Are you agitated, wound up and stressed out? The longer I am out of prison, the more I am aware of these feelings. Some time ago, (and without much thought), I said to a friend, “The longer I am free, the more messed up I am getting”.
Being free means you have the freedom to choose. “Choose” is the operative word. Choose everything. What you do, how you act, how you react, how you think, how you process your thoughts, freedom to choose happiness, or freedom to act like a jerk.
A person who is locked up has very little freedom, and over time will adjust to managing the little freedoms they are given. For example; We were free to choose what books we wanted to read in the outdated library. I was able to stand in front of the romance section and scan all 23 used books. You might think “only 23”, well there were some advantages to that. It was easy to make a choice, rarely did I get overwhelmed with the selection. Not like selecting crackers from the grocery store…OMG, sea salt, rosemary and olive oil, cracked black pepper, reduced fat, original, brown rice, roasted garlic, sweet onion, sweet potato, red bean, etc…enough already!
After I read a book, I would return the “more used book” and then check another one out. It was easy to keep track of what I had read and what awaited me…unlike, netflix. I cannot remember if I watch the movie “Spotlight” or not.
This was a true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. And who can forget Michael Keaton!
I turned the movie on last night and it looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure. I felt as if I had seen parts of the movie, but did I ever finish it? If I did, was it good? If it was good, why can’t I remember? Do I invest my time and watch it again? Gezzz, what to do, what to do? Would it be a waste of my time to watch it again, or does this mean I ought to try it again and maybe I will remember it this time? This undecided feeling was not helping me to relax.
In prison we had the freedom to select our own toothpaste! (I know, I know, it’s overwhelmingly exciting, are you still reading?) Colgate or Crest, pick one or pick both if you can’t decide, (but then you might not have enough money for cheetos). I prefered Crest, and sometimes the prison had Crest 3D for whitening, although it was more expensive than the others, but if my teeth were white I felt better. (weirdo me).
The lack of variety, made our choices easy, simple and uncomplicated. Life as you and I know today, is full of diversity, tastes, colors, gadgets, passwords, organizations, meetup groups, shoe stores, calorie counters, sometimes it’s just too much. I’ve found myself in situations where it’s easier to walk away, and have a glass of wine instead.
I didn’t have the freedom to choose my job, clothing, meals, and the rules were not created by popular vote, but we were told where to go, where to report, when to return and when escape charges were issued. I knew what the expectations were, didn’t try to change the orders, I adapted. Didn’t mean I liked it!
Listening to people complain, worry, and fret about making decisions about what restaurant to make a reservation, and do we order the Chef’s special or the fillet? Do we visit the cabin for the weekend, or a long weekend? Should I drive the family car or the toy car? It never ends.
We ate what was served without stress. (although is was disgusting) and all of our weekends were long. Deciding on what car to drive was never an issue, nor was car maintenance, traffic jams, gas pumps or car washes. My wheels were my feet. Feet are important and I learned to take care of them. Keeping feet cushioned with appropriate socks, (tire treads) daily cleaning and drying,(car wash) and free from gravel or foreign objects, (road debri).
My “take it for granted attitude” changed to “how thankful for life”, the clean fragrances in the dewy morning air, the distinguishable chirps of the little birds waking up, watching the dark become daybreak and passing other ladies and joyfully saying, “good morning”. I felt pleased and richly rewarded to experience my 5 senses. I could see, hear, smell, taste and touch. It was all so magnified, while in prison…I didn’t want to lose it or forget it.
My desire was to do something greater than myself with my “time”. Even though I couldn’t actually see time, hear it, smell it, taste it or touch it, I knew it was there. Time had a purpose. I had a purpose.
Now that I am home, I am different, my thoughts are different. I continually protect and nurture my thoughts. Consciously shielding myself to yield from the pressures of societal expectations, being right, or being great, being well liked, popular or successful, it’s all so encompassing, restricting and chokes me.
Choosing to stay alert and monitor my own thoughts is my own personal free vacation. Staying mentally free, while I am physically free is the highest form of freedom.
Freedom is a privilege, and mental incarceration, is your own personal prison.
In-joying Freedom, Holly