In going to prison, I learned the hard way how resistance to losses increases the suffering. Instead, there has to be a kind of surrender. I found that the degree of suffering is directly related to the degree of holding on, and most of us don’t let go of anything very easily.
A subtle part of this dance with loss was knowing and remembering that although my body was imprisoned, my heart and mind had a different kind of freedom. The most important thing I learned in those years is that even in the midst of a long prison sentence, there can be happiness, even joy.
Now to the tricky part: ALL of life is a blessing, a gift. For years, I couldn’t call the loss of material goods and my freedom a gift. It felt like a curse, actually, something underserved and unnecessary. Ah, but there are gifts here, too. Losses remind us that we don’t have forever to take care of what matters most to us. In those years of doing what I could to help other inmates, my life opened up like a flower, and grace came in a thousand ways like a cloud of butterflies on a summer’s morning.
So loss is a dance, an admonition, a curse, a blessing. I would not wish it on anyone. Nonetheless, here I am. How can I not bow down to it? It has humbled me and stripped me bare; it has given me my true life.