Letters From the Eastside – Letter Seventeen

Dear Mother Directional,

When there’s no more reasons to argue or defend yourself, then there’s no more reasons to fight or find out what’s wrong with the world.
Or, when the time comes and the need to justify yourself or explain who you are comes to an end, now we can talk about being free. 
This is when there are no more numbers between us – there’s no more ties to our status and it’s safe to just “be” without having to grab on to a label or find a definition of who we are. 

When life is not about money anymore and there’s no more need to “keep up with the Joneses” or when the senseless competitions are over – perhaps now, we can finally get some sleep.
Maybe now the bouts of anxiety or insomnia can rest. When we hit the sheets, our head can find the pillow, like “ah,” and we can sleep through the night without waking up to thoughts that make us want to jump up and run.
When there’s no more room for excuses and there’s no more need to explain or give in to the struggles with anticipation – or when the mind is at peace because at last, we’ve come to an understanding with ourselves. This acceptance, which is more than admitting to something – this is more than just saying “Yeah, this is me,” and this is more than acceptance. This is feeling it and knowing its truth.
This is more than the lip service of change and more than just actions. This is meeting ourselves at a level of understanding and seeing our reflection without judgment. This is becoming the bravery it takes to say “this is me” without concern or worry or pushback from anyone else. 

In fact, this is the true nature of balance because this is life when we are detached from irrational passion or unreasonable demands. This is life when we are unhinged from good or bad, right or wrong. This is freedom. This is life when it’s not lived in our head. This is us when we realize the difference between necessary and not.

I have been talking about walking away from the common grind. I want to get away from the different degrees of separation or the conversations like, “I have this and you have that.”
I want to step away from people who go off about themselves, like, “Say, did you see the new car in the driveway,” or otherwise known as the extension of someone’s manhood.

Or, what about the constant jockeying for position? What about the need for status? What about the gossip mills and the rumor factories? After all, isn’t this what teaches us shame?
Or worse, isn’t this what brings on the anticipation of shame and there we are, worried about what might come next. Who might think what? Who might say what?
And goddammit, this is draining. Better yet, this is absolutely exhausting.
This is the opposite of freedom. This is more than living poorly and more than feeling abandoned or alone. This is the constant judgment in our heads. This is the incessant conversation we have with ourselves – but when this goes away, then we’re free. 

When there’s no more need for plastic decorations or to fit the commercial molds – or when we allow ourselves to stop the worry and wonder about us, as in are we beautiful?
Are we enough? Are we deserving? When there’s no more connection to these superficial bonds and body types – or when at last, we can stop measuring each other and “just be” without acting out loud or measuring, “Am I fit enough?” Now we can talk about being free.

More and more, I am learning about freedom and how this is no more than a concept of the mind. I am realizing that prison is not just a place where bars and concrete can hold a person in.
I am learning that dungeons are dark but there are people who still live their life in accordance with a jailed mindset – and they can be as free as you or anyone else. They can stand outside to smell the clean air. They can be on top of the world yet they still feel as if they are under it. 

I am learning more about the concepts of the mind and how an imprisoned soul is sentenced to an outward sense of solitary confinement.  

Or look at Cousin Contagious.
Look where he is, locked away behind doors and bars and living in an institution which does nothing for him, per-se, except keep Cousin away from society.
There’s no lesson here. Just time served. There’s no recovery here. There’s no rehabilitation here. No, for him, there’s only more of the same. Yet, in a weird way, he’s free.
Cousin doesn’t have to worry about the stressors of outside life. He’s safer in jail than he is outside of its walls. See? This is what his life has become – and they say this all the time. They talk about the three outcomes being jails, institutions and death.
Sadly, my favorite Cousin has proved this to be true. He can’t get away from himself – and what happens? Well, when the truth of his reality hits home, Cousin finds himself on a terrible bender. He wakes up in handcuffs and just like that, he is separated from himself and placed in an institution where he can be safe. The wild fact about this is jail is an unsafe place yet Cousin is probably safer in jail then when he is on the outside.

I am realizing that people imprison themselves in more ways than one. I am realizing that when we cannot control something and we still try to fix or control it – we lose ourselves to a downward spiral of thoughts and degradation.
We go into the ideas of blame and shame, guilt and regret. We start to attach ourselves to all the wrongs of the world and to what avail?
There is no avail. There is no profit here. There is no advantage. In fact, our thinking can lead us to an incredible disadvantage.

I am trying to come to what I see as a personal supplication. I am not good or bad or right or wrong anymore. I am only me, which is the only person I can be.
I want to understand the various stages of freedom and how to reach, touch, smell and taste what it means to be free from all of the above.
I want to break the chains.
Mother, I want to break away. I want to break the mold, walk away and not feel the need to look back to see who’s watching, who noticed or who cared.

I want to find the stoic principle which allows us to manage our lives without the constant mapping or coding of emotional attachments that do nothing else but provide a disservice.
I am not saying that I do not want to feel or that I do not want to experience emotion. What I am saying is that freedom is unemotional.
This comes when we are not connected or addicted to results and we are not dependent upon acceptance – or at least outside acceptance, and rather than give in and try to be like minded or “fit in” as they say; our thoughts like this would no longer exist because rather than worry who likes me or whether I am judged, or condemned , hated or loved; I can be free to understand that judgment is just as unnecessary as someone’s opinion. These are all useless concepts of the mind.

This means I know who I am and no one can tell me about me. No one can say something honest about me that I am not brave to say about myself.
There are no more worries about disorders or the labels of so-called mental illnesses. Maybe this is the new normal.
Maybe we’re all a little fucked up and maybe that’s fine. Maybe if we learned to accept ourselves and stopped judging; maybe if we felt free enough to be us – maybe then, people like Cousin Contagious wouldn’t be in the prison’s infirmary on a suicide watch. By the way, thank God they got to him before it was accomplished.

I saw a picture of an actor who was highly successful. He had it all. He had money. He had the love of the crowd. He had the love of a woman. He had the love from his children yet he had something inside of him – and that “thing” or whatever it was – that “something” he had spoke louder than the cheers and the royalty checks. That “thing” led him to end his life.
See what I mean about prison.
Some prisons don’t have bars or guards.
Just one warden. Just one inmate.

I remember there was a speaker who talked about being in “the hole,” back when he was imprisoned in Alcatraz. He said they put him in a dark cell. No light. Not even a glimmer or a semblance of dimness. Just darkness.
He was placed in a room where there was a literal hole in the floor, which was intended for bathroom functions, which I am sure the smell was ungodly at best. By the way, this is why places like this are named “The hole.”
The ex-inmate explained that the floor was filthy, roach-filled and there were mice or rats. Once he was in the room, the inmate tore off one of his shirt buttons. He sank to his knees and then flipped the button in the air. He said that after this, he would scour the floor on his hands and knees, searching through the muck and filth to find his button. When he found it, he would do this all over again.

According to him, they took his freedom. They took his light. They took space away. They took everything they could. But no matter what, he would not let them take away his mind. 

I guess my job for the rest of my life is to focus and find my button – so-to-speak – I have to do this by any means necessary. No matter what I have to search through; no matter how dark it gets and no matter how filthy the job becomes, I have to maintain my mind.
By the way, this is why the actor committed suicide. He was losing his mind and, to him, this was all he really had. Nothing else mattered.

Mother, I don’t want to lose my mind. In fact, I don’t want to lose anything anymore – maybe this is why I want to strip down to nothing. This way, I can be safe. I can be happy and free to be removed from our crazy attachments. Know what I mean?

Have a good day, Mother.
I will reach out to Cousin tomorrow.

Love always,


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