Ma changed the locks when i was 15, i am now 63, and that still hurts. She, however, is not responsible for my feelings, or my behavior - i am. It may be for this reason that she changed the locks; she may have wanted me to be responsible for her feelings. I asked her once what is the meaning of “home?” Her reply was “someplace you go and they can’t turn you away.” Her father was an itinerant miner. He was estranged from my grandmother for many years; my mother was periodically left with him for extended period, as was my uncle. At the end of my grandfather’s life he was taken back into the family home in Los Angeles where he died from cancer. My sense is that these events affected my mother deeply, along with many other equally confounding dynamics one might find in many homes on our planet. My idea of what constitutes home is complex, where what i really need to do is make it simple. One of the difficulties for me, is being welcome, without which i find it very difficult to feel that i belong. That is an irrational and largely useless strategy for making oneself to home. I can only imagine what it means to children whose homes have been bombed out from under them, witnessing their family members shredded into corpuscles. In a larger sense, we are all family and the only home we have is mother earth. We are not doing a very good job respecting where we came from - were our bones are supposed to come to rest. Rather than fighting about where we live, it might be a good time to re-evaluate how we live; what is our definition of home, and what it means to be a human being.
Ma is not, nor has she been a bad mother. She provided for herself and her family to the limits of her capacity; the struggle between her and myself must have been a lesson we both needed to understand. She is aged and nearing the end of her life on earth. I would be at her side, but the changed locks are of a different nature now - she is still a good mother doing the best that she knows how; i am at a loss for how to help her, it seems i’m at a loss to help most of those i wish to help. The irony is when there is a chance for me to help, like answering the door for the upper two floors where i live, i resist. I don’t mind when someone asks me for something, and i have an opportunity to say “yes” or “no.” But i find myself unwilling to have things taken from me, or expectations assigned to me, like “you live on the ground floor, you will answer the door.” That is cognitive dissonance running contrary to my instincts for happy living today - minimizing suffering and helping where i can. If i were truly a worldwide citizen, one would think there would be no limits to my willingness to help, though i find the following true as well: Bob Dylan - “try to make things better for someone, sometimes, you just end up making it a thousand times worse”. Over the years with composite families of my own, the idea of home has undergone various changes, from being willing to give up my life protecting my family, to solitary escapes from scabrous environments. Today, that which is suitable determines where i live; if i can work quietly without disturbance, it is suitable. As with most things, definition is all. But is there more; is there an intrinsic meaning to hearth and home, or is the essence more metaphysical, having something to do with the limits of our skin?
I don’t know, I do know many have striven over generations to lay down roots, which by some calculations is a measure of belonging. These same people have been driven from their communities by changing demographics, war and other calamities, and the trend toward upheaval is only going to rise with the tide - 40% of the planet’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the shoreline. Many of these communities are ancient, reaching back into the dawn of our human history - the roots run deep. I know in my own country the pace of change has inspired virulent fear, often fed by the same unscrupulous characters that would try to sell desert lots on the promise of California falling into the ocean. However in the United States, there are more vacant properties than there are homeless people. That circumstance describes a twisted system that is not out of kilter but intentionally flawed to the core. The problem is that the same mania for profit that glutted the housing stock has been exported as a business model to an amazing percentage of the world’s leaders who are emulating ‘merica’s shameful exploitation of the natural human instinct to want to be at home. I wonder how easy it would be to sell that bullshit, if our children were raised to see themselves as members of the human species rather than factions of waring tribes fighting for fewer and fewer resources? What would it take to convey such logic to larger and larger segments of our world¿ Education is no longer a viable conduit for promulgating wholesome citizens - the smart money is, and has been for a long, long time choking off the concept that people are valuable ingredients to a civilized world, rather we have been encouraged in some gladiatorial delusion that if one can excel enough at ______ fill in the blank, security will be provided. They don’t say by whom or how, but the careerist shills are reassuring in their zealous encouragement that with the correct combination of correct skills ________ fill in the blank, you will meet with rich success.
The truth is excellence is not expected, nor is it tolerated outside of an extremely narrow spectrum of accomplishment. That spectrum of accomplishment is entirely controlled by computer models of what will generate the maximum revenue stream to a smaller and smaller number of people. The days of any child in the United States believing s/he can grow up to become president ended with the birth of Barron Trump and the election of his father. Though it actually ended much earlier with the beginning of the “Industrial Revolution,” which was neither industrial nor revolutionary. The meaning of industrial was simply a perversion of “industry” which means - hard work. As to revolutionary, orgasm might be a more accurate term - The Industrial Orgasm. Prior to this juncture in history, snake oil salesman were marginalized hucksters spiking cod liver oil with sour mash, making enough scratch to get the next village drunk. But when revolutionary industrial empresarios got wind of how much snake oil could be manufactured by machine for next to nothing, the greed race was on. It has never been a question of if, but when the banksters would simply muscle the middle man out. Prior to the Industrial Orgasm, when a man received a home, or enough property to build on, hard work was an asset; today hard work is defined by the number of hours you can clock on the account to which you’re assigned - the battle cry is “work smarter, not harder.” There are pockets of entrepreneurial low hanging fruit left, but just as the snake oil salesman was subsumed by the empresario, who was then shouldered aside by the banker, excellence in the modern era is not well tolerated. Ask Aaron Swartz, all he wanted was to share digitized knowledge with as much of the human population as possible; his fatal mistake was not including a coin slot in his technology.
The world’s billionaires do not care, not one of them - to want to control a billion dollars does not describe a personality that cares for anything but its own ego. The problem for the billionaires is that collectively they are dumber than they are individually. Because of this anomalous social throwback to their fraternity heyday, they remain largely oblivious to the havoc they have wreaked being more concerned about the opinions within their well insulated cohort than aware of the consequences of egregious stupidity. While the balance of the population is having to become more and more resourceful and creative in their growth for literal survival within the world they were born, be that suburban Costa Mesa, or Ubud Bali. The inclination to resist the phenomenal pace of coming change will impair dynamic creativity for a time, and nationalist rivalries will erupt, but the temporary infusion of disaster cash will only remedy so much and fewer and fewer problems which the havoc created by the smaller and smaller, ever more identifiable portion of the population will be held accountable. “When the shit comes down, there will not be walls high enough to protect them” - Edward Colver. People want to cooperate, it is in their nature and when left to their devices they will build peaceful communities full of the human drama that characterizes our species. The extent of travel enjoyed today will be become evermore restricted for a variety of reasons, from ecological impact, to the cost of security necessary to shuttle the wealthy from compound to compound. Much like i had to reconcile my own behavior with its consequences about what i understand is home, so too will humanity have to come to terms with unrealistic greed and the role it has played in its own dislocation from what it had once believed to be home. The delusion that there is an app that can substitute for what it means to belong to one’s own world will collapse with the myth of home being where the heart is. The only home left to any of us is made up of the soil, water and air we have through our greed and cowardice allowed to be become polluted, possibly beyond repair. If we are serious about fighting for our homes we’d better enlarge our concept of where we belong - quickly.
lessness - a sonnet
I had a stuffed animal, a long time;
where it was, i was at home - home is gone.
finding my way back, has been a long climb.
made much richer by all that i have drawn.
It could be that work has become my home
- a place i cannot be turned away from,
i have fun, does that condemn me to roam?
- sounds odd, like marching to war to a drum¿
i like what i do, liked my animal;
don’t like war, but i like drums - like the beat.
I can’t play for shit, just not capable.
- everywhere might be home, t’ain’t all mama’s teet
if there is any truth to “less is more”
will having less get us back to the core?
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved