Sunday, June 2, 2013

From Yippie to Equine Midwife...And Back

Yippie Ki Ya....and Where in
the Hell did I Leave My Armor?
                    "Other wars with unseen casualties litter the landscape of societies cloaked in the hard veil of contradiction -- that myopic dance of the uninformed, unwilling and ultimately unknowing.  Sanctuary is not always a cradle for the frightened and the weak.  All too often it is the untended grave of an inconvenient truth."                          

 ♫“Come gather ‘round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone.

If your time to you

Is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone,

For the times they are a changin’

                                                                                                      ©Bob Dylan, 1963

     But did they, Bob?

From here...
I have often wondered how the roots of radicalism manifest themselves in the mind of a child.  For it is here, in the dry, undeveloped sand lot of the child's brain -- the dry deserts of future knowledge, where such a seed first gains nourishment.  An awakening really...the immature mind seeking to grow between the rows of neatly planted crops.  And like the destiny of most weeds; those armies of conformity: order...efficiency -- seek to quickly stamp you out.  But what these mighty opponents fail to consider is that this famine of the imagination merely fills the ravished belly of resistance; for like the roots, stalks and leaves that follow a seed's first exposure to light...thought follows the unbroken rules of an evolutionary process.  Sure, we are exiled to the outskirts of Concordia;  branded, ridiculed, belittled...beaten, robbed of our seat at the table.  But we stand erect.  Straighter than most, ours eyes only willing to offer a singular, rather unremarkable allegiance:  to a sometimes compromised truth.  The only one we truly own.   
"Then, quite suddenly, we discover the true value of the horse -- its speed -- and we gallop away, far from the clicking shutters, far from the angry voices.  And for a brief, incredible moment, we are free!"   
And for the first time perhaps...we sit among friends.
But the constant, almost nagging questions remain unanswered.  For once you have taken the radical's path...the high road of conscience; felt the hot, vile breath of conformity on your skin...seen the hate in the red eyes of those who fear your very presence, you are doomed and blessed to live among the happy malcontents of the fringe.  For you can never shed your beliefs as simply as a snake discards its old skin.  For lurking behind you, day and night, relentlessly -- the Army of Hippocrites...the soul stealer's, the money launderers...the panderers of an all-consuming gluttony.  And they are madly driven to close the distance behind you, to suffocate the truth in your presence, push the necessary reckoning demanded by a mass hysteria, the spoiled meat and broth that is the sustenance of all such angry mobs.           
"History is littered with the bones of the arrogant and self-righteous.  How will the present be remembered by the future, once we become the past?" 
To here...
An important question.  Perhaps it is each individual's present actions that determine the answers for another    traveler's future.  In my case, I discovered human cruelty at an early age.  I embraced it, savored its predictability...discarded it like a ragged and filthy sock.  For I had seen, touched and tasted the blood of anger.  The open wound that was a compassionate heart; bled dry, pooled around the bare feet of my innocence.  Two roads appeared to me in those moments of trial:  one high, one low.  Each with advantages unique for a child emerging from a seemingly endless forest of rain and fog.  I took the high, my younger brother traveled the low.  He is dead by his own choices; I alive by mine.  There is no judgement in that sentence, merely the circumstances inherent to all such decisions.  Yes, at times they are the very last one you will ever make.
It is always possible to re-trace the historical steps in one's life, but not always the emotions accompanying them.  Especially when your bag carries few non cognitive tools -- fear, anger perhaps....most others missing or somehow dishonest in a way you cannot readily identify.  Sure, you can say the words, but the mind cringes at the disclosure or by conditioned practice, invariably adds a question mark to the end of the sentence. 
"I didn't smoke because of peer pressure...I was the peer pressure.  Funny how you go from outcast to idol with the addition of one bad habit." 
So perhaps that is the radicals first lesson in politics and non-conformity.  This theater of the absurd run like a carnival sideshow for the happy maniacs living inside your head; albeit a little mentally disturbed by certain standards, but hopefully headed in the right direction.  Or left as the case may be.  After all, fitting in, the status quo...mowing the lawn every other Saturday -- just couldn't hold a candle to being a rowdy miscreant with somewhat honorable intentions.

But then one day, attitude runs into reality...not the kind that gets you thrown out of school, but the kind that gets you tossed out of life itself.  Somebody starts a war and you receive an invitation to join in the fun.  Except that you are no longer a joiner, no longer among the naive, no longer welcome in the vast herd willing to charge headlong into some distant, vague fray, where that wrong turn you took ended inside a black bag.  Worse yet though, no real compromise is available to easy way to convert wrong to right because patriotism is now defined as conformity...truth sold cheap in a thief's marketplace.  And as a participant in this madcap are denied the very language to explain the reasoning behind your own death.   For without a voice, it is no more than an execution for a crime not committed.  So, it is perhaps time to find another horse:                   
"Five-hundred dollars later I had a horse, a broken-down old western saddle and a rough idea of where Mexico might be.  The horse's name was Hombre, which I was to learn, roughly translates from Spanish into something like, "furry four-legged death."        

To here...
No, the photo isn't Hombre, but it kind of covers most aspects of our relationship. See, a radical (aka, a Knight of Disorder) needs a good mount when challenging the state doctrines of appeasement.  And of course, the stickier elements of draft evasion: firing weapons of mediocre destruction (tomatoes) at standing (ducking) Presidents; all kinds of substance abuse, women with angry husbands, operating a large, Salvador Dali-esque bus -- one lacking turn signals, brakes or a drug-free driver; while completely refusing to yield the right of way to anyone wearing brown shoes or a bowling shirt.   And like Leon Trotsky, doing all the heavy lifting in a fight, only to be exiled later to the hinterland as a continuing threat to a new brand of the old normalcy.  Hence, a trip to Mexico seemed wholly reasonable at the time.  The horse had other ideas and certain geographical preferences...see, I didn't run away to Canada, but the horse was damn determined to seek political asylum in the northern latitudes. That led to a shaky impasse, interrupted only by occasional bouts of equine insanity.  Humans exhibit this aberration by standing naked in rush-hour traffic -- horses tend to buck and fart wildly until they run into an object of some kind.  Like a Volvo.  Other radicals, sharing other causes, are quick to define the moment:
AIM:  “Not one of ours.”
PETA:  We’ll take a waiver on this one.  Shoot it.”
SDS: “Don’t Bogart that joint my friend…”
GREENPEACE:  We’re checking to see if he’s on staff here.”
BLACK PANTHER’S:  “Man, the horse is a white dude!”
KKK:  (Remember, they are so far to the right, they ended up on the left.)  “Man, the horse is a white dude!”

 WEATHER UNDERGROUND:  Hey, look.  He’ll save us the trouble of blowing up the damn car ourselves.”

 SOCIALIST WORKERS’ PARTY:  “What’s with this elitist capitalistic Volvo crap?”

GAY LIBERATION FRONT:  “Wave girls!  The press is here!”
CHEECH to CHONG:  “Wow man.  Isn’t that our car?”

To here...
So the horse is sent off to a re-education camp...also known as a Dressage Barn, where it is hoped that he can express his zeal for reform by...actually, I don't know how.  But the human is left to ponder a world suddenly lacking pertinent causes -- or quite honestly, too busy shopping to notice.  As if perhaps, one small victory will sustain a creeping uncertainty that the war is far from over, or just maybe, like many diseases infectious to the human soul, merely in remission.  And with the usual snide wink, the mimicry found in all such false armistices...for the dragon merely sleeps.  
Exile.  The audience has scattered, the musicians play a new song...people embrace polyester and tight jeans and Disco drums out the machine-gun cadence of another round of consumption.  The armies of the left scatter -- some to exile in the hills of Tennessee...others to the cocaine palaces of Wall Street or the halls of Congress, assuming the survivability of an ideal that was really only heard by those whose ears were pressed hard to the cold pavement of righteous dissent.  Yes, Congress.  A hall of cement, of walls without ears, mouths that wear the business-as-usual sneer -- sardonic, oily and self-assured, while beyond the great doors, wilted flowers now grace the graves, faded memories erode the power behind the great deceit...a past-tense races to the present; pages ripped from a book -- the scattering of pigeons in a long deserted park.   

     Gaskin, on the other hand, was probably digesting hallucinogenic mushrooms somewhere in the southern hills of Tennessee.  He was way ahead of Timothy Leary in that for him, enlightenment was merely the clarification of simplicity, minus the clutter of modernity.  The world really was sensual, unsophisticated and rather forgiving – i.e., governable under physical law.  No gates, no locks, no garrison manning the parapet.  One need not protect what can never be controlled.  Stephen Gaskin?  Led a great caravan of buses to Tennessee in 1971.  Formed the largest commune in the United States.  It lasted until the late 1980’s.  It was named for Don Quixote’s horse Rocinante, though everyone knew it as The Farm.
     Ah, the skinny war horse Rocinante and his pettifogger knight off on a prodigal quest to slay the sour-breathed dragon of the Hypocrites – that race of dogged assassins that left the dreams of Camelot in ashes and despair.  And vanquished the believers to the wilderness of Tennessee.  The foolishly impractical pursuit of ideals -- marked by rash, lofty, romantic ideas and extravagant chivalrous action.

What next though?  Radicals, as a rule, don't play well with others. Round pegs in a square world.  Yet we have discovered that horses don't care about the right, the left...who happens to be President or Pope, or what our flag really stands for -- unless it might be edible.  They are really more like the 2/3 of the human world we rarely focus upon; those folks who merely hope that dinner is on time, the water cold and clean...shelter still available for family and friends.  And that the fences are made to keep danger out, not the suffering in.  That a partnership may one day appear for all to excel beyond...jump higher...cover swiftly the roads that lead to a more permanent settlement -- a lasting truce.  So like all the weary warriors of lost causes and blighted victories, you head to the farm -- those outskirts of civilization where small things make sense, and the fences are built strong.  A farm manager;  a lone sentry walking the green rampart, relentlessly scanning the borders of the realm...ever keen for the denizens lurking just beyond the gate.  And you talk to horses...often, and in a language of intrigue, for neither side needs to know the meaning behind the words -- only the actions they produce.  And thus, the long road back begins.  And since you live on a round planet, you are bound to tread that same path -- where distant thunder threatens the peace once again.  

To here...
But this new day is somehow different.  For the horse has gentled you...stolen your love of chaos and anarchy...given you an ounce of compassion, a moment for consideration, the cause and effect of life without judgement or consequences -- for a horse learns by simply forgetting the previous moment in favor of the present one, while humans...well, we stack our experiences, our emotions, like cord wood, anticipating the hard winter that always comes unannounced.

However, a sanctuary can also become a prison...the horse a warden, a gatekeeper of a door never opened.  For the fences that keep him in, keep the many shoplifters out.  The life suckers, the sellers of sanity, the bookmakers and pundits who always know a sure thing once it has reached some distant wire -- perhaps love itself, the sweet smell of warm jasmine, somewhere just beyond the trees...faint, fighting desperately to overcome the creosote stench of a smoldering cynicism.  The horse sees her though, a lone Siren...a dry land mermaid beckoning one to the depths of an endless embrace. The horse tracks her passing with his ears, slowly tracing her movement along an uneven path; while the man remains in a desperate, myopic blindness, brought forth by a sudden and startling want.  But the trembling hand cannot open the gate.  And the horse finally blows snot on your back and walks off in disgust.  True friends tell you what you need to know, not necessarily what you want to hear.

Decades pass, seasons of undulating thoughts...uncertainty, moments of self-doubt, a small boat caught in many, opposing currents.  Vanity, pride...validations sought, gained, lost again.  Integrity bound and gagged by a sickness born of need and want.  You try to medicate it away, drink it away...knowing that the death of this parasitic worm may lie in the last breath of a suddenly reluctant host.  Yet somewhere, buried under the concrete patches of all the perceived affronts, indignities...the self-induced anger spawned by the malignancy of many assumed betrayals...a notion.  That maybe, just maybe...when you mix all the poisons of life together in one glass, death becomes the medicine of life...and you happily drink it down.        

  Life is merely an exercise in penning your own obituary.        




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