As I prepare to journey back north to stand before a judge in the ridiculous state of Michigan I am considering the moments in my past when the world has fallen out from under me, leaving in the place of solid form a vague discomfort.
At each point in the journey I have lived so far that everything seemed against me, that the friction I had been feeling in my existence seemed so great as to bring me finally to a stop, I have found the gates open, the light pouring forth in a burst of inspiration.
Once, standing on a beach in Florida, having spent the whole night driving south from Savannah to see a club in Jacksonville before it was torn down (Einstein’s) I felt as if the world had no meaning, that the shape of life had no form (much had recently happened in my personal life). But standing there, staring out over a black Atlantic the sky spoke to me. The form of life came once more clearly into focus, and left me with the energy to continue, to live and learn.
I can only hope that this weekend will offer a similar lesson to guide me.
There is something I find strange about people’s ability to look you in the eye and lie to you. (The only thing more frustrating than being lied to is being accused of lying when you know you are telling the truth.) What absolutely baffles me is how someone can lie to you, be called on it, and continue to lie even though you both know it is a lie and that they will continue the charade even though you have asked them not to.
What is it in human nature that allows for lying? I once saw a dog bark at the window in order to distract the other dogs from their bowls during feeding time. As soon as the other dogs came over to bark too the first dog quickly went over and began to eat the other dog’s food. Is lying an innate trait in higher animals that is used for survival? How can lying ever support the growth of the whole?
The frustration that comes from knowing the truth and being told otherwise is an impossible thing to manage. It eats at the base of the soul, driving one to suspect all words, all actions, as mere lies.
I have never understood why some people are so constantly distracted by their immediate desires that they can never get their life together. Somehow the impulsive side of people can overwhelm individuals and keep them trapped in a state of drifting – never finding the thing they want, always meandering through their days looking for fun without the consequence involved in seeking that which they truely desire.
Finding what you want in life is never easy. It takes sacrifice and patience and knowing that you may fail at any step on the path but as long as you keep on the path you will achive more than you can imagine.
Distraction in my life is a good thing. I find myself obsessively seeking out my goals without thought for comfort or happiness. I tend to wear blinders when trying to achive a certain task or reach a certain mental state. And although I may linger at specific points on the path of my life, I am always moving forward, regardless of whether I want to or not, in the river of time that surrounds me.
There exists a physical relationship between mankind and the things that it “owns.” Some how the physical object can come to have emotional value for the individual. This value comes through the ritual of objectification and is habitual in nature. Only when man can free itself from the attachment of emotions to the object will man be able to exist free from the physical form.
The tail end of this past weekend has left me with an unexpected experience I would like to share. From 6m on Sunday to 4pm on Monday I spent my time in jail. I started in one jail and was moved to another. The “how/why” of the experience is not really important (old speeding tickets catching up to me) but the experience itself is something to speak of.
In the US citizens that are severing time in prison have certain rights. Food, hygiene, basic comforts. These are for criminals that have been sentenced to serve time. These basic rights are not something you have if you are in jail (as opposed to prison). Jail is a temporary place, even though you can be there for up to a year you do not have the same rights that a prisoner does. I meet men who had gone weeks without showering, been feed spoiled bologna sandwiches for breakfast lunch and dinner for weeks on end. Slept on concrete floors with no blankets or other comforts. Some of these people were in for ridiculous reasons. (One person had been in for 3 days because he couldn’t pay the $50 fine (they only take cash, no credit cards or checks) and the courts were backed up, leaving him flat even though he had a job and school to attend.) None of these men had even seen a judge.
The state of our country can so easily be reflected in the state of the jail system. Not all jails are the same (the first place I was sent was nice, clean, and professional). The guards at the second jail (Jackson County, Michigan) treated everyone in the jail as if they were absolutely worthless regardless of their crimes. There was even a rack of blankets outside of the holding cell I was in (a 30x 15 foot concrete box with 23 people sleeping on the floor) though none were offered to any inmate.
The experience itself was enlightening. From the inside of the system one can see the treatment of humans firsthand. Looking back over my 24 hours in jail I realize that holding someone is a pointless exercise in punishment. That confinement, though distressing, only breeds a resilience to authority. Those men around me that had committed real crimes in the world were capable of confronting the situation with cunning and able to navigate the infrastructure to their benefit without serious harm. (I watched a drug deal be made in code over the phone, even though the conversation was recorded.) Those who were there, like myself, on pointless charges were the most affected, simply because there lack of experience made them ignorant of the potential dangers. (I never witnessed any inmate to inmate problems, though I watched guards physically punish inmates for mouthing off, slamming them to the floor, one was even kicked in the head for saying “this is bullshit” to a guard)
I have come away from the situation with a bit of humor and a bit of humbleness. Not anything that was instilled in me by the jail or its guards, but by the inmates ability to laugh and survive this ridiculously cruel treatment in the hopes of regaining their lost freedoms.