Monday, July 17, 2017

Marooned and toasted cheese


That’s how I feel right now. Marooned. Ironic for a Ben Gunn….

For much of my time in prison I had the luxury of a stable, foundational set of ideas and values. In times of difficulty, uncertainty, I could withdraw back to these and be slightly assured that I was at least attempting to move through time with some coherent direction. 

It baffles many that my chosen direction wasn’t release. For much of my sentence, release was not the goal at the top of my list. That place was occupied by “try to do the right thing”. This was a complicated reaction to my own crime, and the reality I was living in an institution resting on naked State violence. That mishmash of morality, history, politics and daily life would take a lifetime to explain; but the end result was, doing what I perceived to be “the right thing” came before pragmatic steps towards release.

This didn’t perturb me, and I hadn’t accepted never being released. I wasn’t indifferent to freedom, only that “the right thing” came first, release came second. In my forties, then, the future appeared to take shape. To complete my PhD. To then take its concepts and apply them to prison. To make the prisoners union – the AOP – an actual living body and not a legal sideline. Then to potter about and probably fall off my perch somewhere before I was sixty. There is also my cancer weaving its thread through this potential future, adding a wrinkle. 

So I knew what I was doing. I knew where I was heading. And I knew what values and ideas drove me forwards. As I now appreciate, this made me an exceptionally fortunate person. The human condition more frequently suggests blind stumbling through the days. Having a coherent structure, internally and externally, gave me purpose and strength.

And then I fell in love. That changes everything. And I knew that I would have to put gaining release at the top of my list of priorities. This made manoeuvring through daily prison life far more difficult than it had been. My broad approach had been so simple – If I saw power, then I would resist it. Regardless of the cost on my time to release. 

With gaining release as the overriding priority in my new relationship, this lodestone was gone. I had no reference points, the moral and intellectual structure that had sustained me for nearly three decades was of no use. This made prison far more distressing for me. I knew I was making deliberate efforts to walk away from all that I had been working for for so many years. To rush to release was, to me, a decision to also rush away from making a mark, to give meaning to all of those years.

My relationship became the lodestone that guided my new approach. The prison service barely noticed that I was growling slightly less frequently, leaving me grinding my teeth. Only now, years later, do I really appreciate how profound a shift this was. I had took a deliberate decision to abandon everything that had informed my life, to abandon all I was trying to achieve.
Obviously, my relationship was that important. It offered a different future to the one I was facing. And it was a future I couldn’t particularly understand, only approach with hope. Because I sure as hell didn’t have experience to guide me. We both blindly assumed that I was able to build and maintain a long term relationship…an untested proposition. 

I re-entered the World, then, in a condition of hope but pretty complete uncertainty. I had no idea how I would deal with actually living with someone else, sharing a home, a bed, a sofa…a life. I left a path of confidence and certainty and jumped blindly over a cliff.

Here we are, five years onwards, and I sit amongst the wreckage of my relationship. And have no doubt, this has been the result of my inabilities, my selfishness, my flaws. The relationship was the ship in which I was exploring life, the vessel that would carry me forward.

Having pressed the self-destruct button, I swam to the nearest rock and there I sit. This was not the plan. This is not where life should find me. I walked away from a constructive path and now find myself with nothing.

Such, I gather, is life. The emotional pillar at the centre of my being has crumbled. I find this harder to deal with because I realise that my relationship was more important than anything else, and so as I failed to build a good relationship the effort I was making diverted my attention from the rest of life.

Prison can be monastic. It flows at its own rhythm. It is a limited existence, sometimes a meagre one. In that strange environment I could vanish into Solitary and take the time out to muse on my situation and its potential. It was in that environment that I took a lengthy moral and intellectual tour in order to distil my “operating principles” of “doing the right thing” and “resist abuses of power”. And these principles gave me a certainty and solidity in the face of an otherwise overwhelmingly oppressive institution.

These parameters made sense in prison. I had killed someone; trying to do “the right thing” seems a bit of a moral imperative, the least I could do. And in an institution built on violence, “resisting abuses of power” was an imperative. These things made sense…in prison.

On release, I was too busy to reflect. Five years on and I still haven’t unpacked my prison paperwork. Only now, as rubble from my exploded relationship rains down, have I  been compelled to reflect. And realise I am bereft on every level. I have been exploring this world of freedom without the compass, the values, that guided my prison life.

I don’t know where I am going. Or why. And unlike in prison, Life out here doesn’t pause to allow me time to muse. I am told that this is all quite normal, the human condition. Perhaps I was very fortunate to have an idea of what the hell I was doing in life for so long. That doesn’t help me in this moment. I literally don’t know what I am doing here in freedom, what I should do, what I can do, and most importantly for me – why and to what end.


15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very well written, Ben! I've got a suggestion if you fancy a walk sometime!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Take some time out. Go stare at the sky, a river, mountains, anything. Your path will become clear. And you can do the "right thing" with those around you. Baby steps. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been following you for some years Ben , have so appreciated your candour. Sad that your relationship didn't work out - believe me- the rest of us find it hard too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. After 9 years in marriage with my hubby with 3 kids, my husband started going out with other ladies and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatened to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other ladies, I was totally devastated and confused until an old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet called DR. Okojie who help people with their relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contacted him, he helped me cast a love spell on my husband and within 24hours my husband came back to me and started apologizing, now he has stopped going out with ladies and he is with me for good and for real. Contact this great spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem and all kinds of problem you find difficult to resolve and he will put a lasting solution to it. You can also contact him if you are unable to bear children. Here is his email drokojiespellhome6@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds like you are in a dark place. Live life to the full whilst you still can as you never know what waits around the corner. Time waits for no man and every day is precious.

    Good luck to you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello everyone.. My name is "Linda Oscar Lestochi" I was married for 8years with William. things started getting ugly and we had fights and arguments almost every time. it got worse at a point that he filed for divorce. I tried my best to make him change his mind & stay with me. But he moved out of the house and still went ahead to file for the divorce. I pleaded and tried everything but still nothing worked. The breakthrough came when a friend introduced me to this wonderful, great spell caster who eventually helped me out. I have never been a fan of things like this but just decided to try reluctantly cause I was desperate and left with no choice. He did special prayers and used roots and herbs. Within 4 days he called me and was sorry for all the emotional trauma he had cost me, he moved back to the house and we continue to live happily. what a wonderful miracle dr. Umagbai did for me and my family. I have introduced him to a lot of couples with problems across the world and they have had good news. I strongly believe someone out there need's his help.(dr.umagbaisolutionhome@gmail.com) so make extra effort to save your marriage/relationship,you can also contant him if you have any problems..
    1. Bring your husband back
    2. Bring your wife back
    3. Bring your boyfriend back
    4. Bring your girlfriend back
    5. Win lottery
    6. Promotion in offices
    7. Help you to become pregnant,if you looking for the fruit of the womb
    8. Complete cure of any kind of sickness
    9. Marriage commitment...
    His web site:(http://dr.umagbaisolutiontemple1.wix.com/dr.umagbaisolutionhome)

    ReplyDelete
  8. The best platform of entertainment where you can watch Indian Dramas, Pakistani Dramas, Video Songs and Funny Videos
    funskorner.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am bold enough among many others to state that there is now a potent cure to this sickness but many are unaware of it. I discovered that I was infected with the virus 3 months ago, after a medical check-up. My doctor told me and I was shocked, confused and felt like my world has crumbled. I was dying slowly due to the announcement of my medical practitioner but he assured me that I could leave a normal life if I took my medications (as there was no medically known cure to Herpes). I went from churches to churches but soon found that my case needed urgent attention as I was growing lean due to fear of dying anytime soon. In a bid to look for a lasting solution to my predicament, I sought for solutions from the herbal world. I went online and searched for every powerful trado-medical practitioner that I could severe, cos I heard that the African Herbs had a cure to the Herpes syndrome. It was after a little time searching the web that I came across one Dr Itua(A powerful African Herbal Doctor), who offered to help me at a monetary fee. I had to comply as this was my final bus-stop to receiving a perfect healing. My last resolve was to take my life by myself, should this plan fail. At last it worked out well. He gave me some steps to follow and I meticulously carried out all his instructions. Last month, to be precise, I went back to the hospital to conduct another test and to my amazement, the results showed that negative,Dr Itua Can As Well Cure The Following Desease…Cancer,Hiv,Herpes, Hepatitis B,Liver Inflammatory,Diabetis,Fribroid,Get Your Ex Back, You can free yourself of this Herpes virus by consulting this great African Herbal Doctor via this e-mail: drituaherbalcenter@gmail.com or call and whatsapp him on +2348149277967 He will help you and his herb medication is sure. he has the cure on all disease .You can talk to me on INSTAGRAM..tashamoore219....

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm Pregnant at 47 after reunion love spell -My marriage was falling almost dead due to a bit argument, depression, feelingless and numbed attitudes of my Hubby, he preferred being silent so as to hurt me. -Although there’re days he has been fine and good to me, we cook, eat and do things together, but we still like stepping on a dozen of eggs, we were not at ease as like before when our marriage was still in an excellent shape. Most times after saying some hurtful words to me like; I cannot give him a child anymore, He says sorry and apologize cos he knows that he’s acting passive, numbed and feelingless to me and frustration hits him back again and again. -I truly love my Hubby and feels guilty of our misfortune, I have always wanted to trace back my wrongs and make some amendments so we can live as a happy family with our children by our side. I was tired of seeing him hurt inside. -He eventually served me with a divorce letter after 18 years of our blessed marriage. His reason was that we could never work things out together again, I couldn’t bear his children, shutting him off to be involved in my life and affairs, he feels numbed when he thinks of those circumstances. -I was deeply hurt before consulting Dr. ODUMA , even though I tried day by day to adjust to the woman of his choice but he didn’t see my efforts. -At the end, I was put in a better position with my Hubby by Dr. itua love spell via his email odumaspelltemple0@gmail.com.And I’m 7 months pregnant already at 47. It’s a magical work of Dr. ODUMA that restored our dream.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the informative article. This is one of the best resources I have found in quite some time.Nicely written and great info. I really cannot thank you enough for sharing.

    Restaurant in OMR
    Apartments in OMR
    Villas in OMR
    Resorts in OMR

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for the informative article. This is one of the best resources I have found in quite some time. Nicely written and great info. I really cannot thank you enough for sharing.

    herbalife in chennai
    weight loss in chennai
    weightgain in chennai
    wellnesscentre in chennai

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for sharing this information with us. It's very helpful for us.

    http://www.trendymobiles.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete