Fog Count

As I walked to work on a dark morning in late October, I noticed a very light fog in the glow of the street lights. After I had settled into my palatial office and then walked through the maintenance shop to see the sunrise, our supervisor came through and told us all to return to the housing unit as there was a "fog count." Apparently inmates escape when there is fog, just like Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank Prison in a thunderstorm. Now granted, we have no fences here and I could simply walk out anytime, if I had someplace to go.

We all walked back to the housing unit for our "fog count" with the morning sun warming up a clear blue sky. To my dismay, the law library was closed. I slowly remembered that it was Tuesday, which is the day the education supervisor comes to the camp and makes sure anything and everything remotely related to education is locked. With that option gone, the last place I wanted to go was back to my bunk where there would be 7 people within 3 feet of me, so I ended up in the main library, a place usually full of people playing cards and yelling. Oddly, it was peaceful.

So there I sat for an hour reading and writing. Finally the camp officer decided to actually count us. To no one's surprise, we were all still here. Then we waited another hour and were told to "hurry" back to work. I'm not sure what hurry means in the Bureau of Prisons context because I have yet to witness or experience anything approaching a hurry here. Maybe it means not taking 10 times longer than it should, so I walked back to work at a normal pace, obviously unfashionably early as the place was deserted when I arrived.

About once every 4-6 weeks here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, I mentally encounter the same scenario as the fog rolls into my head and I don't quickly respond. Then when it finally clears, my mind is still in fog count mode. I've tried different fog clearing techniques, and by far the best has been writing.

Mary Karr, who wrote "Liar's Club" claims that for her "writing is a spiritual experience." I couldn't agree more. For me, it's been the best way to clear the fog that engulfs me periodically here. While I'm not a particularly great writer, often what I write makes considerably more sense than what I say. Maybe I should speak less and embrace the obvious benefits of slowing down my mind long enough to quietly formulate thoughts and longhand them onto notebook paper.

One of my purposes when I started this blog almost 15 months ago was that hopefully the process of writing would help me re-calibrate my life. For me, it has created a path to doing just that. What is that for you? Maybe you think writing is boring, but not running. Maybe woodworking, reading, landscaping/gardening, cooking, or prayer/meditation serve as fog clearing endeavors.

Chances are you're already doing it, you may just not recognize the positive impact.