That’s Institutionalized – In Dreams


That’s Institutionalized is a blog series about inmates. The series showcases the anonymous writings of offenders in Virginia. The writings include narrative accounts on past lives, convictions, dreams, and future plans.

“Do you know where dreams come from? Acetylcholine Neurons fire high voltage impulses into the forebrain. These impulses become pictures, the pictures become dreams but no one knows why we choose these particular pictures.” ~ Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks

The jail is an interesting place – it is a place deprived of humanity. Upon entering a jail, one carries a heavy burden of humiliation, dread, and oppression. Inmates have written accounts of isolation and the nearness of insanity. A lack of humanity can drive any rational man senseless, and turn a low-offense criminal to murder. If I have learned anything leading a writing class in the jail, it is that men require imagination and an abundance of humanity to remain sane. I have learned that men require encouraging intervention to grow. I have learned that any man can learn from another individual’s life and dreams, even a criminal. Dreams, like life, can be confusing and while the purpose of dreaming (and living) remains a mystery, we are offered the freedom to wonder in the vast unknown. What better way to cherish and maintain our freedom through mindfulness?

In Dreams

Below is a written account of an inmate’s dream.

The last dream I had was me hitting the numbers for the state lottery. I was on a bike. It was a blue ten speed bike with shiny wheels and white wall tires. On my way to the store, an older woman shouted: “4, 2, 1, 3.” The numbers stayed in my head till I got to the store clerk who asked me if there was anything else I wanted to buy. My voice got very low for some odd reason, maybe from rotating my spit in my mouth, and I heard bird’s feathers flapping together swiftly in a song on the radio, the noise threw me off. That moment the older woman’s numbers popped in my head. This woman looked or reminded me of a belly dancer or exotic gypsy. The store clerk was in their 30’s, a man that looked Latin, and I was reminded me of the numbers. The clerk played the numbers and I walked home. My blue bike was stolen. No one saw anything in front of the store, no one. On the way back, I woke up. The next day, 12:00 PM, the numbers were 4, 2, 1, 2. And, that’s my ending. I haven’t the strangest idea why it ended that way. Maybe it meant I’m one step away from my number.


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