I was walking high up from a sandy beach along the coast. I could see down the hill and in the distance, there were waves crashing. It looked like the area hadn't been touched in a long time, very much apocalyptic. There was a dry wind and the grasses brown and I stood in front of an old stucco building with a rusted bike leaning on it. The bike had a long banana seat with cracked upholstery. There were platforms sticking out of the back wheel screws for a passenger's feet. There were no rubber tires on the rims and rust was caked on the chain. It clearly hadn't been used in ages.
As I looked up, I saw Ruth standing there in cargo shorts, a pair of flip-flop sandals and a sun hat carrying a narrow piece of Plexiglas in one hand and a marker in the other. She pulled the bike away from the building and kicked the rusted kickstand down in place. Then she asked me to lay down by the back wheel and look up at the foot platforms. She drew a picture of a foot outline on the Plexiglas and placed the narrow piece in the foot platform and asked me to watch and imagine it's usefulness....
I looked on long and hard and then I saw it. The rust fell away from the platform, then the chain, then the bike itself. The bike became saturated in color, the seat cracks healed, and it became useful again. The color spread to the dry grass and it became bright green. I could see a rider's foot, then the leg, then the woman on the back part of the bike holding onto the waist of the operator. She was smiling so big with her head back, staring up at the sun, absorbing it's rays. It all became so real and full of usefulness and purpose. This bike was a vehicle to be enjoyed again and it started with Ruth's marker, a piece of Plexiglas, and some instructions on imagining the usefulness.
My time in prison is successful because I imagine my usefulness. I know this about myself and my life's outcome. But sometimes I just see broken things around me. Broken men with broken dreams from broken homes serving god knows how much time for doing god knows what. But what if we could just re frame them and imagine their usefulness? What if we could help them re imagine themselves? Maybe life as a whole could be better and these broken things could become vibrant, colorful and useful again, if only we imagine it first. Get your Plexiglas and marker ready and let's all make the world useful...
by Rory Andes
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