What is it like to be in prison, escaped, and never to be caught again? Mark Yuzuik has someone who can tell us about that kind of life, doing more than just inspiring but also offering great wisdom to help us live the life we are meant to live. He sits down with Dan Anderson to talk about how he was unjustly convicted to 35 years in prison, how he broke out and escaped, and how he is never going back. He shares his life in prison and offers some great insights about learning how to mentally survive, not only the same situation but also those tough prison-like moments in our lives. Tune into this amazing conversation to know the importance of counting your blessings, living with love, and finding God even in the most unexpected places.
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Escaping Prison, Never To Be Caught Again With Dan Anderson
I’m going to interview somebody who escaped from prison, never to be caught or to return to prison again. This gentleman that I’m about to bring on will blow your mind. How did he break out? How did he escape? How come he’s never going back? I’ve got a very inspirational man to me, a friend of mine named Dan Anderson. Dan, thanks for being on my show. How are you doing?
First of all, thank you for taking the time. You’re out of prison. I like the fact that you’ve escaped, you broke out. A lot of people want to know how you did it. First of all, why did you go to prison? What was the lady thing? Was it the bank robber?
I had moved out to Colorado from Virginia to work at a ski resort. I was not familiar with the area. I took a wrong turn going east on a westbound lane. I had a head-on and two people died. They tested me at the scene of my accident and I was sober, but I had empty bottles in my car. I was offered little time, but I was convinced by my public defender to not take the deal and go to trial. I ended up with 34 years because of the test. I was told later by somebody in law enforcement that I got the most time served in North America for being found not guilty of DUI, but I can’t say that.
You didn’t hire an attorney. You hired a public defender. Is that right?
They appointed me a public defender. I had an opportunity to get a private one, but my mom just died, my brother passed, and my other brother was sick. Any money that I could have gotten or had tied up in real estate were unavailable to me. I never have been in trouble in my life. I spoke to a guy that seemed pretty aloof and well-known and this was in ‘95. It was in an election year.
I read the transcripts Dan and it appeared to me that you shouldn’t have served anytime. This was a real accident that when you read the transcripts, you shouldn’t have been in prison at all. As you say, sometimes it’s political that you don’t know what it is and people and news will oftentimes blow things up bigger than they are because the story is more important than the person itself.
I think that was the case. It was the perfect opportunity for a group that I have done in the past work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving because you shouldn’t drink and drive. I’m not saying that I never have because I have. That night, I hadn’t until after the wreck waiting for the ambulance because of the rain. It rained more than one night here in the county that I lived in than it had in the entire year. It was low visibility. I didn’t have my glasses on. I was unfamiliar with the area. I didn’t use good sense. I’m trying to get back up to a resort and what happened happened. I didn’t take the deal.
Were you offered the deal not to go to trial?
Yes.In life, when things are bad, they could always be worse. Click To Tweet
When you know you are not guilty, you don’t take the deal. I understand that. After reading the transcript, I would have done exactly what you did Dan. Unfortunately, I don’t think your public defender was on your side.
No, but I think the bigger tragedy was that I was the cause of an accident that I tried to prevent. I only had seconds to react. However, all that being said, you’ve got to look at it one or two ways because it was all surreal to me. I had come out of Virginia. I was very good in the field I worked in. I was in a resort sales and had done quite well. I think I was numb, pretty much in shock for the first few years. I looked back as it was happening and it was like watching a movie of myself, but it wasn’t me. It was like somebody that looked like me. It’s hard to believe that I went through what I went through and I came out the other end and escaped.
You were in prison. I visited you in prison several times. What happened when you first got there? What was that like?
In the state that I am in, everybody gets processed in Denver, and then you go to a place called Canyon City, where they have fourteen prisons. They test you to find out what your aptitude is, where should they put you. They parlay that with the amount of time that they give you to decide, where is this guy going to survive the best at? Because of the length of time I got, I automatically went to max. In Colorado, it’s not a supermax because that goes with intent. When I got out of Cañon City and they sent me to this other place in Cañon City, you go from the walls and that’s where they process you and then I was mistaken for someone else.
They have these buses, they call them the Great Goose. I remember talking to you about this, but there was a guy that had raped a little girl in Colorado Springs. He was on his way to prison and everybody was waiting on this guy because he wasn’t going to survive and he didn’t. His bus broke down. He was a tall guy. I’m tall. I’m on crutches. He was on crutches. When I got there, our bus was supposed to be the second bus, it became the first bus. Here I come off the Great Goose with my crutches. The powers to be, the criminal element that is in prison who know everything, they mistook me for someone else. My first couple of days while I was incarcerated in what they call receiving, that’s before they decide where you’re going to live, who you’re going to live with, what pod, wing, unit, or building. I got tossed off of about 15 feet off there on a 2nd or 3rd floor. I had strict restrictions. No lower bunk and lower-tier because I had broken my hip. It was fractured. They had repaired me in the hospital from the wreck, but I was on the mend until that happened.
Did they throw you off of a third story?
I pretty much got tossed. When I went to the infirmary, they realized that I wasn’t who they thought I was.
Who threw you off? The guards? The prisoners?
I want to get that because this blows my mind. The guards didn’t do anything. They turned a blind eye. There are some things that I know you cannot talk about.
When they put me up on that floor, I told the CO, “I’m not supposed to be doing stairs. I’ve got a fractured hip.” He had already been souped-up thinking I was this other guy. He didn’t know. There was a blind eye. By the time I got to the infirmary, they realized, “This isn’t the dude.” It was then a matter of, “He knows who did it.” I find this out after the fact down the road that they’d still considered killing me because they didn’t want me to rat on these initiates. At that point in my life, I wanted to die. I wasn’t going to kill myself, but if somebody else was or if the clouds opened up and like Elijah got taken up by God, I would’ve been fine with that, but it didn’t happen and the rest is history.
You never ratted out anybody.
You had to come to the conclusion that it was a mistaken identity. It wasn’t personally for you. You’re in a different mindset when you’re in survival. I remember we had Danny Trejo. He is a famous actor. He had done a lot of prison time. He basically said, “When you walk into prison, you’re either the prey or you’re going to be hunt the hunter. Which one do you decide when you wake up every day?” Here’s what he answered, “You’re a big guy. You’re fit. You can handle yourself.” Danny was a little guy. I’m only 5’8”. I would be scared. Do you see that the bigger guys in prison? What’s it like in there? What are your experiences?
It’s good to be big. Most people work out for their own self-protection and the prisoners, as a management tool, it’s like everybody has a TV. The more people are watching TV or working out, the less chicanery or orneriness they can get into. My thing was, I had been big, but I was broken up. I rebroke the hip when I got tossed. I had to walk around with a broken hip for 1 year, 3 months, and 2 days until they replaced it because I sued them. I got my uncle involved who was a physician and a big-time doctor on his own accord. He called a friend of a friend and finally, I got a good surgeon from Seattle. They flew him down and he interviewed me. When he realized I had had a broken hip, that I was walking around with a broken hip for over a year, he got on the phone. Within days, I was in a private hospital, chained up, to have my hip replaced, which they did. That was many years ago.
Nobody messed with you with a broken hip after that.
No, because I used humor and vanity to survive. There were plenty of youngsters that were easy pickings for the real predators. Most of the predators that you hear about, for the most part, are cowards.
With the size that runs the prison, I knew you had nothing to do with gang affiliation, whatsoever. It’s not your style.
You have to have something. I remember they used to call me Shawshank because I had been in the resort business. I was a realtor. There was a guy when he realized I wasn’t going to rat, he approached me. He was somebody in prison that had an aunt that needed to find a home in Colorado Springs. I had a friend that happened to be a realtor in Colorado Springs. A friend of my brother, David was his name. I explained to David in-person because I told him, “You have to come to see me.” That was pretty smart on my end, looking back because what happened was David found a HUD home foreclosure for this gentleman’s aunt and that sealed my fate. I have never been messed with after that.
I did him a solid and there are a lot of guys in prison that can say they can do something and can’t. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I accomplished what I told them I could do after begging David to do it for me and he did. I helped the right person’s family out and as long as I was in Colorado. I come to find out I met someone I got to send up to Minnesota because they transfer you a lot. When the prisons get overcrowded, we’ve been to Texas, that was a riot. Minnesota, that was a riot. I have been trying to get back to my home state of Missouri to be near my son, Ryan. That took me five years, but by the grace of God and the universe, I was allowed to eventually transfer. Even there, I ran into people that this person that I helped in Colorado knew. He was somebody, but he was the one I helped. After that, it was a lot easier.You’ve got to count your blessings when we get inundated with all the media, all the buzz, and all the peripheral stuff. Click To Tweet
You were the guy that kept everybody calm, laughing, and smiling. You made peace with everybody. As you said, “It’s a vanity place,” and that surprised me. When you take care of your own and you do some things for each other, the payback in prison, it’s a different law and rules in there. It is not the streets. It’s the real deal in there. People don’t realize that. They don’t know what you had to go through. When I say you escaped, you actually broke out of prison. I don’t know how long you were in prison for, mentally. You escaped mentally and that’s what I talked about escaping. I heard a story and I don’t know how true this is. Did you not save a guard’s life one time?
I did in Minnesota. She was the CO.
What is a CO?
Their Correctional Officer. She worked at a private for-profit prison up in Minnesota. She handed out weight belts and chalk. She was a cute little gal, pregnant. The funny thing about being transferred is you’ve got two groups of people and it’s completely opposite. If you’re a good inmate, if you know how to lay down work, you’re industrious, you stay out of trouble, that state will send you to another state because they know they’re the one going to get paid for you and you’re not going to cause any trouble. The second group is people that the state doesn’t want and they want to get out and get rid of and they’ll send those. You have the best of the best. As far as being model prisoners. You get guys in from Pelican Bay that nobody wants that they send from California. I was there when this all went down, but it was during the 4th of July. There was a big softball tournament. They were playing horseshoes and this young black kid from Minneapolis, he walked across this Aryan’s horseshoe gang.
What are Aryans?
They’re like white supremacists. They were like, “Get the heck off. We’re playing. We’re here.” The kid disrespected them and said something. They then disrespected him, call him whatever. That was the beginning. That was on a Thursday and by Saturday, all hell broke loose. I was only up there for probably seven months, you came up and saw me. It was a major riot. They brought in the national guard. I’m on crutches. I’d had my hip replaced, but I was still in recovery. I crutched around and I was going through the weight room. It was built like a submarine. Everything was inside this huge building. You didn’t have to go out. It was like a giant horseshoe and everything was inside and then the yard was in the center of the horseshoe. This girl was being raped. She was getting ready to be raped by this big monster guy from Minnesota.
She was sweet to me. I’m not one to lay back so I grabbed up something big because if I didn’t knock him out, he was going to kill me. I’m on crutches. I clobbered him good a few times and I took her to the pharmacy to hide her. I went back to my room. A couple of days later, I was called to the superintendent, the warden’s office. I thought, “They got it all on video because there were cameras everywhere,” and sure enough, they did. It was the superintendent’s niece. He said, “If this was a state-run facility, I would write the governor. There’s a letter on my file that’s in DOC that this all happened and what I did, but I basically saved her life. I kept her from being raped. We all got transferred back to Colorado and no sooner after that because the people that I had been writing to for five years saying, “Let me get to Missouri.” The Interstate Compact people, they came up and moved all Colorado inmates back from Minnesota back to Colorado. I worked in the property room and they said, “Would you like to help us pack everybody up?” I said, “Sure, no problem.”
I did. As a result, I get to know the people I’m helping. One day, he’s like, “By the way, what are you here for? You told me this years ago, but you don’t even seem like you fit in here.” If you recall that conversation we had. I explained it to him and he went, “You’ve been writing to me.” I was like, “What?” He went, “You’ve been writing me letters.” I was like, “Why didn’t you ever answer?” He went, “I get many letters.” His name was Jim Clemens. He said, “Can you pay your way to get to Missouri?” That’s when I called you and said, “Mark, will you help pay my way to get to Missouri?” You said, “Sure.” Do you remember?
I do remember. You find out who your friends are when you’re in prison, don’t you?
Yes, and your brothers. It’s because of your help, I got to Missouri. I got to be closer to my son and my sister. A high school sweetheart came and rolled up on me and that’s a whole other story. I ended up in Missouri and everybody thought I was like an undercover cop or something because I was buffed and had a flat top. I was happy in the worst situation because I was in Missouri. Colorado is twenty years behind Minnesota. Missouri is twenty years behind Colorado. You go to the walls, it’s closed now, but it was a 200-year-old prison. You’ve been there. You come and saw me. It looked like Shawshank, something Stephen King thought up in his mind. It was incredible. That’s when I started honing and began understanding. I guess that’s one of the things. If you don’t have hope, Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” You’ve got to have that kind of faith and hope that there’s going to be a better day or you can settle and then die inside emotionally, spiritually, or mentally.
How did you survive mentally in prison, Dan? We are in this quarantine and this blog will be read years down the road. People are complaining and going crazy because we are quarantined in two weeks and I called Jeff and go, “Brother, I’m in quarantine for seventeen years. This is two weeks and a piece of cake.” How did you mentally survive? When I talk about escaping from prison, people are quarantined physically here, but not mentally, but some are mentally. Some are in prison now that are not in there physically, but they’re in their mind. You are such an inspiration to me, Dan. That’s why I wanted to adopt you as my big brother because the problems that I thought I had were nothing compared to what you went through. Yet, you made them no problems at all. You’re like, “It’s just daily. It’s what we do.” You’re a speaker. You’re an inspiration. You need to get your message out there to as many kids up there as possible to say, what are your opportunities and how do you deal with this mentally? How did you survive mentally in prison?
There was a movie called Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Do you remember it?
Yes, I do.
There was a point that he was afraid at first. He’d fly in supplies and stuff and all the specimen. Her husband had died of malaria and their crops burned. All this one thing after another bad happened and he posts that question to her. I remember that because it resonated with me, but it stuck with me and she says, “I make it worse in my head.” I think initially, I became grateful for what it wasn’t.
Do you know how when you say something to your heart, you get goosebumps and all that? I’ve never heard that before.
In life, when things are bad, they could always be worse. If you have an imagination, all you have to do is to put yourself in the worst situation and then thank God to yourself that you’re not in it. What I did was I soon realized, “This could be a whole lot worse.” I would play that out in my mind and then I would count the day a blessing because it wasn’t as bad. The picture that I produced in my mind is what I lived in. I’m telling you, looking back now, I just shake my head. I think God works that way. You’ve got to count your blessings when we get inundated with all the media, all the buzz, and all the peripheral stuff. Where we don’t stop, look, and listen to our hearts and self-reflect and meditate on the reality of what is. Having been a Christian, understanding about Job and Joseph being thrown in the well by his own brothers and being sold down the river to the Egyptians. When I ultimately became a barber in prison, it was because of that story.
Did you become a barber in prison? Why did you do that?
I wasn’t a gang banger. I fell when I was 34. They would’ve loved to have me, but if you don’t belong to some group, then you’re not protected. I’m not a snitch. Sitting and observing, as you do in sales, I realized everybody had a certain vanity about them. They wanted to have the best haircut. They wanted to have their clothes pressed. They wanted to be the most presentable if it was to a nurse or a female case manager because it’s your life. You try to represent the best you physically and visually. I figured if I became a barber, I could barber the Aryans, the Blacks, the Moores, the Muslims. Everybody’s got their own vanity trigger.
I played to the vanity like Joseph played when they needed a good accountant. He ended up being like the number two guy who worked for the Pharaoh and he ended up buying things. That was the model for me to try to find a place that I fit in. I became everybody’s barber. I’m not in a group, I’m not affiliated, but I am because I’m their barber. That catapulted me into becoming a staff barber, which is what led me to be coming out of prison. I’m cutting the hair of the Director of DOC, the Lieutenant Governor. I’m in Jeff City. I got to cut and shine shoes. I added a sewing machine and I started doing sewing and custom fitting guards uniforms. Find a need, fill the need. That’s what I did.
You fought with love and with connection instead of fighting with getting in a gang and going down that road. You had a choice to make, and you said, “I’m going to find the better way, the better choice in life because I’m here.” What I loved about it is your illusion is your reality and your life could have been worse, but your illusion is, “How do I make it better?” That’s what people don’t realize. They get trapped and thinking that they have to go somewhere else and they don’t have a choice. What was the most difficult time of being incarcerated for you?You can find out one thing in a person that's worthy of love, and then they feel you. Click To Tweet
There were a couple of things. One was dealing with my own imperfections, my character defects because prison boils you down to your essence. People can see right through you. There are people in prison that have PhDs in Human Behavior. You’ve got to take a hard look at yourself because you can’t live a lie in prison. That’s pretty hard. The ego, it is a humble pie. You might be a cake person, but everybody’s got to eat some humble pie and keep it real. I think that was one, dealing with my own. I was responsible regardless of being not being drunk. Two people died because I got lost. How am I going to live my life knowing that I’m a people person that I’ve worked with kids my whole life?
From the Boy Scouts, the YMCAs, nursing homes, my whole life, I was not geared. They presented me in a way that I wasn’t. I held true to that by remembering first who I was, and not buying into the package they wanted to put you into. The second thing was the connections. We became brothers. You coming to see me validated my effort to continue to do the next right thing. It was important that I mend fences with old family and friends and that I made new ones and be a person that they would be proud to call their friend.
I never saw you as somebody who was a criminal. I just saw you as somebody who was in prison and not a criminal. We had limited access to you, but that was it. Where did you find happiness at? You’re in these four walls or this prison. It’s not a luxury. It’s not like at cable TV and all this stuff. How did you find happiness? Where did you go for that? There are people out in the world that are unhappy, Dan, and they’re not in prison. I look at some of these people. You know my background, I’ve been an entertainer for 30 years. I’ve worked with some celebrities that have taken their own life. I think of Robin Williams. I think of all these people like, “My friend was in prison and happier.”
Regardless, if you’re in or out of prison, you can live in a way that is a benefit to others in or out of prison that validates the type of person that you are. I found happiness in doing the next right thing, but I love to read. I worked out. I was a beast then, but the funny thing is I was happy knowing that there were people out there waiting on me to get out. There was a mantra that a brother and I used to repeat to each other every day, any day. You never told anybody when you were getting out. That was not in a max. Because in max, there are people that are never getting out. They have a life without. I was given 34 years. I shouldn’t have been out until 2024, but by the grace of God and making friends as a barber with the right people, they got me out, which was an escape.
You also were a model prisoner and you served a lot of people in there too. What were some of the saddest times? What made you the saddest the most? We all get that, even not being in prison. There are days where we’re sad.
No bullshit. My most sad days were when I would have a visit and those visitors would leave.
That would break my heart. I remember going to the parking lot and with tears in my eyes thinking, “Can I break him out? He’s not mentally in prison and I’ve got to be grateful for that.”
Not being there for the deaths of family members, a birthday. My son, Ryan, who I see still beloved to me and I still reach out to them, but it affected our relationship because I was gone. The sacrifice has other people made like my ex, Cynthia. Knowing that they’re out there struggling with day-to-day life. The struggles that you had to do with me being powerless to do anything other than try to live my next, to be a good example. When things would get bad for my friends, like you on the street, you’d go, “At least, I’m not in a situation like Dan and he’s making the best of it.”
Hopefully, I tried to live by the example. I didn’t go too dark. There were some times that I didn’t know I was going to live to see the end of the day because of politics and prison riots. I was through 6 or 7 riots that were pretty major. They called in the National Guard. People get vendettas and to answer that question, you never told anybody when you were going to get out, if you got out, because there would be people there that would take your life to keep people getting out because they never were. I know the guys like that, evil people.
Did you ever see anybody get killed in prison?
You said it like it’s normal, like, “That happens all the time.” You can’t talk about it. We definitely don’t want to bring up any names because you’ve got to protect the people and respect them.
They had a homicide average a month on the bloodiest 40 acres in North America called The Walls in Jeff City, Missouri before they closed it because there weren’t cameras everywhere like the new place. Guards would come correct because there were too many blind spots for them to be got and they knew that. It was a whole different set up than the new prison with a thousand cameras and then human nature, you thought, “I always gave great respect to everyone.” I gave nobody any reason. When there was a disagreement or somebody put something out there that wasn’t true, I would go make a prison cake. I would make a meal. I would take it to the guy that thought that I had said something or done something about him and I would say, “I know what’s going on. I heard some stuff that isn’t. I figured we could sit down and have a piece of cake or have dinner and talk about it.” It would just blow them away. It’s just Sales 101. It’s what I do. That’s why I ended up having a large group of people that would have killed other people for me if they would have thought that I was in danger. That was with guards or with inmates.
Do you ever get close to a riot where you were on crutches and somebody had to jump in and help you out?
Yes. I’ve had several friends. One who was a doctor. He was a chiropractor. He was a national rugby coach. His name is James. You met him. He was the guy that died two weeks before I got back out to Colorado. It broke my heart because he was such a wonderful human being. He came in on a buck case and he was like a fifth-degree black belt. I was on my way up to the library. I was going to the post office to drop off my mail, go to the library, check out my five books, and go back. There was a big gang fight and everybody had knives because they had a metal shop there and there are people getting stuck and throwing around.
This group was violent young black men, but it was going down and James came up behind me because his house got let out right after our house got let out. He was behind me. I was away from him at the top of the stairs when all of this stuff broke out. He ran up and all I remember is it looked like a Kung Fu movie. I think everybody he touched got hurt. They had to call him three ambulances. It was crazy. After that, they were like, “Don’t mess with that chiropractor.” James didn’t act like a badass.
At least, small people are able to defend themselves. Who are some of the toughest people in prison? Are they the big guys? Sometimes you think that this guy’s not that big, but be careful. You don’t know who you don’t know. Like Danny Trejo used to say that he goes, “I’m only 5’4”. I had to be the biggest baddest mother in there.
I didn’t realize he was that short, but I know that he is the most dangerous guy I have ever seen. He was this little guy, 5’4”. He was dangerous. He was like Lex Luthor. He was brilliant. He ran everything. When I met him in Minnesota, I had him laughing. I didn’t know who he was, but then I had somebody to roll up on me and go, “What are you doing with that dude?” I was like, “We were just talking. I was telling them a story. I’m from the Ozarks, that’s what we do.” He then ran it down to me. I call him Napoleon because he reminds me of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was a small guy, but he was brilliant. This guy ran everything. It was crazy.
There were the guys that do burpees and pushups all day. The key to surviving in prison and why people work out, it wasn’t because there weren’t a lot of guys that were tougher than you. They could whip your butt, but eventually, if they weren’t in better shape than you, they could only whip your butt so long. Once they ran out of gas, that’s when you turn on your motor. I’ve had my butt kicked a few times, but I ended up winning because I was in better shape. I took it until they couldn’t throw it anymore. That’s when I would start.
That was my mindset. I didn’t look for trouble. Sometimes, I had to stand up for groups of people because that’s what you had to do. That’s life, but I always tried to be on the right side of things. I had wonderful black and white friends. I helped bring people together that were completely disparate politically, geo-politically as far as prison goes. I know this for a fact, Mark, and that is love never fails. You can find out one thing in a person that’s worthy of love and then they feel you. I’m not an emotional savant. Maybe I am. I think that you have to be open to the idea that you can sense the vibes of people like dogs can’t. I tried to hone that and then I was trying to be the best version of myself that I could be and do it honestly. I never fronted. I never went around. I might’ve looked like a tough guy, but I didn’t act like that. I was very respectful because even the smallest cat can roll up a knife between your 3rd and 4th rib, you’re over.
This guy was pretty feared. He was crazy.We get caught up in the rat race that we forget to take time out with the people we love the most. Click To Tweet
He was like a Soprano. I gave him a lot of respect and I didn’t know who he was when he rolled up on me and I had him laughing. I didn’t get to know him very well because of the big riot. He was from Minnesota and he was there, but he was from California. Maybe Chino or one of the big prisons out there, but he was a mastermind. He was brilliant. We talked about a lot of different things. I think that what people have to realize and understand during this difficult time is how lucky they are to be able to take a moment and reflect on the things that they should be more important to them that they don’t spend all that time thinking about. We all get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to bed. We all do it in our own fashion.
We get caught up in the rat race and we forget to take time outs with the people that we love the most and spend the least amount of time with. I’m guilty of that because I’ve been trying to catch up since I got out. I have to stop and count to ten and remember that it’s the journey, not the destination. I think now people that have dusty shoes in their closet that they’ve forgotten about it, they need to go out and get the Kiwi and do some shoe shine while they’re off during this Corona outbreak. Plant a garden or pet a dog.
I love the fact that not only you escaped prison mentally, but you also helped a lot of others escape prison mentally too. You’re a role model. Things happen, but what you did with what happened to you, it happened for you at the same time. When I look at you, I look at your beautiful wife and your beautiful little girl, what a blessing to have Sparrow in your life, Kimberly, your wife, and your children. You don’t take it for granted. You’re appreciative and maybe that’s how you kept hope alive because you knew one day, you walked into prison a Christian and you walk out of prison. Some people find God in prison. They think that that’s where they find them, but you always had that.
We’ve got to believe or not believe, but I think that strengthened who you already were. For me, when I look and think I have a tough day and I talked about people being in quarantine. You’re only quarantined physically, not mentally. What are your opportunities? Even you said it best where you laughed, “I’ve been quarantined for seventeen years. I was never in there though.” I just got to laugh when you said it. The next time we think about complaining about being in rush hour traffic and maybe we can be grateful to say, “We all have a job.” When somebody says, “I don’t have enough time to do anything.” Now you’ve got all the time in the world. What are you going to do with your time? How are you going to spend it?
You made it clear. If you’ve got dusty shoes in there, maybe you need to shine your shoes and appreciate what you have instead of what you don’t have. You’ve always been an inspiration, not just to me, but obviously to my wife, to our best friend, Lloyd, who would come and see you too. I only met you through the prison. I didn’t meet you outside first, but I never thought you were a prisoner. We call each other brothers for a reason. I know I can call you at any time and you can call me. Before we end this, for people that are reading this, maybe they have somebody in jail or not in jail. They might be on the wrong path to get them away from the path. Maybe they’re mentally in prison. How do they get out? You’re the man that’s lived, breathed that, and done it. You didn’t think about it. You did it. We could only imagine what you went through, but nobody knows what you go through until you’ve been down that path. I look at you now and it’s like, “You’re older and in your 50s, but you still look like you’re in your late 30s.” You’re so grateful.
There’s one thing that you can always do that will always work every time. When you’re in trouble or you’re having a bad day, reach out to somebody having the worst day. That sounds rather trite, but it’s the truth. If you’re having trouble, lend a helping hand to somebody that’s worse off than you, because that’s the only way that you all ever heal yourself from all the pain and frustration. Finding yourself between a rock and a hard place is helping somebody get out of the rock and hard place that they might be in. It could be a handshake. It could be a $1 bill. It could be an ear. It could be a laugh for a smile, but there are people out there that are worse off than you are.
When I had to get a checkup from the neck up, I’ll reach out. I belong to a few non-profit volunteers, Meals On Wheels. I try to pay it forward. When I’m having a bad day, it’s too easy to go out and find somebody having the worst day. It’s easier sometimes to help them up. It’s starting the carb. Putting gas in the carburetor starts your lawnmower. You have to prime the pump. Sometimes it’s easier to start when you prime someone else’s pump because we know we get in our own way so much because of our ego. I know it’s easier for me to step out of self for somebody else I don’t even know.
It’s like having a conversation at a Walmart with a complete stranger even you’re doing it 6 feet away. I have a Walmart philosophy. If you ever want to know the truth about something, talk to a complete stranger at Walmart and they’ll tell you exactly what you want to hear. Not always, sometimes they’ll agree with your wife. I’m like, “You’re going to trust this person over me?” It’s easy consensus on the ten items or less line of Walmart, but you have to stand back 6 feet. I do 8. I’m always trying to do a little more.
That’s how you made it and what you’re saying is contribution. Find out what other stuff somebody else needs. Make sure you meet their needs and it frees you of the ego that you were thinking about yourself. That’s why you made it through the prison. Dan, I cannot thank you enough. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time because there are a lot of people in prison now but they’re not even in jail. You escaped and you helped a lot of other people escape. You’re a role model outside the prison, not just in it. Again, Dan Anderson, thank you for being here. Go to subscribe to be notified of my other show. Go to my website, GetYourMindSetWithMark.com. Download my free book, Creating the Life You Want. Until next time, God bless you and make sure you know one thing. Don’t you let anybody take control of your mind or keep you quarantined mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ll see you soon.
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