Saturday, January 5, 2013

Asylum Walk (6)

Halfway House. In some ways it was the perfect university. Public library down the street, coffee shops for after-hours or a change of location. Simple but sufficient meals, and no distractions: single bed, nightstand, bureau, chair. Day after day of reading and writing in spiral-bound notebooks, sitting and walking. Years of that compression. Expansive compression. And the condition of being just-released: also perfect for a student. Sleepless thrill and urgency to learn a fledgling world, to recreate it for yourself. The only drawback (serious but not seen so at the time): no community of other students. Ideas incubated in isolation. They grew fast and unchallenged. Conditions—you were a long time realizing this (another consequence of isolation)—that promote proliferation but not robustness or real thriving. Bonsai enlightenment...weed epiphanies.

“Assisted living,” someone, a supervisor, said, years later, “That was an unfortunate phrase.” She winced, as at some irony, an unintended slight that deserved an apology.

“No,” you said after a moment’s thought. “That was accurate. And...appreciated.”

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