Now that he’s getting out, he would love “a place where I could get away from everyone who wasn’t a true loved one. I could kick back and close my eyes and not worry about anything. A sanctuary of refuge and protection.”
Because of his crazy family, foster care placements and dangerous neighborhoods, Marlon never had a home like that, even as a child. “I don’t know if such a place exists for me,” he said, “but I’m going to try to find the closest thing to it I can.”
Marlon is on Act 2 of his heroic journey. Most of us have such journeys, which are sometimes called “life.” They have been written, sung, shown on movie screens for thousands of years. I am on one; you may be too. It helps to recognize our journeys for what they are.
In Act 1, heroes leave home, either searching for something better, following a dream, righting a wrong, or seduced by outside attractions. Many non-heroic types are forced on these journeys, too. Home disappears, or becomes unlivable, or never existed, or is ripped away from us. Illness or trauma obliterates our comfort and safety and sends us on a journey we never wanted.
In Act 2, goals accomplished or not, the hero tries to get back home. This struggle is often harder than the original quest. In Act 3, he finds that everything he needed was at home all along. He just hadn’t known it was there. Home may or may not be located in a familiar physical place or among familiar people. Where and what it is, is the subject of this story.
Marlon’s Act 2 began about three years ago, after a particularly stinging denial of parole. After decades of trying to beat the system, to meet the stated requirements for parole, he realized the quest was impossible. For a poor African-American man, the system cannot be beaten. He would have to change himself.
With the help of some church-affiliated self-help programs, he undertook the heroic quest to find his true self. He had to come to terms with the pain of his youth and face the harm he had caused with his crime. He had to learn to express what he found in language the Prison Board would accept – words like “remorse” and “responsibility” figure heavily.
He isn’t putting on an act. Putting on an act wouldn’t work. Marlon has become peaceful, more centered, more honest with himself, less angry. “Wiser” would be a good word. Other inmates come to him for advice and counsel. He is finally set to be released this spring.
The next phase of the journey might be even harder. Jobs aren’t plentiful for anyone, much less 52 year old ex-convicts. He won’t have many legal rights out here. He is halfway home, but there is still a long way to go.
Good to read and think about this, David. Thank you.
Best wishes to Marlon!
It won’t be easy, but getting angry won’t help. There’s so much unfairness in the world for a person with a record, but stability and patience are the answer.
I’ll be thinking about you, and wishing you success!
The answers to deep questions are never spot on. I like clicking one’s heels as a way to go home – there is a kindly sense of humor behind the notion!
David, Nice story and so true. Toni
Seems to me that the expression about not being able to go home has more to do with the passage of time and the changes which are inevitable making the idea of retreat to a world we remember fondly, and often erroneously, a fantasy we all indulge in when times get tough. It is a longing for simpler, more gentle times seen through the perspective of one’s imagination. Simpler, gentler times for one may have been hell for people such as your friend Marlon. The road back for Marlon will be very difficult, and I wish him all the best on his strenuous journey back to the world that never showed him much mercy or kindness. I know you will be his true friend, David – nice article.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and Marlon’s story as you have David. I hope so much that he can find the kind people waiting out there who were not available when he was younger.
Your insights into people’s lives and our human experience is always something that moves me deeply. There is a sincerity and laser integrity in your writing that has a way of going straight to my heart. Thank you so much.
a thoughtful piece, thank you. Marlon stands for a lot. big quandaries he faced up to and found personal route through to finding himself. finding that assurance that we are alright in the midst of pain and fears and worries is exactly what we all need, want, deserve. we all have that potential, too- no matter what. finding our way toward and into it is our life journey. there is a force outside and inside us — how to tap it is what our lives are about. life opens new, clean, and full of possibility when we can do that. i’m working on it! salome
Very nice read, david. Thank you for sharing this writing piece. Love the parables. Your writing resonates with me. It answers questions, and helps me as I am finding home through living sloe to and spending time in nature, through providing service to others.
David, thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom.
Your essay reminds each of us to live more mindfully, and to reflect on, “What is Wisdom?”
I feel grateful, David, to read your essay.
I kept the notice of your current blog post in my inbox for days like a special gift to open only when I had the time and quietude to fully savor. It did not disappoint, and is so relevant to the journey I am now on. Wonderful reminders. Thank you for touching my heart yet again.
Nice piece, Dad.
I don’t know if this fits the theme, but I’ve been feeling more at home in The Mission by accepting the changes, honoring my memories of the past, and relaxing in the fact that I’m still a part of the neighborhood.
If I have to leave, it will be a pain in the neck, but building a new home is possible too.
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