I’ve always straddled fences. Try to find that in-between. Objective. Sure I’m knee jerk & very subjective about certain topics, situations, circumstances. Here I’m torn. Believe it or not there are a few alright cops (sure there’s more – I mean from my experiences) & a few alright inmates (sure there’s more). But there is not a damn thing I can do but be who I am & consider everything possible. As a teenager I was introduced to a Trappast Monastery in Dubuque Iowa. At first I’d spend a few hours then a weekend or two. Then for a moment or two, consider signing on. But I didn’t believe it was in the stars. Well I met an incredible monk – Father Mathias. Probably late – mid 40s, very laid back & was quite hip. Loved Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), photography and Thomas Merton. I believe we talked about Ralph Eugene Meatyard who I think is one of America’s treasures: http://www.eastman.org/ne/str085/htmlsrc8/index.html
Amazing total southern gothic. Think I tripped out. Sally Mann – Emmit Gowin. Anywho, Father Mathias & I would wander fields, roads, the monastery. He taught me one – Aware – How to see & be in “that – this moment”. He believed we should see 180˚ & possibly 360˚.
We’d walk – he’d click camera, say “John, close your eyes. What color is my shirt?” Totally unexpected. Totally unreal for me. he adored Merton – Thoreau – the true monks. We’d eat huge cookies.Talked of Christ – the song Father & Son. Needless to say, my mind was blown. I was reading Kerouac, Bukowski, Miller – listening to the Plastic Ono Band, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed. Growing up in the middle of America, Farmtown USA. Drugs and alcohol fueled these desires. But like all young men of the early 70’s I was a wanderlust. Couldn’t/didn’t want to be tied down. You know there is barely a day that goes by that I don’t think of Father Mathias. Our walk, talks, sermon of the country. Right out of the W.C.W. New Mellery. Means honey. In the land of milk & honey.
I digress. They say don’t judge a man ‘til you walk in his boots. Makes sense. Very concrete. A beautiful image. Well, I have a great buddy, Jacob. We could write a book. Well things turned a horrible corner & he stepped away – almost out of my life. Well he left behind these great brown work boots – solid lumberjack, hitch hike across the country THUD! Boots. I wear 10 ½. These were smaller 9 ½? Well I was very angry, hurt, confused. Spinning. And I’d pass those damn boots for weeks. (He left them behind and I am not too organized). I’d think those are some nice ass boots – but too small. Well don’t judge a man…passed thru my head - ticker tape like. Yeah, so true. Well I sat down and popped those fuckers on. No too bad. Kind of tight. No room to breathe. I wonder what Jacob’s doing? So I wore them that day. Celebrated. When I took them off people offered “get them wet”, “stretch them out”. Nope. That’s cheating. Needless to say, I wore those boots. I wore the hell out of those boots. When the pain of smashing those blistered toes against that almost unyielding leather I’d actually think of Jacob. His life, his dreams, realizing he’s probably just as angry, hurt, confused & spinning. Some of my friends understood. Some gave no opinion. But those months of wearing those boots taught me as much about myself as it did Jacob. And this is the truth – When I re-broke those boots in, I was done with them.
My point is this new life for me poses problems, mysteries, joy, sadness. I have to drag this huge trunk of John in here. I need to understand/comprehend as much as this mind/body/soul will allow. By my nature I dislike & hate cops. I also mistrust cons. But one by one in each & every relationship I come to new, fresh conclusions. Yes, some of the behavior in here shocks me. Dismays me. Truly bothers me. So I stop. Find my ground and my mind- kaleidoscope like – spins & reminds – “John, what color is my shirt?” “What kind of flower is that?” “John, how could you hurt me? Abandon me?”
What truly is our/the/a purpose for this existence & I remain silent. Either accept or deny. My palms open. My patience restored. My world alive. Prison truly another state of mind. My mantras. My prayers. My hope & love.