790 Days - Part Ten - The growing edge


Isabelle S.

As this is my second to last blog post, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this last year in blog-writing has passed. I’ve thought about the changes in myself, in what I’ve written about, and in my perception of my own space in society. And although I haven’t reached any conclusions by any means, I have realized that this has been one hell of an extraordinary adventure. I’ve had all sorts of means come test my boundaries, and although troublesome at the time, they really blossomed into opportunities to get to know myself.

I was reading an issue of Harper’s the other day, and in their miscellaneous readings section they had published a short letter-to-the-editor written by Oscar Wilde in the late nineteenth century. And, even more apropos, it was his direct commentary on England’s prison system at the time, from his experience serving two years incarceration for “sexual indecency” - or what we might now know of as homosexuality.

I realize there will always be injustice in the world, which seems a sad, but also liberating truth to bear. Although I imagine conditions must have been harsher at the time, Wilde’s commentary was so strikingly similar to what I saw, and my own identification with incarceration that it left both a feeling of vindication, and a little residue of hollowness.

As long as systems remain what they are - which is to say, human pieces of machinery - there will be people subjugated by them. I don’t know if this is what matters so much as it is learning how to live through them, and despite them. I’m no idealist about systems change. but I do think we can become more aware of the world we live in, because, the way I see it, each one of us has had a part in shaping it, most likely unconsciously.

I’ve lived with enough guilt in my life to know better, by now. I’ve done some pretty harmful things, and I’ve been hurt in some pretty brutal ways. But neither of those matters so much to me anymore. I’ve had to make my amends where possible, and I’ve had to take accountability in order to be able to make that last claim. But regardless, in looking back at each statement I’ve made, and each subject I’ve thought important, what I see is my own future in the making.

And that is the most liberating truth I could ask for.

The writer underwent two years at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon, convicted for charges directly related to an active drug addiction.