The ideas of attachment and non-attachment are things I ponder regularly. On a regular basis something comes along to show me that I am more attached to something than I should be. I'm getting a bit better at being less attached to having things or buying things, but I am only just becoming aware of how attached I am to having things turn out the way I want them to, and to having people act or think the way I want them to. I am also quite attached to having things progress along a certain time frame, in a certain order. I like some things to be 'just so' - that way, I feel comfortable and at ease.
And I like that.
Just ask Gord how out of sorts I get if something I've planned has to be changed, or if I take a wrong turn on a road somewhere and suddenly don't know where to go next. I can really come undone when stuff like that happens, particularly if I'm under more stress than usual, or I'm over-tired.
As I've mentioned before, I work in a jail. Jail is a place where people learn to get over their attachments, and fast. Personal belongings are confiscated and stored. Even things like wedding rings and personal pictures of family can be taken away and put in to storage. Putting on standard issue coveralls makes everyone look like everyone else, right down to your socks and underwear - your 'outside' identity is traded in for an 'inside' number. Your 'outside' timetable and priorities are unimportant - you are told what to do and when to do it. You are dependent on 'the system' and those who work in it for your food and water, clothes and lodging. You can be transferred from cell to cell, unit to unit, or jail to jail without notice. And you won't necessarily be able to let your family or your lawyer know before you leave.
Those who have the hardest time with all this are those who had the most 'normal' lives before coming to jail. Those who adapt the most quickly are those who, by societal standards, had nothing before they arrived: the homeless, the mentally ill. There are exceptions to this of course, but I am usually struck the most by the grace with which the latter adapt to these circumstances. They appreciate the sparse cot, the chance for a hot shower, and three meals a day. They take each thing as it comes.
I don't want to romanticize the idea of jail: it is a harsh and dangerous environment in many ways, and I would advise staying out of it! But I consider myself lucky to be able to learn from those 'inside' who have mastered the art of non-attachment.
Port Bruce: Still Alive and Well (2).
2 weeks ago