Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Confronting the Past

Shameful by Rufino Tamayo (LACMA)
May’s selection for the Alhambra Civic Library’s Page Turners Book Club was Piper Kerman’s prison memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison. Kerman had been involved in money laundering and drug trafficking, but had bowed out when it proved too risky. Years later, her past caught up with her when she was dragged into court, convicted, and sent to a women’s correctional facility.

What initially struck me about her story was how Kerman seemed rather surprised – and rather upset – that she was found out. After all, she’d had a chance to get her life back together: career, relationship, etc. And then she was made to pay for something she’d practically forgotten about. Now to spoil the ending: Yes, she eventually learns some valuable lessons about what damaging affects her actions had on others. But what it took was the painfully embarrassing process of having her crimes exposed.

While I’ve never had an experience as serious as Kerman’s, I felt like I could identify with her. Sometimes we think we can bury a not-so-spotless past under a pile of time, but there’s always a chance that our sins will eventually be uncovered for all to see. And even though it might be uncomfortable, or even shameful, there will likely be a sense of relief. We can confront our past, and feel the freedom that comes with no longer needing to run and hide.