Friday, November 26, 2010

All Change

The life of the prisoner is an incredibly dull one. Nothing much happens. There is the institutional routine, and interspersed with that are the routines we weave for ourselves as we try to shape the existence which is least uncomfortable.

Some prisoners sink into this, allowing it to dull their hopes, their pains, their vision for their future. Every minute is corroded into sameness, a torpor. Within this certainty, within these layers of routine, a security and safety beckons. It is a false paradise.

There is a comfort in certainty that must be resisted.


  1. Dear Ben, I have great respect for what you're saying. What I would add, though, is this: you could substitute for the word 'prisoner' (in 'All Change') the words 'most people'.

    Prison must be awful, in all the ways you've described: ways those of us on the outside know little about. All the same, life on the outside is also difficult; humiliating(sometimes); lonely; anxious; insecure; frozen into routine, for so many. To be able to walk without hindrance from a room does not constitute freedom.

    Freedom must be measured not against external restraints but against those paralysed parts of the personality which trade certainty and security for hope and lightness of being.

    Nevertheless, I wish you freedom of movement - for what it's worth. Only then can you discover what real freedom is about.

  2. Dear Ben,
    I empathise with your feelings today, but I too would say it is the same on the outside, wherever you go, you take yourself with you. There is comfort in certainty,don't resist it, embrace it, enjoy it, use it to give you strength.

  3. yeah, life is for the most part dull, just take the lives of factory workers doing the same thing all day long,or near enough and this is productivity! The economy, the bedrock of society, no wonder we all get bored, isolated, lonely, anxious etc.

    I read a brilliant book about a factory worker in the US called "Rivethead", it was about how he coped with boring work all day long, he would fantasize as he worked until one day he completely lost it, he lost his sanity and had to leave his job and start a new life, disabled.

    It is a serious problem, boredom and dullness for many of us, but try not to get depressed, everything passes, everything changes, and good things do come along eventually.

    Sophie J