Reintegration Post-Incarceration. Try A Little Mindfulness.

My limited knowledge of prison comes from MSNBC documentaries and firsthand accounts from people I know who have been locked up. From what I understand, here’s what happens. You’re locked up in a tiny room for hours at a time, only being granted the privilege of leaving your cell for food, hygiene needs, and forced recreation (Vietnam-style flashbacks of my stint in public education spring to mind, but I digress). This mundane cycle repeats until you’ve served your time. And then you’re unleashed back into the wild. Any rehabilitation received is minimal at best. The world around you has moved on and evolved without your consent. A lot has happened since you’ve been away and you’re aware of virtually none of it.

I recently grabbed a drink with a few of my coworkers after a particularly long arduous shift. Upon receiving the invitation I scoffed at the idea. Familiar with being a shut in, the thought of cracking open my shell and sitting vulnerable terrifies me, even if it could mean having a good time. Social situations feel more like an interrogation with a harden FBI agent one week from retirement & nothing left to lose, than a leisurely way to pass the time. But I had planned on getting a beer when I got off anyway & at least now I had an excuse.

So the four of us are sitting around the table. 2 of them pull out their tablets, realize that they both play the same extraordinarily convoluted game downloaded for free in an app store, and engage in an in depth discussion about guild strategies & enemy disadvantages that made as much sense to me as the technobabble spouted off in every episode of Star Trek. Which left me and the other coworker sitting & staring at one another, unsure of what exactly to say now forced to make conversation due to circumstance.

At once she goes through a series of subjects in minutes. Listing off her favorite apps from her phone, sports teams, books recently read, etc. None of which I was familiar with. She was a spaceship thrusting in an infinite number of directions hoping to land on something. I was nodding my head and wondering where the hell the waitress was with my pint of draft ale.

I’ve been rotting in a cerebral jailhouse for as long as I can remember & it hasn’t been until recently that I realized the extent of my sentence and started sending off appeals for an early release. Impatient from slow progress and waiting for serotonin levels to rise and chemical synapses to connect with this & that, I staged a break out. Don’t really know how long I’ve been away. But things are pretty unfamiliar and a tad bit confusing.

The waitress arrives with our drinks. I indulge. About an hour goes by in a series of jokes, quips, transient conversations, and whatnot. The night ends with all of us walking out of the bar together and laughing heartily.

During the drive home, Pink comes on the radio asking how to make herself feel this good sober.




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