The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the day “January 15, 2018”

Decisions? Decisions! Decisions.

NEW!

Cel

I grew up in a small farming town with an older sister and two younger brothers.  My sister and I could not have been more different.  She was everything I was not but wished I could be.  She took risks and did as she pleased, while I was afraid of disappointing others. She was outgoing and made friends easily, while I tended to trust only those I’d known all my life.

She left home as soon as she was old enough and headed to a big international city, where she found rewarding work and moved a large circle of interesting friends.  She had many admirers, and eventually married a successful man who loved her and treated her well. They traveled extensively and saw the most exotic corners of the world.  They had two children — a niece and a nephew — whom I only saw perhaps once a decade.

I stayed put, rarely venturing more than half a day’s journey from home. I envied her life, but I knew I could never follow in her path.  My brothers, rather than envy her, resented her for leaving them with a heavier load.   They were happy to remain in our town; content with their lives. The difference between my brothers and me was that while I despised myself for my fears, they either did not have any or they pushed them down so thoroughly or disguised them to themselves, they were not aware of them.

There are many kinds of fear in the world, but I suffered from a particular brand of cowardice that permeates small towns. I was afraid of making a mistake with my life; of doing something unfortunate which could not be undone, so I let others make choices for me.  Before I committed to a suitor, I needed my family’s approval. I was afraid to venture into the unknown lest what I believed to be right be proven wrong.  I hesitated to make my own moral decisions for fear I’d end up in Hell, and so I followed the rules of the church.

In a small, closed community, politics is little more than institutionalized gossip, power struggles among the powerless, and petty vengeance. Those who are willing to speak most loudly are those who seize control. And so it was in our town.  No one attempted to topple the pecking order; it was simply accepted as the natural way of things. Our brand of cowardice preferred a strong, confident person telling us what was right and wrong, even if it wasn’t.

Gossip was a necessary evil which kept us obedient. The worry that our deepest personal secrets might be publicly revealed,  perhaps discussed at a church social or whispered about in the beauty salon as if we were a character in a tawdry novel, was enough to keep most of us on the straight and narrow.

Those who did not fear change, who were willing to speak truth to power, who embraced the unknown, who thrived on risk,  quickly came to the conclusion that if they didn’t leave, they would wither and die.  They, like my sister, made their escape and rarely returned.

I envied my sister for breaking away; for being brave enough to create her own version of happiness while I remained riveted to my unchallenged, uneventful life.

I did not have much trouble or sadness or conflict so I assumed I was happy. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.  I nurtured my children, obeyed my husband, did the requisite charity work, faithfully attended church.  Others made my decisions for me.

Because of all this, I missed many opportunities.

 

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Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

The Innocent Prisoner

First published June 14, 2014

prison Denver-DUI-Lawyers1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ott

First let me say, I was innocent and I never stopped saying so until the very end. Of course, nobody believed me. Eventually, not even myself. That’s just the way it was. They weren’t going to take me at my word. I was hardly the only one proclaiming innocence in that place! Some of the men in there had worked so hard to convince others of their blamelessness, they eventually believed it themselves. I guess it was the only way they could come to terms with what they’d done.

But I had done nothing wrong. At least not anything worthy of a life (and death) in prison.

I don’t even know if I was wrongly identified or if the police and prosecutors were too lazy or overwhelmed to bother looking for the real criminal. And who was I to them, anyway? If I hadn’t done that particular crime, surely I had done another for which I had not been caught. And if I hadn’t done another, certainly, eventually I would. Any which way they looked at it, they were doing society a favor.

I was put in too young, too poor, too stupid to even know what kind of life I’d missed. Maybe they were right. Maybe, eventually, if left on my own, I would have committed a crime to land me in jail. It’s not as if I had a lot of options.

So that was my life. Endless petty dramas. Insane acts of violence. Cruelty for the pure pleasure of it. Vengeance and spite. Tiny hopes, inevitably shattered. Lessons no man should have to learn.

After a while, even though I still proclaimed my innocence, I forgot to care that I’d been wrongly imprisoned. Prison was the only world I knew. I hadn’t functioned very well outside before I was arrested, but I was savvy enough to know there was no way I could function out there after so many years behind bars.   I had no clue how to live in freedom. We all talked tough about what we would do on the outside, what we eat, who we would fuck, how great our lives would be if and when we ever got out. But guys like me? We were more scared of being released than of dying in jail.  We just didn’t know the territory out there.

Eventually, unlike the others who self-denied their own guilt, I began to self-deny my own innocence. All the detailed stories they told at my trial; the way they said I’d done it; hell, maybe I really had. I could barely remember anymore what was true and what wasn’t. Maybe I was just like those other guys who had absolutely done the crime, and had absolutely convinced themselves they hadn’t.   Maybe my memory was playing tricks on me.

But anyway, what did it matter? After a while, you just abandon any hope of justice and just accept injustice as your lot.   I suppose it’s one of the lessons we all have to learn eventually, but there sure seems to be a lot of people learning it all at the same time, living that same pain over and over.

Maybe we need to experience it again and again because each time around, we miss the fundamental lesson. Maybe we have to experience it for a thousand lifetimes before we understand that injustice is a basic element of the human condition. And maybe, only then, in absolute irony, we will no longer need to suffer any more lifetimes of injustice.

 

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Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

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