It is all the same, is it not? The words of the old folk song come to mind, “De Midnight Special“: “Well, you wake up in the morning’, you hear the ding-dong ring, you go over to the table, You see the same damn thing.” It is one of the songs about being in prison, longing for the sense of freedom that comes into an imprisoned heart as the Midnight Special thunders past, its lights coming through barred prison windows, as described by John and Alan Lomax in their book, Folk Song U.S.A., The New American Library, 1966, p. 371.
I woke up with flashes of scenes from the first twelve episodes of “Orange, the New Black” on my mind. I stayed up all night Friday the 13th, watching episode after episode on Net Flix. I was at a friend’s apartment in town, cat-sitting, while she went out of town. I fled my own place the day before, after a particularly toxic exchange with my only son who stopped in to sleep overnight, on his way back from a week of visiting in Austin. I admit I have not been in the best “place,” for weeks now, and it is because I feel like I am in prison. My son lambasted me, as to how I seem to make my circumstances the fault of everyone else, this criticism being highly ironic, coming from him. It felt abusive, him speaking to me in this manner (although, life just feels like on-going abuse, except for moments of respite experienced through shared laughter, communion, and escape via fantasy and fiction). As I watched the first several episodes of “Orange, the New Black,” I cringed at how atrocious it must be to find oneself in prison. As I went on watching this series through the night, I had the sense that, in my own case, I am already in prison and that it would not matter, one way or the other were I actually inside a prison. I live there already, a self-created prison. My challenge is to survive and live through freeing myself, if at all possible. Sometimes this seems like a farcical idea, and how does it matter?
Yesterday, as I drove home, the sky looked unreal to me, much like the background set of a stage production. The greenery of the landscape, lush and vibrant, struck me also as unreal. Yet, I could hear birdsongs through the open car window, despite the speed at which I traveled. These sounds kept me grounded as I mused on how unreal my life and everything else seems. Now, as I glance out of my upstairs window, with many bird sounds falling on my ear, I see the dense overgrowth of foliage, weeds, and tick-residing trees’ leaves, aware that the garden I planted weeks back is in need of weeding. The sky is grey, dark, threatening rain. The air coming through my open windows is cool and damp. I cannot remember from one summer to the next how the weather goes, although it seems as though this year, the spring is rainy and cool. In a week, on the summer solstice, it may abruptly change to being extremely hot, humid, and eventually, very dry. This morning’s cool breeze calls me to go pull weeds, to find release from this mind static, to rediscover the freedom I actually know, unreal or not.
My dog barks outside the front door, back from his morning run. He brings me back into this present moment; all is changed, yet still the same.