Expectations. Realities. Get Over It.

Lights In the Distance. . .

Walks’ Outdate – 26 Days and Counting

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

Expectations. We all have ‘em, like when you go to a restaurant and order food, you expect it to come out well prepared and to your expectations of delicious. Or when you see a big dog growling and barking, you expect it to be mean or a threat. Unless you’re Cesar Milan and wanna try to whisper to the nice doggie, you get the heck out of there to someplace where Cujo can’t get ya. (That would be me, I do not care at all for mean dogs.)

But that’s really not what this is about. This is about people and the things we hold on to or the false fronts we put up with each other. Just as everyone has likes and dislikes, we all have certain things we “expect” from others and ourselves as well. For instance I don’t expect people to forget that in my early and younger days I was a fairly dangerous and deceitful person, not worth a tinkers damn. I could not be trusted to anything except what I wanted for me, or what I felt was of gain to me, regardless of who I hurt or who I deceived or who I mistreated, either by deception or out and out theft. See, that was wrong. My behavior was horrible and totally unacceptable. Such behavior is wrong for anyone, but for me to have treated people like that became my burden. At this point, I’ve begged forgiveness as much as I can or will. I have forgiven myself for all the nasty things I did. I have been told I’m forgiven by most of the people in my life and so it’s time to just move on.  

Now that I have paid my debt in full I don’t look to intrude my expectations upon anyone, and I certainly would not expect anyone to just “forget.”  If you have heard from me that I am sorry and acted like you accepted my apology, then let it be that. Isn’t that what anyone would expect if they had made mistakes and then paid for them whatever the cost came to be?  At this point haven’t you earned redemption, or if not redemption, then at least the chance to move freely around for the remainder of your life without having to “prove” yourself to anyone?

See, it’s like this, I have things to do and things to still make up for, but not to you or for you, but for me and to myself. Yes, that’s right – to and for myself! Even though I made a mess of things in the past – 20, 30, 40 years ago – it’s time to let that go, especially on the forgiveness part. See, I know the real changes in my own self. I know the many nights I laid in these prison cells and silently sobbed myself to sleep thinking of the cruddy things I had done in the past to those I love or claimed to love. I know how heartfelt my prayers were, begging the Creator to fix me or kill me in here, to show me how to not be a demanding, self-serving person, to show me how to care for people as people and to not lose myself to the harsh treatment of my keepers. I begged for the strength to not become the animal they pretend I am so that they can justify the sick and demented way they treat everyone in prison, like we are less than human, not men with feelings and beliefs and desires, and here’s the big one, regrets.

When I go home I do not for one second have great expectations on how I will be received by the people I have wronged in the past, nor do I feel that I am obligated to prove anything to anyone. Beyond that, I will continue to answer to the Creator first and second, to myself. Even the person whom I respect and admire and love more than any living human being I know, will have to just go with her trust in me. This person has already said it is not her place to judge or forgive; she never met that long-ago person and sees only the good in my heart. While I have no doubt about her unconditional love and concern for me, I also have no right to have the expectation of that love.

See, it’s like this: In my past 20 years of change for the better, I have learned many things, about myself and life and people and how it is to be a good person as opposed to a bad person. The change starts within and that’s where it ends – within yourself – and if others don’t see it then it’s because they don’t want to. There is no proving you have changed, you either have or you haven’t. There is no proving you forgive, you either do or you don’t, and there darn sure are no degrees or term limits on how long or what you will need to present to others to prove anything. You are either going to be worth life and respect, or you’re not.

People who live in glass houses should never forget that they, too, have made mistakes. Were they caught or did they try to repair the damage?  Did they make any attempt in their lives to do better and truly forgive themselves and others? I guess what I’m trying to say here is, if you have found it in your heart to forgive me, then I beg one more boon of forgiveness from you. Forgive me if I don’t spend my time trying to prove to you that I have changed. I will be far too busy living what’s left of my life and doing the positive things I have planned, to meet your expectations or to put any on you…

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder well into my eighties. I have lived an ordinary life doing all the ordinary things expected of women of my generation. But through it all, 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. A registered nurse by profession, I have long had a strong interest in writing and genealogy with a special interest in Southeastern Creek Indian history and culture. In my golden years, just when I was thinking “retirement,” some unexpected things happened that led me down a totally unfamiliar path. I’ve since learned it took a lifetime of experiences to prepare me for the challenges to come. My journey – indeed my calling – led me to a remarkable man, a Mvskoke & Ani-yun-wiya known as Ghost Dancer, hidden away for decades behind bars in state and federal prisons. Communicating daily by e-mail for the next nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost Dancer discussing many common interests with candor and respect. Most remarkable to me was Ghost’s absolute dedication to his spiritual leadership role within the Native population. With loving kindness at all times, Ghost shared many of his teachings, including lessons from within the sacred sweat lodge. A full index to Ghost's shared teachings can be found at GHOST DANCER'S SACRED PATH. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his personal life story in small bits, like pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now with his health a shambles, Ghost Dancer is at last free and has begun putting those pieces together; he wants the world to know the whole truth of his amazing personal journey in the chapters of his book in progress, ALL FOR THE RIGHT TO PRAY. As his friend and editor on JOURNEYS OF THE SPIRIT, I can say this is indeed a story so big that even after these many years, I continue to be astonished as Ghost reveals new details of his solitary walk on the Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving, gifted child, he felt a strong bond with his cultural heritage in a world where family loyalty was a sacred trust and Native roots were kept secret. As a result the callow youth endured many heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. As a young teen, Ghost heeded the call to learn from the great Native spiritual leaders gathered at Wounded Knee. The influence of the elders and spiritual leaders on his young mind was profound but the political conflicts of the moment ultimately cast this loyal young boy as a target of a system determined to destroy him by any means. For the next 40 years in and out of prison, Ghost would struggle to remain true to his calling both as a teacher and an activist fighting for the religious rights of Native Americans. (Note: Currently Ghost is focused on things he must do to regain his health and has put writing the final chapters about the the wrongful convictions that put him in federal prison for the past 28 years on hold. He still has dreams for the future so he will be back!) Ghost Dancer would later introduce me to Walks On The Grass, one of his spiritual brothers and another federal prisoner. Walks’ story on JOURNEYS OF THE SPIRIT is totally compelling, though very different. In LONG ROAD HOME, Walks has shared his decades-long spiritual journey from deep addiction to wholeness. He follows up with ALONG THE WAY and finally, LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE as he prepares emotionally and mentally to transition to life outside after 37 years of incarceration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: