”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering.” —Meister Eckhardt–

 

I think everyone discovers, as a matter of due course in life, that reality sucks. We’re birthed into this world–by no choice of our own, mind you–and thrown into the madness of life.

”Good luck kid,” says Mother Nature, ”you’ll be lucky if you make it.” And with innocent eyes the child replies to this statement of fact, as all children inevitably do, with blind love and optimism.

And so, one endures and from time to time suffers in life, but none so much as prisoners do. ”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering”. Ain’t that the truth. But this quote would be more accurate if it were ”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering, lest you die first.”

Perfection? I’ve often wondered what Master Eckhardt meant by that. Isn’t perfection in the eye of the beholder? Must I really suffer to perfect the things I yearn to master?

As a prisoner I move to and fro in my cage like the hamster whose world he can see in totality. Unlike the hamster, I am aware. Yet, we prisoners share similar lives as with our hamster brethren. We blindly march from point A to point B. Forever marching to nowhere, the chow hall, the yard, the cell block–everything repetitive, and like the day before. I’d argue with Meister Eckhardt I suffered not in perfecting that.

Behind these uncaring walls suffering thrives. Men wither beneath the calloused hand of time. I see, yet don’t notice, for my mind has conditioned itself to filter the misery from the visual.

And so I go about my days passing by the sick and forlorn, the mad and aggrieved. I see not the man who cries when he thinks no one is looking, nor do I take in the aggrieved voices of the suffering. I stopped seeing and hearing years ago.

Does it really matter? After all, from suffering speeds perfection. Eventually these men will perfect what they seek. Some seek to extricate themselves from fading relationships, others seek a way out from the talons of pain of having lost loved ones while imprisoned.

I’ve suffered and I’ve submitted beneath time’s cruel claws. I’ve long since perfected. So I wander about within my cage content to pursue the things that matter to me, intentionally blind to those who haven’t. A hamster in it’s little world.

And like the hamster we prisoners exist until we don’t. Perfected in the end.

Christopher (Madison Correctional Institution) (OH)

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