Along the Way. . .

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

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

I am homeless.

After nearly 37 years of captivity, when I get out of prison I will go to a halfway house for a while. After that I will have nowhere to go, homeless. This fact is increasingly bothersome to me. See I have always prided myself on not needing anything from anyone and kind of had an “I’ll get it for myself” attitude. But this won’t be the case anymore. I am now older, I have several disabilities that will make it very hard for me to work and even harder to work in the field I have the most training in because not many manufacturing facilities exist where I’m being sent.

I may, no, I will have to count on others for help. I am going to have to count on Social Security to assist me in living with the disabilities; I will need medical insurance to cover my medicines and I most certainly will need help securing housing.  

Photo by Keegan Houser on Pexels.com

But I also want to go back to college for a degree in social work so I will be able to counsel and mentor others with addictions or criminal problems. I will need help with that too in the form of scholarships or grants to help with books, travel to and from, and food. All these things I am going to need help with.

So the reality is occurring to me that regardless of the fact that I will be free from prison, I will still be in captivity in another way. I will be at the mercy of my “needs” and not truly able to fend for myself for any of the things that make me know I am going to be ok.

Yes, I definitely have goals and dreams, but I must ask myself if I am making these goals and dreams simply because they will provide me and excuse to get help in securing my needs or am I really and truly wanting and desiring the things I tell myself and others I want and need?

I find that the closer I get to freedom, the further I seem to be from being self-reliant, and this is discomfiting to me. I need to know I can do this on my own, but the simple fact is I can’t unless “on my own” is defined as taking advantage of everything that is available to those who “need” such as the assistance programs and the educational assistances and all the other “assistances” I will “need.”

So  it seems that the less I like the fact of being unable to provide for my every need, the more I will have to get used to it. See when I asked a person in a recent phone call, for a future favor, they said they couldn’t commit to anything. This made me feel awkward in the asking for something that I’d “need.” I will find a way but still, I will “need” and how I have come to hate that word.

I know that I have a fair amount of intelligence. Even if my grammar and punctuation do stink, I have still managed to figure out how to unscramble this mess of letters and convey what I’m thinking in a manner that others can read and understand. My dyslexia is still with me so I sometimes feel as  if I’m translating in my mind from “my” language into another language that I only speak because I “need” to, in order to communicate. There’s that dang word and fact again, “need.” I have kind of been mulling over this for a week or so and I have to get this out in hopes that it will cleanse me of the feeling it leaves me with every time I think about it.

I guess things have come down to this: I have to accept the fact that even though I have planned for this day, I will “need” help and I will need to humble myself and stop with the self-isolation. I will need help in learning how to live in the world again.

So, as always, here we are at now. I have to accept the fact that I need help, and I also have to appreciate the fact that help is available and I will be grateful to receive any help that is out there.

I must also continue to seek humility and know that “needing” help is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. Needs. We’ve all got them, and when you are like me, homeless, you may have a lot of them.

© 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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