There was a day, some time back, when I had a string of guys in my office at the prison. All of them were struggling with being in prison, the length of their sentences, the time they hadn’t heard from family, the sameness of the routine. By the time the seventh one had come in, I was ready to suggest a support group.
Instead, I made the same suggestion to each: When it’s time for yard, go out and lay down in the grass and look up.
The clouds were particularly wonderful that day, scudding across the sky and turning themselves into shapes begging to be named.
At prison, when you’re walking around, the concrete and the fences are always part of the picture. The trees, although there are many, are far beyond the fences. (“I haven’t hugged a tree in six years,” one of the men wailed.) There’s always a reminder that you’re locked up and that fact isn’t going to change any time soon.
Flat on your back, looking at the clouds, there is no concertina wire to be seen. The sky can look like the ocean and you can sail away on the clouds.
I wondered later if I might have caused some trouble, if a group of guys had taken my advice and just laid down in the expanse of grass and looked up–would someone take that as behavior needing discipline?
I noticed as the weather got warmer there were more guys basking in the sun during yard. Some of them were watching the clouds.
What do you do when your soul needs a stretch?