Monday, April 27, 1987
Monday, April 27, 1987
Day 21 - 3 to go
Limited, Conditional Love
Three weeks in this man-made "world" of jail paints a sharp garish portrait of "Love One Another" reduced to man's vision. Such love that survives reminds me of similarly polarized magnets restrained in a common space. Prisoners do relate to one another, affect one another, but force maintains separation not community. Even when we had a number of peace people here my perception was isolation (we, I, name it Anarchy)above community. There are alliances, friendships (?) that form but those seem selfishly defensive arrangements to maintain separation. This jail is too small to create gangs but the lines of force favoring such a pattern are clear. Lines of force, bars of force, badges of force, laws of force, all here is force, fear, patriarchy at its purest form of top down power. And what that 10,000 year-old error allows to trickle down to the prisoner is powerlessness.
So all of us who have voluntarily (like a "voluntary" abortion, a desperate selection among evils) chosen to be prisoners wrestle with our powerlessness. I suspect that few of us (certainly not me) move very far through the grieving process that such a loss of life warrants. Denials that we have "died " is easy. The fact that we do live, that we will be released, that our "resurrection" is predictable (we know the date), all reinforce this first step in grieving. We make posters and sing songs about our "free" spirit no matter how incarcerated our body. But I know that body and spirit are one so that this denial of jailed spirit is some kind of lie.
Anger is easy for me, a staple of my energy, but of no use in this cage. It was anger directed toward deputies that made Beatty Jail so trying last October. This session anger is vague, fuzzy, directed at "the system" which chooses death at almost every turn. But clearly that kind of anger does nothing to move me through the grieving process that jail, this personal loss of life, deserves. Bargaining with jail is not impossible, but this too is insincere.
I promised myself (and all of you) that I would buy my way out of here rather than sink into a personally destructive experience. I still believe that I'm being honest in that promise but denial has overridden the need to face up to real bargaining. Literally bargaining has been serious for just a few hours and always terminated with the noise of jail routine - or the noise of other prisoners flailing at the jail system. Several young men and one Shoshone Indian exactly my age, (59) doing six months in here for trivial crime block my bargaining mind when the calendar shows just days to go.
Depression is another of my emotional staples but like anger it stays fuzzy, is limited to nothing more serious than boredom. And not much of that. Again, there is the distraction of noise - either the jail staple, or my own internal noise of wrestling with ideas in preference to dealing with emotion. With such a frustration of completing the early stages of denial, anger, bargaining and depression in the grieving process, it is just plain impossible to deal with acceptance of the "death" which jail is. I hope my resurrection next Thursday is joyous in spite of my denial of dying in this tomb.