Just outside the window of my cell, there is a local highway. It’s a trip to stand there and watch vehicles of all sizes fly by, their drivers on all sorts of missions: parents going to see their son one last time before he leaves for war, men taking their pregnant girlfriends to the hospital to give birth, families embarking on their first vacation, spouses heading home to end their loveless marriages; all kinds of important and life-changing events. Of course, they could all just be on their way to pick up a six-pack and an Adam Sandler movie.
Ultimately, watching these possible adventures doesn’t so much entertain me as remind me that I’m powerless – but not because I’m unable to find out what any of these people are actually up to. Rather because I’m unable to join the stream of travelers to take my own trip. And, as anyone who’s done time knows, powelessness is the worst part.
I have calmed down considerably over the course of my bit. I used to be highly argumentative, hateful of the general public, and determinedly vengeful. I am solidly the opposite of all that now. Yet, I get supremely frustrated when friends and family take what I perceive as way too long to do something that they said they’d do. It feels like being locked out of my house as I watch a gang of people walk around breaking and peeing on my stuff and eating my food while smiling and laughing at me through the window the entire time.
But what can I do. I can’t force them to care or act faster. Neither can I yell or curse at them as I often feel like doing (well, I could, but what would that accomplish). My only option is patience and acceptance, patience and acceptance, patience and acceptance……
My character is built around action. When I set out to do something, I go hard; and when others need something, I am about as reliable as a check from Oprah. Furthermore, I am and will likely always be clearly uncomfortable asking others for favors, especially when I’m largely unable to return them. So, it severely sucks having to depend on others for most everything, and the waiting is torture. But no one owes me anything; I put myself here.
I sincerely am grateful for any assistance I receive–many inmates don’t have anyone to help them. Nevertheless, I will surely carry this frustration, this anger with me through the front gates when I’m released and until I die. But not as an emotion. I will hold onto it as a lesson. I will never forget the pain that prison has taught me, that it’s a luxury to know, if all else fails, I can take care of things myself.