I remember the first day I was given privileges on the hospital grounds. My brother dropped off his old bike for me and I was on it right away. I spent months circling the hospital grounds and loved the feeling of freedom. After I was transferred to the Forensic Rehabilitation Unit I was granted day passes into the community. The first thing I did was ride my bike as far away from the hospital as county boundaries would allow. I loved the feeling of freedom.
I am an involuntary patient in a Forensic psychiatric hospital but I now have privileges. Every day the weather is decent, that is above minus two degrees, I ride my brother’s bike to one of the small outlying communities. One of my favourite rides is to Fingal. Part of this journey takes me through the countryside along what is called “Bush Road”. It is surrounded by forest on both sides of the road and I feel I am far away from my world of limits and incarceration. Along the bush is a fence and I see that it has grown into many of the tree trunks. I see this every day and eventually it becomes a thought. I begin to see that although the wire was once a barrier to the tree it has simply enveloped this obstacle. I realize it is nature’s way to overcome obstacles, to envelope them. The wire is still in the tree but it has not stopped the tree from growing as it should. The obstacles in my life can be the same, I can grow around them. They will always be a part of me and in many ways they are what make me human. There are reasons I have endured and my task is to continue to grow. I must turn my suffering into a human achievement. As I pedal along my thoughts are always my own. There are no boundaries or curfews placed on my dreams. I am as free as I can imagine myself to be. Freedom is what freedom does.
Yes I love the photo as well, I would hate to see whoever rode it into the tree 🙂
Good Evening Brett
I heard your story at the breakfast of champions.
Your words invited me into to join your journey along the bush road
To feel the breeze against my cheek
To smell the early morning air
To see the tree line, the grass along the road
To hear the quiet, the rubber of the bike tires on the roadway, the birds in trees
To open my heart and ruminate on what you were seeing, thinking, and feeling
The analogy of pain and obstacles resonate in my life and in the lives of all of us in your presence
To live this moment, given just for me as it was given for each of us gathered to celebrate the gift of life with its pain and glory, for our souls to become aware, joined together in all our humanity and I stood to applaud your courage and celebrate the joy of our collective personal discovery and I was changed in that moment
I accepted your invitation and I am grateful
I shared your story and have seen the power of reflection in the eyes of those who heard and now too are aware
What a beautiful response. I’m so pleased you were able to find meaning in my journey. My mind wandered back to Bush Road with your reply, thank you.
To ride my bike was a distraction which allowed me to escape what seemed intolerable at times. The image I was left with on that day was to an extent an escape as well. I was able to step back from my struggles and grasp meaning. That meaning has not eliminated hardships but in ways I don’t fully comprehend it has allowed me to embrace parts of my life I would have normally pedaled past. Our lives are all marked by suffering. I was blessed to be able to pull meaning from mine. I rode by this spot many times blinded by my own problems. Many days my pain seemed arbitrary and meaningless, even cruel, fortunately it was transformed as was I.
Thank you again for your thoughtful words.
“I must turn my suffering into a human achievement.” Empowering words, Brett. And sometimes we need words for the impetus to transmute our suffering into something that propels us forward.
That epiphany was a turning point in my life. It was a catalyst to my writing which has lead me here and elsewhere and it gave meaning to my suffering which has at times brought me peace.