Escape from the Imaginary Gulag

Monkey-faced orchid Dracula Simia
Monkey-faced orchid
Dracula Simia

Aren’t our imaginations wonderful things? To travel through space and time in our own imagination, to see the beauty in a raindrop clinging to a leaf in early spring, to feel the cold mist on our face kicked up by a deep forest waterfall-just by looking at a picture.

But our imagination is a double-edged sword, isn’t it? We can imagine future cataclysms, tragic accidents and the end of the world-just by reading a news story while sitting safely in our own living rooms.

I once taught at a prison and one morning I wrote on the blackboard: How to Escape from Prison. My students were supposed to stay in their seats, but to save my foolish hide, a student jumped up and erased it. “They have no sense of humor about that subject around here,” he told me. My escape plan was for them to go to the library and get a book.

They took me up on my escape plan and I remember one guy who was very excited about Melville’s Moby Dick. Then they started writing and sharing their own stories. I remember Paul’s about ten native women doing the electric slide.





I’ve been fighting self-pity for many months, ever since I was banned from walking in the woods, which I considered my only luxury in life. Self-pity is an ugly and destructive thing, that’s why we should fight it. Still, I’ve been sad because I feel hemmed-in, imprisoned. Today I decided to take my own advice and focus on what I still have instead of what I lost.

I still have a teeny garden spot. The challenge is to find something amazing and beautiful in a 10 X 25 foot rectangle of sand on the edge of a swamp. I just went outside to do so and found iridescent dragonflies stationed on top of the tomato stakes. I said to “Hi” to one and he nodded back at me.

Off to a good start.

Hi !
Hi !

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