within these crooked walls

3.16 DH -‘We are each spinning our individual threads, lending texture, color, pattern to the ‘big design’ that is serving us all’ – Karen Casey, American author

 I follow the thread of true self faithfully for a while. Then I lose it and find myself back in the dark, where fear drives me to search for the thread once again. – Parker Palmer, from ‘A Hidden Wholeness’

Last week we wrote on the threads that connect in our lives – inspired in part by the opening epigraphs (above) and by the short poem by William Stafford, ‘The Way it Is’ (which opens with “There is a thread that you follow.”

Writing spanned topics from family to abuse and addiction to hopeful love. But the best part came after the writing, when we returned to one of our favorite art projects: using string and ink to create random line forms that we later color to bring out what ‘appeared’ to each artist in the process. The image, above, was created by the writer, below. As she worked on the image, her feelings about the imagery shifted; the inside/outside nature of the work, including the hand reaching for and at the same time sliding away from happiness, is haunting in its clarity.


Wake up every day to the same routine.

Feeling like a robot who’s master sits in the bubble controlling my every move

Maybe I should be like the Joker and have a smile cut into my face?

‘Cause who knows happiness, what is it inside these walls?

Being let down and bullied?
Or controlled and humiliated?
Being tested like a lab rat with a different man-made concoction to keep me from snapping out on the population?

They call me a pistol because I pop off when people pull my trigger.

‘Cause who knows happiness?

Food that’s carb-packed to make you gain weight; and showers that go from 0 – 100 depending on the second.

Always searching for that one reason,
that one reason to be happy.

I’ll never find it within these walls.

That’s why I sleep my life away, and pray tomorrow brings a better day.

That way I can try and find some happiness within these crooked walls.


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