It Occurs to Me

Along the Way. . .

Experiences, Insights & Humor on the “Long Road Home”

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

I seem to have found a new hobby. It involves just staying in my bed, thinking, and letting my mind wander across the fields of my thoughts and wishes, ear plugs in, eyes closed, blankets pulled up, or not, depending. It’s so relaxing and de-stressing to envision some of my plans or to make new ones, design new jewelry ideas and revisit some old ones, looking to improve on them or add some more styles, and colors, mixing the gems up in my mind, letting the pattern flow like water across the stream. What a wonderful pastime this is proving to be, quiet, even productive.

It’s also proven to be a place where I can explore new ideas and again, revisit old ones, where I can weave my adventures and mold my thoughts, write my songs and forge my stories, who would have thought that the quiet would be so very useful, calming and relaxing, yet so wonderful in its ability to provide a workshop that can be cleaned up with the flick of a thought, erase the slate, just open the eyes or move on to another thought, letting the tide of thoughts free to wash ashore into consciousness.

I kind of like my new hobby. I have been calling it my “Artist’s Workshop” but it’s really so much more. It’s a place I can retreat to where I don’t have to face the fears that I have deep down inside, the ones I don’t tell anyone about because I don’t have anyone to tell and I don’t want people to laugh at my fears. To me they are real, and there that is. See, being out here is being vulnerable to the thoughts I don’t want to think about, but in the workshop….Mmmm, relax and enjoy the ride. Things are mellow and peaceful, and I don’t have to be afraid.

Not so much afraid as apprehensive, the world is frightening to me now because I don’t know it. I mean, I know me and I know my plans, but to do the things I want to do as I finish life, I will have to step out there into the unknown areas, into situations and environments that I am not familiar with. Everything will be brand new to me, and this I am sure is going to be a confusing and tumultuous endeavor.

I will have to try to navigate the seas of humanity, crowds, traveling to and from, here and there, upstream all the way. The thing is, if you don’t know how to do something you tend to be uncomfortable doing it until it becomes as familiar as your pillow or your clothes. So the things you take for granted, things that are commonplace, I have never done and I still have yet to learn. I never really had any experiences as an adult in the world. I came to prison very young, I have learned to live and thrive and survive in here, but I don’t know how to program a T.V. to play a movie, or how to turn on a cell phone, much less how to use it to call anyone or to look up directions or make an appointment or to order something.  

I am awash in the things I don’t know or have or have never experienced, I’m virtually a time traveler, unwelcomed in your techno world by the sheer fact of where I came from, so I’m kind of afraid of all it will take to get from here to there. Once I arrive, I’m sure that I will make it thru. I’m fairly clever, I’m now able to read and understand and I’m pretty good at masking my emotions and being the stoic person that this past 37 years has created. I have survived intact in spite of it all,

I’m not going to keep tripping on what I will have to go thru. I’m just merely saying that I WILL go thru it, and if you happen to see me looking confused or baffled, or if I don’t seem to understand something, I assure you it’s because I don’t. Not that I’m playing dumb, just that I don’t know, but give me time, I’ll figure it out. After all, I can always go to the “Artist’s Workshop” and cogitate on it. Smile. You all have a nice day, I’ll be glad to share mine with ya….

© Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher, 2021


Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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