The Stoics were testing me:
Below are my thoughts from a gorgeous day this past October. I wrote this but never sent it off. There wasn’t any reason in particular I didn’t send it, I guess I wrote it more as therapy. Kind of working through the moment myself. It’s interesting reading it now, more removed from that day.
I’ve written before that the concepts of Stoic philosophy are meant to be applied. Easy to say and easy to live by when you’re up for it. What happens when I know which of these ideas to apply (in this instance, disregarding external factors) but I’m not quite in the mood?
I have been getting better at being present, being “here” so to say. I’ll admit it though, I wish I was back in Boise for Halloween weekend. The colors, the costumes, the gatherings, the friends. I’m not though. So I have to enjoy the fall colors and find solace in what I can at this place.
We spend a fair amount of time inside. I’m more growing accustomed to having rec three and a half days of the week instead of the assumed/former policy of seven. I can almost completely disregard that most inmates who have been to other minimum security prisons have never experienced controlled movements or limited rec schedules. I can let it go and live in this moment. External factors, right? Those three and a half days are better than nothing and if I have no control over it then why not keep my chin up and let it go?
Where it gets harder is the last minute changes. The decisions that we obviously have no input on, but also have no explanation for. They go against our hopes for the day. What we thought we were entitled to and what we were looking forward to. These instances still fall under the paradigm of external factors, so I have to apply the same logic.
It’s in the high 50’s today, the fall colors are at their peak, and through a 1ft by 4ft window this minimum security classified inmate can see how piercingly blue the sky is. There’s a track, a whole recreation yard about 500 feet away from this location, but no one is out on it. The sun is shining, the temperature is perfect and you can see by the leaves on the trees that there is a light breeze. When you think of a perfect fall day this is the day you think of.
I can’t go outside. I also don’t know why. This happened Thursday as well. We hear the call over the dystopian intercom that rules our movements throughout the compound. “Rec will be canceled today, there will be no rec move.” I know that’s where my thought process needs to stop. I know I have nothing to gain by taking it any further. The scary part is – I’m getting good at it. I feel like I should be more upset. I’m not. I know it would be pointless. I know it would make the day harder. I know it wouldn’t make a difference.
It’s feels odd to be so resigned, if that is the correct word. It also feels freeing. I know this won’t last forever. I mean, what expectations am I even allowed to have of an experience like this? Is it even relevant to compare this to what others have experienced at other prisons? To what the policies of other facilities were or are? Because I’m not there, I definitely don’t plan to be, and this is where I am. All of that other thinking is irrelevant. What I would prefer. What I think would be reasonable. How other institutions handle the movement of inmates. What I would be doing if I was back in Idaho.
It’s a fine line to walk. Maybe that’s what being present is, walking a fine line. Because each moment is that short. I know that in even so little as a week any frustration I harbor over anything here won’t have helped me. It would hurt me in the short-term. So I let it go and I become faster at letting it go and each incident bothers me less and less.