02 September, 2023

Half Life

Not to say that I've dreaded it, but I have not looked forward to today. After this, the balance tips. A younger, more pessimistic version of myself might've offered up a grim little quip in response something ironic like, "It's all downhill from here." My perspective now is a bit broader than it used to be. Still, by this time tomorrow, and for every day that follows, unless my circumstances drastically change, I will have spent more time in prison than I've spent free.

Forty-four years after my birth, and twenty-two after my wrongful arrest, today marks the midway point between two important dates a mathematical truth with which I'm finding difficulty coming fully to terms. It seems only logical that someone who's spent the greater part of his adult life imprisoned would be substantially changed (not to say wounded; not to say stunted; not to say irreparably damaged) by the fact, but I'm less concerned with what effects such a long period of imprisonment has wrought than I am with how one should feel about crossing this particular threshold. That distinction is one of immediacy. I have the rest of my life to deal with results, but in the here and the now my mind is reeling with conflicting thoughts.

We humans are pattern-seeking creatures. In the absence of visible order, we endeavor to impose our own. The zodiac, numerology, the I Ching, Libertarianism, psychology, Freemasonry, and other disparate systems represent society's attempts to wrangle reality into a quantifiable order, to make predictable the apparent chaos of our universe. To what extent they succeed can (and will) be argued elsewhere, by someone else. My concern is what to do about 2 September.

Surely this date means something, or should mean something. An anniversary is observed with intent, but this isn't an anniversary. An expiration date serves to predict a product's usability, but I'm not expiring, and neither is my sentence of life without parole. What, then, does 2 September represent? What is its ultimate import, and what is the most healthy way to process something of that significance? And so, uncertainty.

Like California's electrical grid, I've been experiencing rolling periods of inactivity. For several days in a row, at times when I should be most active and alive, I've experienced the greatest strain. Motivation is low. There's a strong desire to sleep more. The tendency is to pessimism. On Wednesday, rather than risk irritation with my coworkers, I chose to take a half day off. I washed some laundry, read forty pages of a sociology text, then sat in meditation, hoping that by setting an intention to befriend, and thereby release, the worry, resentment, and inferiority that arise when I think about 2 September, I might go forward without its weight on my back, no longer moved to be surly and uncommunicative with people because of something I alone feel. I don't know if it helped or not.

Oftentimes, the only way out is through. There's no breath exercise that will blow this insidious feeling away. Like a storm, it probably just has to be weathered. That's cold comfort for a man out in the rain, but it is a truth. Tomorrow I'll wake up and see the world with eyes made new by the myriad subtle changes that happen in every moment, always. There's some solace in that and in the hope that it engenders that the me who wakes up on 3 September easily finds the path forward and takes his step with grace and dignity.

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Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.