Sunday, August 29

Bitterness

It Ends in Fire and Blood

Grateful for Their Unconditional Love

Into the Light

Bitterness

How wretched you must feel
to agree to be interviewed and
asked incendiary questions about
the sudden loss of your young soldier son.

How searing is the pain that
causes you to blame and berate
the commander in chief for whom
your son proudly sacrificed his life.

How useless is the love of a mother
who publicly insults the very people
her son willingly protected from harm,
giving her a minute of attention at his expense.

Where is my compassion for a suffering soul?
Where has my dwindling store of kindness gone?
Why am I embarrassed for this woman’s blame?
Why am I mad that she instead of he will be remembered?
πŸ•ŠπŸ•ŠπŸ•ŠπŸ•ŠπŸ•Š

The unrelenting pain of loss felt by the loved ones of those that serve the nation as soldiers is sharp. Twenty years of war in Afghanistan and almost as long in Iraq to protect us from terror attacks such as 9/11 has cultivated a defensive, warrior mentality in our culture.  Now, every aspect of our lives is a political battle between red and blue, republicans and democrats, cons and libs. Every aspect of of our death must symbolize failure and blame, including the death of an enlisted soldier deployed to protect American interests in Afghanistan.  Accountability and "getting to the (unknowable) bottom of things" has enraptured the political minority. These are good goals, and require research and analytical skills, not to mention a willingness to accept facts. So the US exit from Afghanistan ... what an avoidable debacle. Right?

Now wait a minute, though. What kind of unicorn thinking insists that a withdrawal of troops from over twenty years of  occupation of an historically contentious Asian country can be anything but terrible.  Huge demonstrations decades ago, and on-going protests pointed out the original sin of fighting wars thousands of miles away. Both republican and democrat administrations ignored the wisdom of these protests. You want blame - plenty of it on all sides of the political spectrum. However sloppy and dangerous this surrender is it was instigated by Trump and carried out by Biden who has the balls to put his career on the line to end this vulture fest. Only the military industrial complex folk are shedding tears and realigning their corporate bottom lines until the next "conflict" arises that needs their bunker buster bombs, drones, and mountains of gear.  

To politicize this horrifying moment in American history is what our media has been trained to do. Slant, spin, drum up "donations", " subscriptions", "likes" ad nauseum. Keep the brainwashed masses incensed, agitated, entitled to spew their vicious opinions like Pavlov's hungry dogs. Ring the bell and get the latest update on social media. Don't think. Don't accept. Don't feel the pain of loss in quiet dignity. Maybe we can get lucky and some blogger sticks a mic in our face and off we go, giving a piece of what little mind we have left to the yawning void of public opinion. The terror and sorrow of this moment is diminished. We are once again observers and avoid the bad feelings of being participants in the disaster. 

May we break this disaster porn cycle of addiction sooner rather than later. May we face the facts of American mistakes with clarity and courage. May we boycott the death merchants in our culture whether they be arms dealers or the New York Post. Finally, may we all find compassion and kindness and find the good and honorable in each person we meet. It's time.

Tuesday, July 13

Impossible Task

Abundance

In the Shadow of Trees

Dangerous Delusions

This task I’ve been given is impossible. No question. As baffled as I am about my mission to be a positive influence in this man’s life, I realize that all the assignments before this one were doable. Each one tore down, or strengthened, or illuminated a core belief about humanity, exposing the messy truth, I suppose some would say. Despite hundreds of years of pain, sorrow, boredom, surprise, complacency, joy and now this, I'm supposed to enlighten and ease ignorance. Sigh. Not sure if there are enough brave beings to work with to create an antidote for what passes as a leader these dark days.



He’s about my age according to these times. Large. Odd looking. All fine with me. I’ve worked with lepers, the maimed, the diseased, well, let’s just say their outward appearances were awful and I suffered nightmares trying to devise ways to brighten their days. My success rate has been a little over fifty percent. What a joy it was when I convinced Damien of Molokai to help the lepers of Hawaii. Before he died of the disease, he even eased my own sorrow. It was a difficult but satisfying assignment! This one, though. Despite his appearance of flashy normality, he is festering with secret fears, hatreds, desires, and such a thin skin.

Right now, he’s in his happy place. For most people, this room would evoke dungeons or medieval torture chambers with its matte black mirrored walls enclosing blood red floor tiles. At the opening near the door panel there is a wardrobe of costumes. This closet of delusions is my most surprising and revealing discovery about this man.

Let’s see, it was over a year ago when I discovered this room, one of many hidden behind jumbled facades of opulence. Everyone was at one of his rallies. So I took time to really examine the larger-than-life sized portrait of him, hanging in the family suite. It had an oversized frame, almost industrial but with gilding, of course. I felt around it and snap, the portrait swung out oozing a dark, airless gloom into the sun drenched gold of the family sitting room. I expected to smell sweat and sex thinking this might be the S&M element of his warped desires. Once I entered and found his costume closet complete with military dictator uniforms and even a pathetic santa clause outfit, I realized that he had metastasized beyond the mundane efforts of sex which require too much interaction with humans and does not focus enough on worshiping his godlike self. Despite this demoralizing discovery, I have endeavored to steer him away from his unhealthy obsessions. I thought helping him improve his golf game might unlock an appreciation of nature and simple skills, but he has found ways to ignore any hint of fair play and fun. Every game is practice for beating something, anything, including the greens.

Today, I realize that my task to positively influence this creature is beyond my abilities. I watch him preen in his favorite incarnation of World War II German, Otto Skorzeny nicknamed Scarface, a slippery fascist who assisted in the rescue of Benito Mussolini from his mountain top prison in 1943.  I listen to him mumbling about “loser prisoners of war” inconveniencing those valiant leaders of paratroopers and commandos. Like magic, this trash talk opens his spleen and releases an outpouring of braying to the spirit of Scarface. "Fix the steal," he chants as he crouches and leaps, barring his yellowed teeth, snarling, whipping his shaggy head from side to side while a thin stream of spittle sprays across the black mirror. I hide behind his mangled, life sized cardboard likeness of Barak Obama. I feel the malice embedded in this room, the curses and malicious fantasies made real because he wills it and his fear of losing his power to make wishes come true. This feeling has a taste: stale, ancient, bloody.

I’m embarrassed to admit that watching him and trying to find a tiny crack of human feeling in his faΓ§ade of impervious selfishness is boring. I know I’m an alien on this slowly imploding planet. Is he? When asked why I failed to bring light to this person, my only excuse is that he is not a person according to one of earth’s most well respected philosophers, John Locke, who wrote in 1690 that person is,

“A thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself the same thinking thing, in different times and places.”

As I watch him cavort in his hidden dark room, I see him vary his fantasy selves from a vicious killer to a benign giver of gifts – no consistency, no conscience, no goodness, just unrestrained impulse and lack of impulse control. This more than anything else in his fun house of a mind gives me my biggest excuse. Impossible to find an opening for light and even more daunting, he is unpredictable and undisciplined – not really a person, more earth animal or insect?

Actually, I’ve found animals and insects to be much more receptive to positive influences. My absolute favorites are trees and plants, those efficient and generous engines of photosynthesis. The old 6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2 formula created by one of the first of my kind still works today. It was given to earth way before humans evolved to plague paradise. Such a magnificent way of positively influencing this place and what has the human race done with it? Stupidly, they are cutting down all the trees and devising poisons to alter even the air! Another excuse for my failure: people fear and hate their own species and anything else that lives.

I am told by the old-timers who came here to offer light to earth that the ancient humans were closer to living things back then, making it was easier to elevate them with positive incentives. The job became harder with the invention of money and almost impossible with the proliferation of marketing. I am miserable reporting my time with this Scarface impersonator to the One, but It needs to know that he is not unique. He and those like him are not close to the living things of this world, or to anything remotely positive. Today’s headlines about thrill seeking billionaires blasting off of the planet toward phantom space sanctuaries proves my point that malicious aliens exist even those with human DNA. Well, I should back off the hyperbole and stop making excuses – so many of them these days.

I become one with shadows as I shove the Obama standee to the ground. Scarface pauses, lifts his arm and points to the black ceiling, yelling a verse I recognize from the popular chronicles of Jesus Christ called the bible.

‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.’

Gulping air, he stamps his jack booted foot on the cardboard head of the standee growling, “kill Obamacare.” This usual obscenity laden rant is routine, a wind up in preparation for the latest rally or golf game with Rudy, Junior, McConnell – any punching bag will do.

I take advantage of his distraction and slip out of the dungeon into the mellow, tropical sun. This earth is so amazing. I become delirious the closer I get to the trees, so miraculous. All darkness shimmers into brightness and I vow to try harder to get him outside, maybe an alligator pond might be an incentive.

Thursday, April 22

Waiting for Rain

Bee and Ants on Sneezeweed

 The winds rattle the roof tiles and shake the dust from the shaggy bark junipers. Dust and pollen coat the deck chairs and screens driving the no-see-ums inside.  Thunderstorms are predicted this evening. The new plants need the rain and its connection to cloud and air. I need to settle the dust and get some relief from itchy eyes and constant sneezing. Weather. Love it!

Tuesday, March 16

Little Cloud


 

"We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains."- Li Po

There is a special place I visit. I discovered it when I was just a child, maybe seven or eight years old and in all of the years that I have visited this place, it never changes.

It is a flat, jutting, red-rock shelf above a pasture where a glossy, black bull roamed. He was the lonely king of the long grass and cottonwoods, always smelling the creek water nearby and sometimes busting down the fence to drink and wallow in it when necessary.  Below the sandstone overlook, junipers and cypress host sparrows and finches competing for insects while watching for the shadows of hawks and eagles. The language of birds, their compulsion to sing is amazing to watch and hear, born of caution most likely.  Up through the trees, past quail and sometimes mule deer, the first slabs of rock appear. Lizards dance in the sun and black stink bugs meander. I've spent time watching this unselfconscious display until my own shadow falls on them and they become wary. 

Up on this mountain top, I feel clean wind, space and the weight of my own thoughts. Often, after a few minutes of silence, life compresses into long moments of mindlessness. That's when my eyes close and I feel the sun melt the last chunk of anxiety from my being and I sit with the mountain.

Saturday, March 6

Abandoned

Abandoned Blue Chair

Abandoned Desert Motel

Abandoned People

“Dreaming is not only an act of communication; it is also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination, a game that is a value in itself. Our dreams prove that to imagine - to dream about things that have not happened - is among mankind’s deepest needs. Herein lies the danger. If dreams were beautiful, they would quickly be forgotten.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

For a little less than a year, now, I've had dreams with a recurring theme: abandonment.  I call them pandemic dreams and most of them feature urban landscapes with office workers or groups of purposeful, busy people. I never can recall how the dreams begin and when I wake, these dreams are like a box of abandoned puzzle pieces, mementos of impossible and frustrating landscapes. 

I am driving on a downtown city street and pull into an underground parking garage of a high rise building. For some reason, I must hurry to an office area and either bypass the reception area or there isn't one. I can't find a person who is in charge or who will know why I'm there, so I wander from floor to floor ignored by everyone. I realize that I'm just an office drone, invisible, ubiquitous so I find an empty desk and search for something that I can use to appear busy. I wind up in the copy room which is always occupied and I collect discarded documents to take back to my desk. No one notices that I am an intruder and when a sharp-eyed worker walks by, I shake my papers and act like I'm delivering them somewhere.  I feel tense and apprehensive and unimportant.

Finally, the day ends. It's dark outside and when I leave with all the others, we go out a way that is not how I entered the building. I wind up outside, disoriented, and I realize that I either forgot my purse in my car or in the building so I don't have any identification or cell phone or money and I don't know anyone. 

At this point in my dreams, I either connect with some of the workers and wind up in a public place or house, frantic. Or, I walk in ever widening circles, avoiding danger, exhausted and fearful until I wake up. 

These dreams vary and I seldom remember them in logical sequence. The common theme is disturbing and after a few of these, I realize how much compassion I have unwittingly gained for displaced people or people suffering from dementia/alzheimers. To feel stranded, abandoned, and even worse, insignificant in real life because of a disfunctional family, a life threatening event, a disease, etc., must warp a person and cause terrible pain. We never know the story behind our masks of normality. Our world is inhabited by all kinds of complicated beings who deserve some kindness and care.