Most Valuable Lessons

by Don Dillbeck

Incarcerated for more than forty-three years, including thirty plus years on death row, and columnist for Unconditional Freedom’s monthly newsletter for the past seven months, Don was executed in Florida on Feb 23, 2023.

Dear Readers,

As many of you already know I had a date of February 23rd set as a day of my execution. By the time this article is printed I very well may have dropped my body and begun a new chapter, a new saga, and who knows, possibly even a new character in this grand cosmic dance/play.

This being said, there is a strong possibility that this is my last time writing to you all.

When I first began this column, it was originally planned to be only a six-month period. Yet I had zero problem with contributing as long as I was asked and you readers enjoyed my words. I even imagined doing a question-and-answer column that way you could also have an interactive say and participate in how the column grew, not just read my words.

Little did I know, many of you would participate in even a more meaningful way. Last night, I had the opportunity to read the very kind and heartfelt words many of you wrote to the Governor of Florida asking for me to be granted clemency. Thank you and from the depths of my heart, I love you.

I will say it’s been a true pleasure having my words read by you, and it’s a joy knowing you were touched by them and you have been encouraged to seek more inner joy and personal freedom in your own hearts.

Like most young folk in prison when I first started ‘doing time’ I was very selfish and only thought about myself. It’s not just prisoners who have this limited view, but it seems to be a human growing experience for almost all humans regardless of our walk in life. We think life is so much about us.

It’s like when we were very little throwing our temper tantrums. Being so willful and demanding. “I want that bottle!” “I want some attention.” “Hold me now!” We expect life to go our way. If it rains when we have outdoor plans, it’s “How dare that weather!” We are ready to pout and complain. If someone can’t go to the movies with us, or do what we want, it’s just so unfair. There are endless examples of such mental and emotional torments of this nature all because we think life is about us.

In this article I will share some of the most valuable lessons that I’ve been gifted and blessed to learn over this life experience:

1. Life is not about me.

It’s really not our job to control the dance by expecting everything to go our way. I’ve learned to flow through life rather than try and control her. There is a rhythm and flow that when we are in harmony and in step, things just seem to work out right even when we were wishing or desiring something else. When I learn to get myself out of the way and let the flow run the natural course, I’m often quite amazed by the results. When I try to be forceful, that’s when it’s crazy and chaotic.

2. The only life worth living is the one with purpose.

When we become a willing servant for something greater than ourselves, whether we call it Spirit, Source, God, Goddess, Cosmos, or any other word we want to use. Helping with pleasure and joy rather than doing something we think we should be doing has this life become one rich adventure.

3. Stop judging ourselves and others.

Most of our beliefs of how we or others should be, or our expectations of mortality, are just plain nonsense. I’ve learned there are no greater swear words than should/shouldn’t, supposed to/not supposed to, shalt/shalt not, must, and have to.

I’m not here to tell anyone else how to live their lives. I’m not anyone else’s lord. Rather than think or feel I must do something or I’m not good, I would rather choose to do a kindness. When we want to do something rather than do it because we are supposed to, we put so much more energy into it.

Most judgments are just other’s beliefs that we picked up over the course of our lives that we never bothered to see how crazy and false they are. So be willing to show ourselves compassion and kindness rather than beat ourselves up. When we show ourselves compassion and kindness, it makes it so much easier to be this way with everyone else too. The person we need to forgive the most is the person who peeks back at us in the mirror.

4. No is just as important as yes.

It’s good to show kindness and be helpful, but also, we need to show wisdom and be willing to say no too. We are here to help not enable. If a child is about to touch a hot stove, we don’t yell “YES!” It’s, “NO!”

5. Lastly, never lose your defiant spirit.

Just because society thinks we should go along with traditions or beliefs, stand firmly against wrongness that everyone else tells you is right. Let your gut be your compass, not your head. If others don’t agree with you showing love and kindness, that’s really not your concern. What is your concern is if your heart tells you to be compassionate, but because of what others may think you chose not to. Now that’s a concern.

People will always have some reason or another not to like us. That’s not our problem at all. How we treat them, that’s our concern. Be defiant! Dare to show kindness, patience, understanding, and laugh at that which stands in your way because with love and wisdom and willingness, you are far greater than any roadblock. Defiance!

This is my wisdom, and you all have my love.

Brightest blessings,


The Rehumanization Magazine

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