Musings

Sweltering red rock.
Watermelon slices outside prison, waiting to dissolve in the succulent juices of an April summer.
April is always a month of insights. Last April, a clear, spiritual focus found me. I always knew it was coming, but sometimes its the dazy heat of April that quietens the mind, and tells you it is time.

Suffering. Memory.
Memory, play, repeat.
I was walking, walking fast, walking calm,
Walking slow and focused- staring at the weary faces of the women waiting for me to shell out my ‘peace games’ and ‘art therapy kit’, I was reminded of my ex-partner-a gentle guy who ended up threatening to wring my neck in our last fight. A small gesture, a maddening anger. Pain bubbles as sadness mirrors- everyone is suffering.
Did I give in?
Does love resolve itself? Does time resolve pain?

As I walked on the broken cement at the women’s prison, I thought of Jimmy Baca- an ex-convict I’d met in the US many years ago when I was teaching in a prison. He had lead an extraordinary life of suffering and transformation. Spending six hears in prison, out of which, three years, in isolation (Some American prisons have isolated cells for certain types of incarcerated people)- he taught himself how to read and write. He had suffered and suffered and suffered his whole life but the man I saw and met was a man who was clear, unjaded, humble and whole. A fellow inmate convinced him to read out his poetry and slowly and steadily, he built his life back.

One can read more by googling him and his work but the most extraordinary thing about him and his work was that there wasn’t any ‘golden end’. Any rags to riches tale, any wiping out of all of his suffering with a stroke of fame. Sometimes, we think of transformation as magic. Pain becomes glory. And you’re a clean slate again.

But perhaps, acceptance is transformation itself. We often think of acceptance as giving up. But maybe, in this very quest to transform pain, we are only looking for rewards? Baca portrayed transformation as acceptance. Of self and the other. Of fear. and pain.

Can one really transform the pain of the other?

Does one just forget?

I finished my session with those beautiful women today, hungry to learn, waiting to receive, unfree, burdened by their pain. I packed my drums and said goodbye and I remembered, April is the month on insight.

prison

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