The Great Escape – Part Twelve
Even this morning, after a full eight or nine hours of sleep, I have not overcome the miserable writing I produced yesterday. How could I have brought such suffering into the world. I know, I Know, “Relax, relax, they’re just words!” you say, “Look at all the political advertisements on the net! Listen to what married people say to one another when they get into a big row. Let it go! For Crisake don’t go into a funk over it. Just erase then if they bother you so much.”
“ERASE THEM!”, I answer, “ARE YOU KIDDING! THEY’RE BRILLLIANT! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!”
Not really, of course, but one must defend his or her own misery. Misery is precious. We need our misery. We were meant to suffer. That’s what we were born for. Without suffering, life would be just one, long, boring, sappy affair. Suffering brings passion into our lives! Why do you think drama ia such a popular medium in television programing? Maybe my misery isn’t really brilliant, but it’s mine. Now I’m going to keep it and not even show it to you because you might rip it up or something! This is MY pity party and I’ll suffer if I want to!
But if you asked me nicely, respectfully, I would show you those pages, but, for now, I’m not going to post them on the internet. They’re private, nothing out of the ordinary mind you, just a lot of whinning about things I’m guilty of, kickin’ myself in the ass, regreting the suffering I’ve caused people I have loved and do love through neglect or worse. Karma I have created in my life that is now almost too painful to remember.
I suspect we all have that. Show me someone over the age of two who hasn’t done something they wish they hadn’t done. Life is like that. People don’t want to hear the details either. Maybe that’s why we have fiction. It’s safer from that distance. Not so real. We humans, collectively, have done some awful things.
Ever since Adam and Eve tasted that danged apple, the fruit of knowledge. Knowldge of good and evil. Duality, we have suffered for it.
Clive told me yesterday, “I go to the store and I buy an apple and then I put it in the refrigerator. And I will never taste that apple. It will never touch my lips. It will just sit there until it rots, and then I will throw it out! I shall remain on the path of righteousness!”
…..and this is from a guy that sometimes suffers from bouts of depression!
To Be Continued……
The Great Escape – Part Eleven
Of course, that’s what we are, a river, flowing through, along, the path of time. And that path, that course, that river bed is strewn with rocks, obstacles, all manner of things that can cause us to suffer or simply slow us down. We, you, me, they, all of it, all of existence is the flowing river. It’s all energy, because that’s we are, flowing energy. We are flow-ers, flowing, flow-er children. Around and around and around it goes, river to sea to cloud to raindrop to stream to river. Round and round we go.
The flow was so slow
that I wanted to know
just why I was feeling so down.
It hadn’t rained for days
and I was in kind of daze.
The heat will do that you know,
There had been a big drought
And we’d had quite a bout
of sluggishness, indolence and sloth
We drifted for days
in a somnombulent haze,
a murkey, lugubrious broth.
I looked down and thought,
well now, look at that rock.
That must be what’s causing the trouble.
If it was moved to the right,
or moved to the left,
our flow would almost be double.
It was only a little one
wedged ‘tween two big stones.
Surely not much of a hinderance.
For a river like us
to push us and toss,
to unplug such a tiny encumberance.
So we pushed and shoved
until finally it budged
just a hair, just slightly akimbo.
Well, the trickle increased,
it was better, at least
but it still, was it worth all the trouble?
So then we laid down,
sort of puddled around,
for our effort had been quite deteriorate.
It had increased our flow rate,
and we’d opened the floodgate,
but still we continued to stagnate.
But in our dilerium
we had failed to notice some
clouds that had gone beyond cirrus.
It started to pour
like never before.
The situation became quite delireous.
Our slough of despond
had become quite a pond,
and was growing with each drop that fell.
There was thunder and lightning,
It was all very enlightning,
as our edges continued to swell.
The crack ‘tween the rocks
that the pebble had blocked
had widened into a canyon.
We tumbled and rolled
and bubbled and roiled,
then shot through it, as if from a cannon.
The ride was so frightening
the crashing and shatterting
into billions of tiny small droplets
We soared and we plummeted
dove and spummated,
until finally, we became quite exhausted.
We rode to the sea,
the you and the me,
it was there that we all then engathered.
In the warmth of our bed
We giggled and said,
Have we ever been so enraptured?
The Great Escape – Part Ten
……..and then there was that time, it was in the spring I believe. You know how undependable memory is. How time changes everything. There were still patches of snow on the ground and the old mining and logging road was muddy in places.
It was still kind of cold, but seemed gloriously warm after what we were coming out of. Winter that is. The pipes had unfrozen. It was morning, I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, it was a sunny day. A beautiful sunny day. We were in the Siskiyou Mountains on Althouse Creek, walking. Just walking. That’s all, just walking. Not talking at all.
We didn’t have any idea what was going to happen next, all the changes we would be going through. Permanence was not something we had sought or thought about yet. We were still so very young. We didn’t know that a year later bulldozers would come and obliterate any trace of our existence there, or our tenuous, experimental family would tear asunder, divided from within, or that it would reform into smaller circles, because love never dies. It just sleeps sometimes.
But the old ghost mining town of Browntown, once called Tigertown, was still standing and very much alive. It had no electricity, but it was electrified.
Anyways, I remember we were walking up the windy road and it was such a beautiful day, full of newness and beginnings. We had just spent our first winter in the mountians and we were feeling good. We would soon be living the summer of our lives. Later we would discover that it was henseforth, from that point, that all our lives would flow. At least it was that way for me. You’d have to ask the others to be sure. It was for Chuck too. We’ve talked about it many times. Chuck called it a school, and we learned more about life in that one year than all our years in public school. It felt like a lifetime.
We were walking, just walking, neither slow nor fast, up to where the bridge crossed the creek, up through the dark, wet, dripping fir and pine and madrone and oak trees. I don’t know who I was walking with but it was someone.. Funny that that fact, not knowing, doesn’t discomfort me at all, that it actually echos our state of mind at the time because we were so OPEN. We didn’t know anything then either. We were all so full of possibilies, and we were oblivious to any kind of suffering or loss.
We just stopped there and looked down into that springtime, roiling, tumult of rushing water. I can still feel water spray on my face and hear the thunder of it echoing in my ears, and I just stood there looking into it. Just looking into it. IN TO IT! I felt so incredibly high and I wasn’t stoned, not stoned at all. It was so beautiful. So wonderous. So so awsome, I felt as if I had stepped into some alternate universe, but it was still this one all right. It was just this amazing, totally unexplicable thing!
I don’t remember walking back or even if we did walk back. Maybe we just floated through the air, and then I was up in my funky little attic room above the double barrel woodstove, cozy and warm again and I wrote this poem. I’m sorry if it doesn’t quite catch it, that experience, but it is what it is, and here it is, resurected after all thse years:
Snow that cannot say they,
water that cannot say we
as changes come,
Come down to the river,
come down too!
It’s going so fast,
no one can see where it’s going.
“He’s trying to damn it up,
but it still flows.”
The big stones never move,
could never confine a river,
it just flows through, around,
To be continued………..
Wings Beating Across The Sky
The garden was watered this morning,
The body hydrated and fed.
There is no particular reason for this,
It has just become so.
The sun has crested the trees on the hillside.
Warmth spreads across the ground.
Long ago it was night,
And wings were beating across the sky.
There was no particular reason for this,
It was nothing but a kiss.
A heart was beating in that dream
And that heart is beating still.
There is no particular reason for this
It has just become so.
In The Light Of My Being
Insects, the most beautiful butterflies,
particles of dust and ash and pollen,
the exhaust of machines and vehicles,
swimming in sunlight
and reflecting all that energy,
all that exuberance,
the pulse of creation
beating in each feather and wing
and leaf and fibril and molecule,
so beautiful, so beautiful,
dancing, dancing with me
in so much joy,
in the air of my breath,
in the sight of my eyes,
in the beat of my heart,
in the light of my being.
Those First Words
Those innocent and discontent words that precede all discovery,
All learning, exploration, experimentation and invention,
Yet serve as caution and warning to stand alert
To all those venturing into unexplored territories,
Those words that sang on the lips of every hero and heroine
That’s gone before, that goes forth now or will go tomorrow,
Those words that have launched thousands of ships bearing.
The seekers of truth and God and love and understanding,
Those words of admission,
Those words of despair,
Those words that invoke shame and blame,
The mark of stupidity and ignorance,
Those words without guile, without deceit or pretention,
Those words that are the answer unasked for,
Those most honest words of humility,
The words of the meek,
Those words that precede all others,
That open the doors of eyes and ears, hearts and minds
to the sacred, the divine, to love,
The most precious, most feared words of all,
That we must return to again and again,
“I don’t know”.
Ram Dass is right. As soon as my illusion of seperatness is threatened, here comes my ego to reinforce it. This is war, damn it! And back into battle we go… How do I get out of this trap? What is my writing but grasped thoughts, plucked on their way through from the front door and out the back door? Certainly nothing worth defending. Others have written about this stuff far more eloquently than I. What do I have to offer except my personal, seperate, point of view? And then, I get upset when it seems a tad egotistical. Like it’s not keeping up appearences or something, it’s not as I expect it should be.
As I understand it, Ram Dass is saying in his piece on Karma Yoga, that for it to be dharma, It has to be done with no sense of self and no reward in mind. That basically, I need to write it without thought of some future benifit to myself and just let it happen, flow or whatever because that’s what’s appropriate to happen without ever taking credit or possession of the act. In other words, to give it up. Keep writing, but surrender it imediately, not mine to hold onto. Ok. so here it is. just so much dross for the fire. I give it to the universe. No more worrying about feedback, praise and all that. Just give it up to the winds of fate.
But how do I get from writing or saying this to the reality of it, to it really being so? How do I get it to be more than just some much hot air wafting through the window?
And then I think, Well, what am I but a passing breeze?, and you know, what if all there is is merely ego. What if there is is only that, then so what? Just this breeze wafting through the window of time. But, of course, ego wants it to be more than that. Ego wants to be important. Ego wants respect. Ego wants a big comfortable house. Ego wants more. Ego will cling to itself as long as it can because that’s the only existence it knows. Ego is our seperateness. You can’t stop that. The illusion of seperatness is still going to be there. So what is left to do but give up trying to change it. Accept it for what it is, an illusion. Give it up. It’s just a part of the universe. It’s just phenomenon. It’s just seperateness.
And this is what actually happens when we try to give up our seperateness. In meditation and in writing for me, I reach this place where everything is egual. Nothing is better or worse or more important than anything else, and at that moment, I love it all. I get this wonderful feeling and I want to hold on to that, but I know that’s not really possible to hold onto it. So then I go for a walk and all this stuff pops up. I see all these bad things happening. Problems with the bank screwing with my money that I need to pay my debts and to live on. Hurtful things, you know, and I say “Oh no! Not that! I can’t love that!”, and I’m right back where I started. And I’m suffering, panicing really. I tried calling my bank in Idaho to try to straighten out the problem a dozen times and none of the calls went through. All these old fears of mine rise to the surface and I retreated.. So I go to where I am loved and I order another beer and laugh and enjoy the company of friends in this safe place until I’m quite drunk, and then I walk out and I see someone I like and want to hug him and he waves me off, “I don’t mind talking with you when your sober”, he says…….. and I head for the bus and go home to lick my wounds and suffer some more. Because my desire to be free of ego has set up these expectations and they were not met and now I’m paying the price. Do you see the cycle here, he pattern? I ask myself? How does one learn to love suffering, this Veil of Tears? Just let it be? Give a good laugh at all this foolishness?
That was yesterday. This morning I tried calling the bank in Idaho and got through to the manager who is also a friend. She had gotten the e-mail and faxed information I had sent yesterday, and their phones were down all day yesterday which was why none of my calls went through. She was on it as soon as she saw the e-mail and had already taken steps to fix the problem. I may have to wait a few more days for my money is all. I talked to the guy I had promised to pay yesterday and he is fine with waiting. I gave him most of what was in my wallet and thanked him. I would rather be broke myself than allow him to be broke. I’ll be fine. What a relief.
Ok ego, I’m done messing with you. You’re just a dumb illusion, I know that, but I accept that you and I are not seperate…
A Man of the Cloth…..by Tom Newbill
The time was 1964 and the place was Huntington Beach, California. We were cruisin’ in Bob Curley’s car, a mint old 1950 Hudson Commodore four door. Bob was older than us by about 10 years and we were just turning 21. He was a transplant from a very tiny little town in the Midwest and one of those beautiful souls who was a great listener, had a relaxed smile, a gentle laugh, never in a hurry, never angry…you know…strange. His employment portfolio was a thick as a bible and at the time he made a living as a bartender, a beat poet, an astrologer and a man of the cloth, you know…a minister. His relationship with the “Big Fellah” seemed to give him a divine provenance or so it seemed and we always felt safe with him, especially when he wore that little white collar thingy around his neck and a black sport coat, even when he bar-tended…I mean come on, who’s gonna mess with a pastor, right?
To put things in perspective, this was the early 60’s and pot was considered a hard drug and one could get a year in the Orange Co. jail for an ounce of pot. That said, the five of us, after a gallon of wine, at 3 am, decided we had to smoke some. Bob had the only readily available pad but he lived in an apartment building. The thought of us all gowed up, smoking pot late at night in an apartment building, although a plausible concept to a wino, was abandoned in favor of us all piling into Bob’s Hudson and driving around so as not to attract attention. What could possibly go wrong? Well, we were as high as the moon when Bob noticed he was almost out of gas. We drove down the Pacific Coast High-way [no pun intended] until we found an all night gas station, all by itself, a light in the dark out near the edge of town, by the oil fields.
We pulled in and the attendant came out. Bob cracked the window and said fill’r up and handed him a $5 bill. Apparently the fact that it looked like we had just put out a fire in the back seat went completely unnoticed by us but not the attendant, nor the telltale sweet pungent odor. He started the gas pump and left to go inside at which time he promptly called the police. He brought us the change just about the time a patrol car roared up from the side street, skipped the curb, wobbled over and screeched to a stop, blocking the front of the Hudson. An angry cop jumped out of the car and raced over to the drivers side, ripped the door open and screamed…WHAT’S YOUR NAME????
As smoke poured out of the car like a fog machine at a rock concert, Bob stammered…B…B…Bob….Bob Curley and then… out of the clear blue…he said…and I’m from Rosebud, South Dakota. Time seemed to stand still…the cops shoulders relaxed a little and his pursed lips parted slightly, his squinty eyes slowly opened wide. He then squatted a little and softly said….”I’m from Rosebud South Dakota!” The two of them were temporarily mesmerized as they stared at each other with that “can you recognize me in my 6th grade class picture” kind of look.
Meanwhile, in the back seat, I started getting dizzy. All I remembered was that we had enough pot to get life without parole. My whole life began flashing before my eyes like a deck of cards being shuffled and my heart was pounding like a Harley Davidson motorcycle at a stop light. I thought, well, there goes my dream of being a bank teller….Everything was moving slowly…words sounded like when you slowed down a 78 record player to 331/3….I was starting to black out when suddenly I realized … we were moving… WE’RE MOVING?…What the??? Who the???
The Hudson slipped out onto the highway, turned right and slowly purred its way north, not a car in sight. I looked back over my shoulder as if in a dream, the station slowly disappearing in the night fog. The cop was leaning up against his car…he waved.
When I was young
I never thought I would be old.
It wasn’t real to me.
I imagined kindly grandmothers and grandfathers
in rocking chairs on porches or in nursing homes.
telling exagerated stories about the Great Depression
when nobody had nothin’,
or the old country before anyone even had a radio,
exactly as I saw the old people I knew.
I hadn’t imagined yet that it would be different,
that it would be me. How could I?
I didn’t know me now then.
I didn’t realize how age humbles us,
though it was always there to see.
Now, I look back and I can’t imagine being young,
It’s just not real to me, like a faded photograph
I’ve been trying to unload.
I’ll give to anyone who will take it.
because it’s just too damned heavy
and it’s too hard to hold onto,
and I don’t need it anymore,
and really, it’s all just this stuff that happened,
like things have always happened,
like that falling star out over the ocean last night.
Now that was real…..and so beautiful……
and I missed it.
RR 1/19/16 – Barra