Saturday, May 30, 2015

If I forgot to eat, and sleep and pray....

12. A clean conscience is a good pillow

Walking this morning, I saw a worried man's eyes. Alone in there, like me in the white room with that bland, recently painted smell. Pale people strolled in the sun wearing all manner of sun-protective headgear. I was just as pale, hatless, maybe closer to cancer and a necessary changing of the watch.

In the bookstore, cool, church-like peace, found lines of a short poem spoken in a young girl's secret Pashtun.

You're eyes aren't eyes. They're bees. 
I can find no cure for their sting. 

So I remembered your eyes and their particular warmth, and how inside me things change when I look into them. I thought of the sleep of children. I bowed to the power of this.

Monday, May 18, 2015

11. Anyone can memorize things, but the important thing is to understand it.

But you don't. Walking this wheel again, aware of each misstep, of history repeating. Self awareness is not insight. It is not prevention. This is a loop. This is a lonely mile.

You are a man walking in the sunshine. This time in the sun is a gift not a given, and you know it well. You also understand that it is the sun who decides how long you remain here, not you. An unexpected stretch of joy punctuated by terror. Sun worship. Slavery. Willingly.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Because they can't get up...

10. Don't be afraid to take a chance when the opportunity of a lifetime appears.


Someone - probably jacked up on Crossfit and caffeine - said, "fear is the mind killer" and then put it on a tee shirt. It's a bad ass line from a manifesto about self-overcoming or something like that. It's one of those slogans you write when you're feeling strong, confident and vital; when you're ready for war and tasting victory. Something I once believed, in one form or another, and said right on to. Now I lack energy and belief, and those words just look silly and trite. Frankly, I over-think, over-worry, over-analyze. I spin my wheels. I wait too long.

Someone else said, "it's a terrible thing in life, I think, to wait until you're ready".
It is.

The embedded teaching of the 5th General Order: I will not quit my post until properly relieved. 
Stand fast, the voice says, steady...

She is a few years from 40 and newly free. She is going places. He's closing on 50 fast, saddled with debt and a negative worldview with a reflex for negation. He has children growing somewhere else. He feels them.

I've always been afraid that I wouldn't recognize it when the opportunity of a lifetime appears. Or worse, that I didn't recognize it. There were so many days when I couldn't see clearly or couldn't move.

1:48 am:  Awake between naps. Anxiety has been the predominant flavor of these last years. Heartburn and restless dreams. Inadequacy. Falling asleep in a strange place while waiting for a train. When I wake up, I don't t know if I am on the right side of the tracks or not. I cannot ascertain the direction of travel.

One might say that what's happening now is the direct result of taking my chance on the opportunity of a lifetime. Don't misunderstand, I'd do it again, but it's not pat or simple or happily ever after. Taking a chance on one's own opportunity of a lifetime can trigger the opportunity of a lifetime for another leaving one directly in its' path. Hers approaches like a bullet train. I'm standing on the tracks.

On a cold, snowy February morning we watched nine blue birds outside the window together. We'd never seen blue birds before, and we were delighted. Someone said they signified major life events coming. Change.

Another voice says, the hell with this. You make your own opportunity or you don't and keep waiting.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Your Funeral, My Trial

9. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

The voices in his head have always been unkind. Over the course of his life, he devised various temporary systems of distraction to more or less keep them at bay. Mostly they're like static, a fading conservative talk show on a car radio, frequently nonsensical, most often hateful. They are clearer and louder during quiet times. There have been more of those times lately.

He usually wakes exhausted like he's defended himself through an all-night assault. Such is his state upon waking this morning in the pre-dawn on the baked-hard dirt of the roadside. His clothes are damp, and he is shivering. As he becomes aware of himself, the harsh night voices and the context they are speaking from fade into oblivion. He opens his eyes.

At first he cannot comprehend what he sees. He is looking into brown eyes, curious and surprised. Then he registers a coyote with its nose not an inch from his, ears back, tentative. The man's eyes widen involuntarily and the spell is broken. Without sound the coyote disappears into the high dry grass.

The man struggles to his feet. He cannot be sure of the reality of the situation. The top of the sun has broken the horizon. He is five feet from a deserted, two-lane paved road. The context has shifted again. Last night in the darkness the black land to the left and right of the pavement seemed inviting, deep and soft. He left the road, laid down involuntarily and was fast asleep. It was a sacred feeling - safe. Now in the daylight he must appear insane rising from the ground a few feet from the highway as if dumped from a truck.

There is no one to see. His mouth is dry and tastes foul. The voices begin their work day, and he starts walking.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How do you measure progress? A song from 1970.

8. Never make the mistake of thinking that you know everything about anything.


Kermit The Frog sipping tea quips, I don't see the welfare office on fire, but that's none of my business.

What's happening right now?
What's slipping away?
What's already gone?
What's worth fighting for?
Who do we fight?
Who are we?
Is there a we?

The permanent underclass is expanding. Coal for the furnace. It's more than Marxist theory, more than a pool of surplus labor. Systems for managing them (helping them aka protecting us from them) profit from the transaction. Everyone takes a piece. Churches, prisons, health care, social services, banks, neighborhood liquor stores, Rent-A-Center, pay day lender, and the government too. We lean heavily on the most needy and then mock them. Kick them.

Some people call this a Christian nation.
Some people call this a nation indivisible
with liberty and justice for all.

What facts do I have? What proof?
What network do you get your news from? Are there facts anymore?
The proof is in the editing, made factual by repetition.
The truth is in the living, which some of us never see, while the rest are never heard.

There is a rising stench. There is a building scream. I feel sick. Many do.

It's Spring though. Here comes the sun.