By Roger Michael Morello
Pain, frustration and despair live and thrive behind the gates and walls and razor wire-capped fences of every prison in the world, and there remains no vaccination for the viral suffering that infects the incarcerated.
Diesel Spirit is not a book about prison or prisoners. It is not a novel, nor is it a self-help, rehabilitation or how-to text. But it is a book that should be read by anyone doing time who has the desire — and the will — to change the circumstances of his or her own life. Its contents are summarized in plain words right there on the cover: “Thought provoking insights on mindset, life, and success.”
Author Roger Michael Morello faced life circumstances many of us can identify with: a shattered and abusive early childhood, an adolescence dominated by bullies, the abandonment of one parent after the other, and an early adulthood spent drifting with no real home, no anchor, and no real friends.
As a teenager, Morello found a mentor, a positive role model who guided him to success in weightlifting and bodybuilding; he went on to win multiple competitions and became a two-time Junior Olympic gold medalist. But success was fleeting, and in a story we can all tell in our own words, the pain that lived within him went unresolved and drove him into the arms of addiction, depression, and desperation.
Morello knew he’d have to fight to overcome the external struggles that were consuming his life. “I was going to need to become someone I was not (in order) to step into what I would become,” he wrote.
He excised the bad influences from his life, took any job he could find, saved some money, and changed his environment and his habits. He landed a career-track job and rose through the ranks to manage several fitness clubs. He got married and built a good life with his wife. “(I) felt my dark days were well behind me.”
As ever in life, however, the past never stays truly behind us.
Piece by piece, the life he’d built began to crumble. His employer went belly-up. He was upside-down financially, and his bills became unmanageable. His wife betrayed him, and he discovered infidelities going back several years, to before they were even married.
“On my knees, in tears, I was alone and lost. … I so desperately wanted to understand why I was such a failure in every aspect of my life, even though I tried so hard to do well.”
Rather than stew in self-pity, though, Morello recognized his suffering as a blessing, an opportunity to be reborn.
“Birth is traumatic. It’s intense. You don’t enjoy being born. In fact, you come out crying and screaming,” he writes.
He turned his attention inward, focusing not on the external conditions of his life, but subjecting himself to a fierce internal scrutiny, an internal accounting of his own role in these painful failures.
“What was my contribution?” he asked himself. “How was I personally responsible? How did I ultimately arrive to the point I found myself in every aspect of my life?”
He found great power in holding himself accountable. He found that he had to go beyond outward decision-making and root out the beliefs that had driven him to repeated failures in life.
“I became a student of success,” Morello said. “I studied highly successful, self-made men and women. I studied their actions, mindset, and philosophies, all of which were very different than my own … a complete contradiction to everything I knew to be true.”
This was his awakening.
“My eyes were wide open. I was conscious. I was clear.”
Today, Morello considers himself to be a miracle. His transformative journey of insight and self-examination has made him a successful entrepreneur, the owner of a multi-million dollar rental real estate company that he calls a living testimony to the power of perseverance.
“It’s a reflection of a spirit that just won’t take no for an answer; a spirit that resolves to defy the odds, overcome all adversity, and will never back down. … It’s a reflection of a diesel spirit.”
All of this comes just from the introduction to Morello’s book. The next 350-plus pages are “a collection of thoughts insights, and beliefs written, based on and inspired by a story of struggle and adversity.” They are the reflection of a mindset cultivated through challenge, self-discovery, and hardship.
There is no table of contents, no index and no glossary. But open this book to any random page and read the first line your eyes fall upon. Your guaranteed first thought will be: “That’s so true.”
Read this book if you are a lifer who has ever been told you “lack insight.”
Read this book if you’ve ever felt like you were victimized by the justice system.
Read this book if you can’t figure out why you keep coming back to prison.
Read this book if you can’t see past your own pain, if personal responsibility and accountability are foreign to you, or if you recognize in yourself a need to find a new way of living.
Every single solitary one of us can find incredible riches on the pages of Diesel Spirit.