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Posts Tagged ‘human nature’

There is a well of surface-scraped-depth within me.

I know.

And maybe you too.

I need to know what gems lay deep, bound by body basalt; encased in black rock; kidney crystal. Clinging to crags. Affixed & sturdy.

Formations of luster; robust & ripe; uncomprehended in fullness.

And it worries me.

How to mine myself for precious bounty?

Am I made of softer stone? Might I chip?

What earthly instrument would act as chisel?

How much wonder, precision & intent is required for self-extraction.

To mother words.

Arrange them & categorize.

The placement in a great pantry of order, positioning strategic visions; moving over pink salt, second hand plates, glass jars, almond flour, the old orange juice press, wayward spices- to arrange enigmatic & even alien feelings that can use the generosity of air-time to dry upon the lacquered, shaded kitchen shelves still shieldable from light with manageable doors.

That can benefit from this. To breathe & to steady.

The place my private mind has kept sacred & mysterious, precisely where X marks the spot, though barely tended to- not having intended to gloss over them or feed the deterring, fleeting, faux shiny distracting forces; shielding fears of my own discoveries & the responsibility that comes from choking- one day- upon an throat full of undigested diamonds.

How do you do bounty?

We are each equipped with inherent, ancient farming techniques.

How to learn treasure.

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Soft breath came out in undulose roll, a serenity given to understanding incidences of stolen moments receding. Time time time, just a moment away.

All she ever wanted was a muse by her standards which were seemingly not set too high. It didn’t take much to ignite the visionary exacting that lay inside her, but love was indubitably, formidably, the key. The world could speed up for all it wanted, or creak slowly in orbit, if-to-when that one would enter stage left. Or right. Or come climbing down downy, silken spun, dream-fire-escapes and just come on in. The water is oh so fine.

Her inner workings were a scramble. Try she might, but the holes inside were waxing and waning with the tides and the moon. Her fits of full and lonely nipping at her heels just the same.

Sometimes the vibe was self-evident. A physically provable thing, probable thing, displayed in sights of messy hair, tired from tugging. Showed up in baggy eyes, bruised from booze. Achey muscles, self-induced over-workings, awaiting their holy massage.

Thank the greatest ones for her breath. The flowers were with gratitude. The trees felt younger for it. Where she could finally slow her roll and simply believe… just a moment away.

xo

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Phosphenes. That’s what they’re called. Seeing light without light entering from a source outside of ourselves. “A luminous image produced by mechanical stimulation of the retina, as by pressure applied to the eyeball by the finger when the lid is closed.” Or- you know, sitting bent over, or lazing dreamily and jamming your palms into your sockets. Your choice.

That was my first trip. I would lay for what seemed like hours in kid-years. Staring at rainbow pinpoints that would reliably scurry off once I would unsoften my focus. This I learned: to take in this self induced beauty, one must look ahead and not direct into the source. Those dots would always disappear before me if I got greedy and tried to look right at them. Don’t look at the amazement head on, but gaze ahead, knowing it’s around you, and absorb. 

And isn’t that the catch? Couldn’t this be the world’s most tragic metaphor? ~Babies first transcendant experience~ teaches that beauty is not ours to hold, but to be in, without attachment. It all keeps moving… Tragedy is a mere definition according to the beholder, sure, true. One can say at least there is beauty. At least we can retreat to our own minds and watch the show. Our own private viewing. Available at any time. No screaming children or lousy large popcorn to reckon with. Just the thin veil of splendid. Yes yes- your argument is fair.

Those phosphenes. Their gentle model. Proof that entertainment lies within. Proof that we are mere continuums of space, a float. Proof that we can’t know it all, beyond a few syllables fortunate enough to be strung together and a limiting capper of a definition. Those dots of light showing us the fluidity of artistry. No more manmade brightness, kids. Retreat and test. You know you want to. See your science sleeping with your spiritual. Bare witness to the bed where-which they meet and get freaky. But don’t try to figure it out.

phosphenes

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She came in late because that’s what she does best. Looking for an open chair before looking around at the people there. Walking in after the momentum was set in motion always made the grade school feelings resurface of trying to peep a spot to sit in the lunch room, carrying this goofy tray that must have been dipped in anti-cool spray, seeing that it always felt dorky, and wanting to look smooth and like she had friends- a place to be or go to of importance. She had them, it was just one of her little quirks. She pendulumed between the now and triggers of the old. It was her bit. Anyway, she had to settle before she could settle.

There were probably 45 people in that basement. One quarter of them set to speak at some point in the night in front of the rest of crowd, present. The literary types. The solo ones. The ones who came to listen, to glean inspiration, to be alone in a crowd. These people, being under the cover of night, posting up in a dark, dingy Portland basement in Old Town- pretty much optimal for this chiquita.

When you think about it, people are just balls of swirling habits and needs. Some have habits to be filled outside of themselves. Some have that artistic fever. The kind that wells up and demands release. This one- she had the latter. Her need for speed showed up in the likes of pen and ink. Leaving the house without a writing tool would be akin to leaving the house pants-less. But colder. And stupider. Sure.

So boom. Her ass on the stool. Her eyes keen on the speaker. A plain-looking middle-aged woman, spouting off some biz about dragons in the Victorian era or some-such has-been stuffy topic. The woman’s voice- pleasant enough, and for that she could be forgiven for the fact that the sweater she wore was the deadly and dreaded ”skin tone” color- a mistake that no white person should make again; that and it made her boobs look terribly boring. Burn all these items. Ok ok ok- also the fact that she was creating– so for the subject matter she could be forgiven. 5 Hail Marys’, ma.

Our girl momentarily cut the physical  vision off to illuminate the inward visual potentials. What could come to light from the contact high of these people, in this hole in the wall full of wayward history? Well, I’ll tell you one thing- if you ever wanted imagine a ghost pinching your chichones, now is your time.

“Write about us, mija. Tell your people sobre nuestra historia. Tell them there are witches everywhere. Brujas rojas, blancas, negras.”

Damn, she thought. I open up to tap in and some ghost dude’s got me reporting on some bullshit that’s played and noone’s trying to hear. Give me something juicier. Witches are outta season.  Sassy bitch.

Give me fodder about funny things we do, ghost. What do you see? Maybe you gotta get over yourself in the spirit world. You lingering beings take yourselves way to seriously. Give it up. And don’t climb on my head- this writer’s block is already killing. Give me some ESP or something.

Well that ghost had it. Ghosty middle fingers on blast and the haunting was over. Sitting erect, intent on the speaker, open to absorption; She waited. Mother fucking writers block. Assassinate the maker of this beast. Who coined the term was coconspirator. Take em’ out, Darwin. Right? Let’s do this. Open up the channels. Stupid spirits flying around. Permeating the corners and hallways of this whole damn block. This entire neck of the woods. Old fodder was all she had for the now. Boring like those long mound- upstage sweater titties. Waiting for the perks. Ready ready ready.

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Today I stomped the ground in careless play, noticed the reverb of hollow from below. Pounding above a bomb shelter, a tunnel, a tomb? Above all in absent awareness…

…Calling for a dig exceeds my jurisdiction but if I had the power, the earth would be pocketed in curiosity, and restored rapidly in vigilant remorse, for better or for worse.

I recall clearly as a child, a teacher telling class that the Native Americans we so romantically studied lived where our houses were. My house. A top ancient secrets. Those powerful beings who understood the tangibility of seasons, ran through crisp, blue corn fields, made with callused fingers- beads of dried piñon berries, lived nobly herding flocks, believing in coyote medicine…

I had the presence of mind to know that their reign extended beyond the small stretches of my yard. Most likely to at least the perimeter of my block, or ”la manzana”, as my pops called it. I came home that day to scour the ground and blacken my baby nails in dreamy hopes of turquoise treasures, dulled arrowhead, bird bones. Nothing ever came of these missions. Time would give way to something shiny, some tinsel or so, leading my excavation, my excursion- to press on in whispered hope.

bow arrow

During the time of year where the leaves find themselves tossing in tiny tornadoes, and the cold makes scarlet our cheeks, I will be greeted by the painfully beautiful scent of burning cedar. Instantly I transport to the vast expanse of my time living on the rez with the Dinéh people, an event that was lead by the hand of my earlier fascination and curiosity.

I breathe in and hold.

Smoke, providing a background where images dance and bob. Broken relics of poetry and dry dirt. Old woman of long braid and woven skirt. Counting sheep. Snapping sage brush. Being followed by a pack of loyal, rag tag dogs with each step. Awaking before dawn with purpose to ensure warmth by lighting the fire…
With that smell I am carried, and not a moment too soon.
I am living simply. I am living at peace. I am living with full intention. The red earth stretches for days and I revel in wonder about what tales are beneath.

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Oh to be at the helm of our own thoughts… Take a moment to picture where you might be if you exercised more control. Just a sec.

Tremendous power lies within us- often dormant, as we let the reigns slack in the name of trivial pursuits,  and also because it’s far easier and more immediately gratifying to be subject to whims outside of ourselves.

It’s been a reoccurring theme in my life lately- that of discipline. I am picking up on patterns of the hard-to-swallow-but-it’s-for-my-own-good variety. And all the antidote that is needed is that of ddddddiscipline. I can hardly even write it.

A coworker of mine showed my the video below called “The Marshmallow Project” which is catalytic for this here tiny entry. Basically the premise is that those who exercise their minds (and it literally is a work out- training our brain to be strong) and maintain control, have an advantage and live a more sound, steady life. I suppose it is obvious, but there are ground breaking developments in teaching techniques now that involve cultivating patience and restrain in students on an intrinsic level. Studies were conducted in the same of vien of this video in Stanford, where the subjects were followed loosely for 20 years, with results that showed that the children who were not in control of themselves and acted mostly on impulse were the ones who wind up addicts, unsuccessful, or just making unfavorable life choices. The very watered down version, but you get it.

So here’s the video, a song on discipline, and maybe a timely reminder that the world is your peach and the sense of urgency is an illusion, and that we got this.

*believe*

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There I was- flipping through a ragged, time-worn, cardboard box at my parent’s house. I gingerly sifted through yellowed and thinned pages, in my own time capsule, revisiting a fair amount of the two dimensional art of my youth. They kept so many of my creations. Occasionally I’ll wonder the purpose of keeping a diary other than to get the immediacy of pressures off my chest because I hardly think that there will be a day where I am driven to revisit all of my petty boy-riddled qualms of old. It seems, at least, that that’s the most of what my journal entries have seen over the years. But this- this was different. This was ART! Encapsulated. I understood the inability to dispose of it. Such richness. I totally had an eye for fashion and have apparently been designing clothes since I could pen myself a plausible idea. Lots of drawings were comprising sleep overs; quite likely an influence from every little girl’s treasured book Madeline. They were very big fun though. Yet another reason I’m glad to have the XX chromosome thing in place. Another common topic was of little girls puking. Yup- you read it right. Little girls puking. I was no stranger to belly aches- especially in the car (lo siento, padres) so I guess I just wanted to spread the love or at least normalize it so everyone got sick all the time too. Oh, yeah and kids are weird, sooo go figure.  BuT- the most common theme in my drawings? Homeless children.

I drew and drew and drew this topic in so very many capacities all throughout my growing up. Kids behind dumpsters, kids under bridges, under awnings, on corners, in the snow, with a dog, kids alone with signs, kids with parents, kids with questionable chaperone. Some of them were even throwing-up too…  A clear memory that I have is asking my mother why we couldn’t just take someone home with us. I thought if everyone in the city took somebody home the homelessness problem would be solved. Grown ups are so dense! Come on people, don’t you see?? And this of course was NYC circa 1980-1990’s, when the mental asylum Bellevue, was shut down and emptied onto the streets of Manhattan. I had vivid fantasies of setting up the extra room for our(?) homeless person and coming into the bathroom while they were obligingly in the shower, handing them a bag courteously,  and taking their smelly clothes in exchange for new, clean ones. Problems solved! Even as a 5 year old I guess I knew that one of the larger deterrents to my Adopt-A-Homeless-Person program was the stank factor. Needless to say this never manifested.

Many years later I would wind up tutoring homeless kids for a while. It was such a tremendous experience with so much variety that I couldn’t surmise it with one quick descriptive word. Ok- intense.  If I must. Bear with me- I’m building my “fretting for the homeless portfolio”.

I tried to tackle the problem from several different angles throughout the last ten years plus. At one point I worked diligently on an idea that I thought was rather brilliant. It stemmed from talking to people living on the streets that seemed unmotivated to find work. After all, it’s hard enough to find something when you’re clean and showered, let alone educated. My idea was to hook up seasonal farm work opportunities to homeless shelters, and have houses of worship do their good deeds by providing ride shares to the people. Flawlessish? I called so many freakin’ farms that did not appreciate the thought of a bunch of hobos smashing their berries or sleeping in their corn or whatever. Did everyone on the other end of the line read Grapes of Wrath? Sheesh. And to boot, I couldn’t find any churches, synagogues or mosques to do the driving. Foiled.

My fascination with homeless (housing disabled?) waxed and grew and on the side I kept a notebook full of years worth of spontaneous interviews with street dwelling folk. I wanted their stories. Badly. Occasionally I would set out with the intention of conducting the interviews, sometimes I would see someone too interesting pass up. (I told you- my curiosity might just be the death of me some day. Please play “Blaze of Glory” at my funeral. I’m not kidding. I’m working up to earning it but no, I’m not trying to die anytime soon.) I had a long list of questions and my spiel was to go up and ask if they were hungry and I could buy them some lunch or a cup of coffee in exchange for some question answering. The notebook, I regret to say, is sadly long gone, lost to the same sea that claims matching socks, sunglasses,  and bus transfers, but some of the questions that I had in there went something like this:

*Where did you grow up?  * What was your family like?  * When did you start living on the streets?  *Is it scary?  * Do you get assistance?  * Do you want to live in a house/ apt some day? * Drug related questions. * Saftey related questions * Adventure related inquiry * Favorite stories?…

This is a small sampling. The questions were very subject to change, depending on the person I was asking and their openness and willingness to divulge, naturally.

I’ll tell you though, boy have I heard some shit!

There is one that stands out above the rest though. I was interviewing this guy, a mid forty’s man originally from an upper-middle class home in the suburbs of NJ. Born to religious parents. Happy childhood. Good relationships with brothers and sisters. He liked partying a little too much and got turned on to heroin. He’d always been the rebel in the family; the black sheep. He’d been living on the streets of several states for well over two decades by the time I met him. He seemed happy to tell his story. He seemed so sound. Peaceful. I asked him if he wanted to be off of the streets and his response was, and I remember it so clearly: “Man, you people feel bad for us out here, but we feel bad for you! Most of us don’t want those responsibilities that you have. There’s too much to do. A house, a car, bills, paperwork. Responsibilities. They are overwhelming. Yeah, it can be dangerous, but we don’t want what you got. I believe in God. And out here- ain’t nothing between me and God.

Take that in.

The concept of the interviews originated not just to satisfy my own forever’s-worth of curiosity. It was to serve as a bridge. Long ago I recognized people’s limited abilities to care for something/ someone at a distance. We tend to favor what and who we know. Throw another sad sap’s face into the world and if the public at large doesn’t recognize it, it’s easier to walk on by. Walk by a face on the street of someone who was in your past, who you know in a more intimate way- perhaps a friend’s father, an old neighbor, a former student, and things change. There is a sense of ownership and most of us have a built in mechanism to care for those we know. I felt that if we had people’s stories and could actually personalize them, find them relatable, then people would have more compassion and vested interest in getting people help that wanted and needed it.

So I ran off to get a sharpie and some name tags. What’s she doing now? I had a new experiment in mind. If we bore name tags there would be a missing piece of the lacking reliability solved. Like “Oh! Your name is Joey? That was my grandpa’s, name and he was really influential in my life. I love guys named Joey.” Etc. So on the name tags went the name, because knowing someone’s name is personal and pretty undeniably humanizing. Then three random things. 1. Favorite band 2. A place I’ve traveled 3. What I love. Really, it could’ve been anything. The objective was to show the public the humanity of people, as it’s so easily dismissed or ignored in our world where people are so overstimulated and walled.

I resolved to wear a name tag for a week straight to see the effects and how people might approach me and how it would change dynamics. I had visions of grandeur!

Well, I’m embarrassed to say that I wound up getting irritated with the receptivity, especially considering that I was fresh out of a multi-year relationship and going out a lot and was on one, so having my name on blast was putting me out there to a general crowd that I didn’t want all up in my business. I tried to maintain it throughout the day time instead, but I was working in a school and it wasn’t the right place either. Eventually I lost interest because my life style at the time didn’t lend itself to the particular vision I had hoped for.

Do know that I have not given up on my idea of being a liaison/catalyst for bridging the worlds. I actually still quite fancy the idea of name tag personification. Perhaps I will conduct this experiment in more refined ways and pick my project back up again. Like only do it in certain areas of the city while doing specific activities. And get some new hobos on board…?

I will do it! I’ll do it for the people sitting under awnings tonight, getting splashed by the cold rain. And I’ll do it for that little, barfy, concerned drawer me inside.

Back on the grind, baby.

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