Crazy Life: Mind of the Prisoner

To make it sound fancy, I suppose, I would call it the mens de captivus, meaning “the mind of the prisoner.” This is something ~ one powerful trait ~ I noticed while in the Samson Group Home. To expand on this definition, mens de captivus means “the whole mentality (perspective, world view) of the individual (almost) completely cloistered within a relatively small, insular community.” 

Many of the fine people with whom I lived displayed a mens de captivus at least to some degree ~ that is, their whole world essentially consisted of the “cloister,” or group home. Within this there were certain activities and relationships that proved very important, which are not (perhaps) nearly so important on the “outside.” Buying and selling cigarettes, for example, while technically not allowed, was a daily occurrence.

The relationships with mental health technicians (MHTs), therapists, and the group home director proved in many ways to be more fundamental than their relationship(s) to family and friends. I suppose this was due to the immediacy and constancy of those relationships. Of course, their/our relationships with one another were very important, and this all became at least somewhat dominant in group home life.

Consequently, life apart from this local, confined community ended up seeming rather foreign and, perhaps, frightening. While many, if not most, of the groups sessions were on some basic life skill (BLS), you could look around the room and see that some consumers were quite obviously not paying any attention, while still others (however few) were even falling asleep! (Granted, these sessions could be boring, but still…)

One fellow resident hit the nail on the head when she said, “It’s really sad. It’s heartbreaking… These people look so defeated. It’ s like they’ve just given up, like they have no hope!” True, and the emptying of any hope for life beyond the group home community was filled with a mens de captivus, that is, an entire life-perspective and feeling grown from within the “cloister.”

And this is really where I believe the Church, and other religious institutions (i.e. temple, mosque, synagogue, etc.), can really make a palpable difference. If good church folk can not only come by to visit, but somehow make arrangements to help integrate group home residents (or “consumers,” as they are called) into the larger, outside community, it would make a world of difference.

Well, this would be an act of connection beyond the four walls of the group home. I believe that it would at least disrupt the mens de captivus, which would be fundamentally positive. The mens de captivus certainly needs to be disrupted! Resident/consumers are ultimately not helped by being confined so much of their time within a mentally/emotionally/psychologically disabled “cloister.”

I remember very well getting up in the morning just in time for breakfast, followed by an early morning shower, followed by morning meds and then day treatment. We ate lunch at day treatment, and afterwards I would feed the birds (and squirrels, racoons, and opossums) and the fish in our backyard pond. After this, I sometimes laid down for an half-hour nap, but then I almost always went ahead and did my chore.

Interspersed throughout my day were, of course, requests to buy or bum something. (This is just part of the local, cloistered, group home life.) And, too, we shared many items and even cut (and sometimes styled) each others hair. Living this more or less complete life, largely sectioned off from the rest of humanity, it became easy ~ too easy, really ~ to forget what it was like to live an “ordinary life” in society-at-large.

thGRVRKD0NPart of my own hope and dream now is to do something to alleviate this mens de captivus, opening the prison door, so to speak, gently leading individuals back out into the verdant fields of promising life in the wide world we inhabit. Yes, it can, and often is, frightening; then again, true freedom (authentic liberty) is scary if for no other reason than the fact that the immediate future always stands open to innumerable possibilities with very few guarantees. Is it worth it, though? Yes! Most assuredly!

For previous installments in the ‘Crazy Life’ series, see…

Crazy Life: Hanging in the Balance

Crazy Life: Meeting the Mystery of God

Crazy Life: Humiliating the Already-Humbled

Crazy Life: A Little Less Crazy? But Still Guilty

Crazy Life: Dreams and Dreams Again

Crazy Life: In Praise of MHTs

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Hello, I Know It’s Late…

When the clock chime told me the time I heard your name,
And I hate to call so late, but understand I had no choice;
I just had to hear your voice, however low, to say ‘hello;’
You see, it’s lonely here and I’d like to be there with you.
Please, can you understand my hand shook as I took the book
To look up your number, even though it was burned on my
Over-churned heart. . . Yes, dear, I know it’s late but fate
Has dealt me a terrible blow, and the sea of snow outside
Feels so bitter cold even in here where I am ~ the coldest
Cold is the cold of being alone ~ and the frost on windows
Has cost me my last tear; can you hear me? Oh, please don’t
Be upset but pity me; in this vast city I just needed to hear
One lovely voice, so I picked up the phone to dial my own trial,
Chancing no answer, but . . . ‘Hello,’ you so kindly spoke,
Knowing it was me, showing compassion; ‘how are you doing
My dear old friend?’ Ah, better now, for somehow hearing you
So clear and true steers my heart aright and renews my spirit.
Oh, I know it’s late, but I just had to hear your sweet voice. . .
You understand, I had no choice but to hear your voice. . .
No choice . . . so, ‘hello, my love; how are you, too?’


Note: Originally published in February 2016, now being republished for the enjoyment of new reader-followers. Blessings to one and all!  

Ode to Love (Recast)

Love can be so cruel, so unkind, and oh-so blind;
Enough to make the fool drool, but the wise one
Sees the forest beyond the trees and honey bees;
Love can be like only bare and stone-cold bones,
Or it can be as one small flower growing in power;
And love can be like fine wine or be high and dry;
Love is free and wild, and won’t be tame and mild;
Love is a child, ever growing into showing wisdom,
Free yet to be whatever the world around shall see;
Never contained, hardly ever restrained, and not
To be disdained, for love is love as it is, and love
Comes from Love from Above…
Yes, it can bring pleasure like an exquisite treasure
Or it can bring pain with no gain and seem insane;
Ah! is it worth the while? But what is life without
Love except bland with no real demand? This love
In all its complexity sells itself to the soul and
Then compels, propels to great heights with might!
Love is and shall be … for you, everyone, and me…
For love defines our life as it is and ever shall be …


Note: Previously published in April 2016

On the Edge of Reality

Like night and day, no one can say which way you’ll turn;
To the right or left, jump in the light or run into the night,
Who knows where you’ll show yourself next and when,
And then how high will you fly? Or will ya crash and burn
At the very next turn as you churn inside and never learn?
You show an immense proclivity to levity and flippancy
With no dependency on discernment or shrewd selectivity
In the gravity of genuine life lived with some perspicacity;
You’re rather like the wind that sweeps round every bend,
Sending the debris of people tumbling this way and that
At your appearance through the day without adherence
To respectability, propriety or any suitability to decency;
Like dark and light twirling and swirling in the one vortex
Of your soul, no one knows whether you’ll shine or recline
In the shadows where you’ll pine for love too high to grasp
As you gasp for the fair air of purity in some serenity of life,
But you’re prancing along in fantasy,
Dancing on the very edge of reality…
On the edge of reality


Note: First published August 2016

Obsession

Tunnel vision obsession, fixation on your prey,
You hunt by day and night, in dark and light
To capture like an expert trapper your quarry,
And you can see nothing else, to left or right;
You have your target in sight as it takes flight,
And your mind is on nothing else but to bind
Your victim, however that may be; this is key
To your present situation: stanch infatuation,
And you’ll not be satisfied till you’re gratified
With having what you want, and it taunts you;
Like a frenzied train running thru your brain
Nothing else matters even as life batters you
On all sides; there is nothing else but this one;
And this is finally your only real possession:
Obsession

Just Sucking Oxygen

He’s made his excursion and enough exertion for the day;
Yeah, you can bet he broke a sweat, so now he’s here to stay;
After one hour of exercise at the gym, it’s time to hit the shower,
Then he’ll put on his nighty-tighties and t-shirt, though it’s mid-day,
Plop down to play the T.V. while consuming colas and chocolate granolas;
After awhile he’ll whine and grump at his fine, hard working wife
Because he’s bored and needs to score a few points in argument
To augment his rather bland existence in which he insists to persist…
And really, Mother Earth must practically taste the waste of oxygen!
(Did I just say that?) But couldn’t our fair planet better use the air?
(Did I just ask that, too? Miserere mei, Deus!)