“The ‘what should be’ never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no ‘what should be,’ there is only what is.” - Lenny Bruce
I am struck by the irony that i’ve lived in a time when the fable of “the sky is falling” actually has foundation in reality, and there is no boy crying wolf to be found. Many will still maintain what they declare is the sole truth of existence, but anymore i am finding fewer and fewer with questions about how exactly we have gotten into this painter’s corner we face. My drawing of Maria Sabina has become more of a refuge than any loving fantasy about the many beautiful women i have drawn these past few years. I am at a lost to explain why. When young, i was quite inquisitive about the parallel universe Sra. Sabina introduced to the many unscrupulous personalities riding the crest of post WW11 optimism. Near as i can tell, she had a fundamental reservation about why these characters were searching for god, rather than using what was for her, a medicine with which to heal. It is this misalignment of the fundamentals which seems to have a role in our current predicament - more irony that we are about to be anonymously incinerated by zealots at the behest of “their” god. I don’t know what god is or even whether i believe. I do believe there is good reason that the wisest of teachings stopped short of defining such mystical proportions. Some descriptions i like are: the holiest prayer of the holiest sage barely touches the foot of god; the peace pipe is used to tickle the nose of god; “god is the inpenetrable.” - Albert Einstein. The sad truth is if we are not god, then there is no god. The whole notion of adhering to some prescription for divinity is fraught with illogic. One is sanctified or one is not, how could it be otherwise. To believe if one only did this (fill in the blank__________) then one would be holy begs the question - what does the this refer to¿ Who is to say god does not want us all to do exactly what we are doing and thereby put an end to our species so that a more benign, less excoriating organism might take root on our magic orb and perhaps know peace, or that that hardy cockroach isn’t actually godhead who has allowed our species to congeal onto this current corrosive precipice simply out of boredom from having survived so long on the third rock from the sun?
Nor am i averse to the tenants of decency and wisdom found in all the scriptures which i guess makes me an Omnist - an omnist without a phone. I do not have much faith in the church of technology as it is, too much driven by the profiteers in our midst. In any exchange the one taking does not hold nearly as much fascination for me as the one giving, be that money, love or hate; but pound for pound it is that special breed of life that gives of oneself that completely intrigues me. This morning i had a funny black butterfly land momentarily on my tobacco smudged fingertips, i think i was as nearly touched by this as the text exchange i had with my Nepali love interest, both being miraculous in vastly different and implausible ways. As a re-reformed non-smoker the image of being touched by an ineffably delicate mariposa exacerbates my conflict about smoking, but confirms there are no condemned amongst us, only tense people. I only wish that i had within me a way to have given more to this winged creature who brightened my morning the same as i would hope to have with my young Nepali maiden. I do not know much about what is holy, but i’m fairly certain love is at the core, and if it is not - i know from personal experience love is a damn sight more fun than hate. Who doesn’t want to have fun; so just how does one go about loving? From what little i know, it begins by not hating which
is a more complex concept than i had imagined when i first began my quest for unconditional love. If love is the absence of hate, also defined in Hindu scripture as “aversion,” what am i to do about all that to which i am averse - war, greed, cruelty? Yet these are concepts and definitions as much subject to the distortions of charlatans and usurpations of the unscrupulous, and as much a part of my own character as my hope for human survival. Is it simply a case of integration and acceptance of our own foibles? Could it be we might all be saved by admitting to our indecencies; was President Jimmy Carter truly the last leader of the free world when he copped to having “lust in his heart¿” This is where it gets dicey, how will that play out when i explain to my chaste maiden of the Himalayas that i am as struck by her beauty as her mind? Do i want to evaluate what i share with anyone predicated on how i imagine it will be received - that smacks of a level of manipulation for which i’m not interested, though i know well enough how it works, or at least well enough to feel it when it’s coming at me.
You see, fucking aversion - my own, and i’m swimming in it. Maybe that’s what’s really meant by water off a duck’s back. Do any of us have any real choice about what we are going to be? I choose love, because hate is tedious and foolish, while all of the best times in my life have been a direct result of love, including marriages, divorce/lessons, those christmases i compare to others, and most especially all of those people whose touch allowed me to more fully appreciate an itinerant mariposa in a foreign country. Can we make mariposas do anything, much less give love¿ That’s about as stupid as believing i have any control over the feelings of a young mountain maid. What little control i possess is personal and currently being mocked by my fantasy about smoking 6 cigarettes a day. However, i have learned something about being happy; i have found if i am patient with myself and allow for the time it takes to depict an image i enjoy eventually something emerges that is oftentimes worth the struggle. If that is called art, so be it. Is that what it means to “be” - to look out over the horizon of possible choices and to gravitate toward that which seems to feel right¿ If so, what is the criteria one uses to define “right”? Would that be some magical result of our incessant socialization by parents, friends or ostensible rulers of the universe¿ I would not be the person i am without a measure of input from the world, yet the deeper i get into the miasma of our world and the further i am able to plumb the depths of my own darkness, the more i wonder whether choice is part of the equation at all. I can discipline myself until i am blue in the face, but that does not seem to affect the heart of any love interest i’ve ever known. I am beginning to doubt the conceit of any manner of efficacy knowing how diabolical my fears can be. What is left upon which we might base our decisions - the will of the universe? If this is so, we are fucked big time. What is it Einstein said - “God does not play dice with the universe.” So we must have been betrayed by faith and its shills, our families are bloodied and broken, the money lenders are laughing at Jesus, and our mother’s womb - the oceans have become a piss-pot for the petrochemical concerns. Maybe Kojak was really on the trail, “who loves you, baby”?
What i have difficulty abandoning is the fight, not that gory bloodbath born of revenge for real or imagined offenses, but that Herculean effort to make one more line, to find one more flower . . . to feel one more love again. Is it really more like Jung’s quote “Where love rules there is no will to power, and where power predominates, there love is lacking”¿ I am convinced there is not fuck all i can do about my demise - will or no will, so all those fucking vendors peddling that pig-in-poke of everlasting anything are about as welcome at my table as my last wife, bless her heart. Besides, what exactly is there left for me to be so all fired willful about¿ Do i make a full court press and act on my instinct to run that shy young thing to ground and subject her to my love fantasies dressed as romance? No, but that doesn’t mean i can’t send love her way because i admire her style, and want to reinforce her very understandable awareness of her allure. I’m not sure i have enough soul left to be mortally wounded as i have been, whether or not my misery was self imposed. I do know that the fantasy of any perfect anything is worthless and vain. We are squirming piles of biomass with a short shelf life, but we are also imbued with the capacity for self-awareness that permits us to question our very most sacred cows - love, family, pride, humility and faith. Could it be this doubt is our best friend. Lao Tzu says “make self confidence your best friend” which i also prefer, but if i had to have anything riding shotgun, i’d prefer a skeptic to some of the arrogant pricks i’ve come across in my trek through life. Still in all, if i have to be something, i would rather be myself, for it seems one has very little choice about not being, unless of course one is a suicide afficionado; however this vocation comes with a much shorter shelf life than those who persist in puzzling the mystery, or even those for whom it has never occurred to entertain a question.
“Now that you know who you are, what are you going to be” - McCartney/Lennon.
Ah . . that sweet myopia of youth; I have said that i was many things during my life behind that fucking mask of ego, and now all i can say is thank god for the stranger who never told me no, that shaggy shambling beast haunting the caverns of my wounded heart quietly healing each and every self-inflicted wound. Wounds which while attributed to every avatar to whom i’ve ever given up the reigns, but who also ultimately disappointed and betrayed me, often without ever having known of their blunder. There is no one on the planet who can ever be for you what you are for yourself, so for god’s sake, or tobacco’s sake or even the sake of Sra. Maria Sabina’s sainted memory, be kind to yourself because there is no one who can ever do it for you, not even if they could crawl into your skin and shake hands with whichever agent of the ego answering the door at the time. But remember this, when you are unable to recognize the person in front of you as asking, demanding or begging by whatever behaviors they command for whatever it is which may result in your feeling assaulted, overwhelmed, insulted or loved is likely related to that same part of yourself which only you can know, otherwise you have likely lived a pretty empty existence. We are a single species and each of is simply that reflection of the other which through the lens of our experience we are able to understand about the other. The more you can hear what others know and feel, will reflect your efforts to see into your own heart and to know why and how you do whatever it is that makes you who you are. The exceptions are those lacking empathy for other and who while able to conceive emotion have no internal register - the ciphers amongst us now commanding, and not surprisingly inculcating the emergent Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology with the same inability for awareness and compassion toward human suffering that has resulted in the current profit driven distribution of our world’s dwindling and increasingly corrupted resources by using power over the weak to control through force and fear - in other words our current world leaders. If you wish to continue to be whatever it is you have found suits your unique capacities and desires, i would suggest you include a way to help others do the same - to be whatever it is they want. I choose to be happy because it improves my odds of finding like minded others, like you.
not to be - the sonnet
i was raised not to be, but to become-
a loving well-intentioned oversight.
but helps some believe that sweet kid’s a bum.
Is that from only seeing what’s in the light.
it’s possible to not be what you are
but the effort is great, and not worthwhile.
maybe for a while, but you won’t get far.
except maybe to amass a great pile.
of what - remains the question no one asks
why’s that - could be easier than asking.
our work world makes little room for more tasks
except those that feed the greed of our king.
still and all i’ll never stop not to be
what i am, just to be’n another tree
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved