Sunday, May 07, 2017

the rock

we as a family are trying to give more gifts of experience than of material things

one of those christmas gifts of experience was a day visiting the infamous federal prison and site of native american occupation in 1969 to 1971, alcatraz island

when you travel to san francisco it is very hard to miss alcatraz sitting in the middle of the bay a jewel among jewels

in fact this is the my third visit to the rock, the first time was when i was about 10 or so, the second time was when anna and i were brand new newlyweds

things change, e.g. when i was a little boy the tour of the prison was led by a docent and when you got to the isolation cells you were invited to step inside, the docent would close the door, and you would experience the cold darkness of the prisoners, i mean, i didn't step inside the isolation cells with the door closed, i was born a chicken, i will leave the earth a chicken

now, the tour is an audio led self-tour that is as much a story of the prison as it is a recreation of the actions and conditions of living and working on the island, the isolation cells are still available to step in to but the doors remain open and the prisoner narrating the hellish experience of being trapped inside without any light on the digital device hanging around your neck is still a chilling experience

and that is what blows my mind, because a steps away from the isolation cells, outside a door you face the breathtaking vista of san francisco, to your left is the bay bridge, to your right is the golden gate, a view denied the men caged within the walls just a few feet away

that even the most horrible among us are still human and, i think, if you treat them like human beings, allow them a measure of respect because they are fellow living creatures, then they might behave in kind

the rock, in spite of formerly being a prison, is a spectacularly beautiful place, the gardens built and tended by the cons are gorgeous, the vistas can bring tears of joy, the views, the sun, the fog, the salt air and the sound of crashing waves bring the better part of our natures

at least for the most part, there are horrible incorrigible people among us, and what do we do that tiny minority?  i don't know

shit is complicated, ain't it?  but perhaps we need to remember we are all ordinary, limited human beings, the better of us, and the worst

at any rate, nick was dazzled by the views and his phone died because he was taking so many photos, and nick was so involved in his pictures he often forget time and us, it is amazing to see our young man at work composing his photographs

oh, we also avoided driving into the city, driving in the bay area always sucks, so we took the ferry from vallejo to s.f. , an hour's journey across the bay, we avoided the noise and bustle of city traffic and parking, kicked up our heels and enjoyed our sun-drenched day on the rock


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