Marriage again? That'd be a scary thought."

I encourage you to check out Ricky Walker's book, "I Was Just Thinking: A Book of Positive Advice From a Father in Prison to His Children." You can order it online. The book reveals the power of positivity. It is a powerful expression of hope, love and encouragement. Ricky's personality and his clear love for his children shines right through it. The things that he envisions for them relate to accomplishments, happiness, joy and, above all, love.

It is an informative book, particularly for parents, sharing a wealth of wisdom to deepen relationships. Walker's words and sentiments on each page encourage our children to not settle for second best and to not become content with complacency and mediocrity in life and to focus on the positives in life while eliminating the negatives.

The calendar, Faces Of Freedom – January 2020 – will feature this interview, in addition to showcasing a film project called "Thirty Seconds." This week, I am thankful that Ricky added his powerful voice to our creative project. Stay tuned for dates for that January event. If the stars align just right, I hope that Walker will be able to be there in person with you.

(Newsworthy items for submission for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, let me know at nicola@comporium.net or call (828) 421-8615. Enjoy your week.)

 
 

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