Friday, January 21, 2005

I was standing in my bathroom this morning after shaving. I dried my face and looked out at the house going up next door. It's a huge semi-Victorian that's replacing a cobbed together ex-garage that was just starting to look like like a neat house when it burnt up. It was early in the morning and bitter cold.
The warm air from the bathroom escaped into the cold outside air and there was mist on the window. I wondered about what I was seeing. For instance, I know that I see by figuring out patterns in the signals from my optic nerve. Those signals have their origin in light hitting the cells of my retina, so they are delivered to my consciousness at least light speed. That being said, what I was thinking about had happened some time in the past and I was just now becoming aware of it. Something that takes very little time, or no time at all would happen to us before we could, by vision, become aware of it. So we can't trust vision to help us figure it out. I see the smoke from the hood of one truck and the men looking sadly at it. I sniff. In the morning hours I always wake up stuffed up and besides, I am notoriously lacking in the nose department, That's always been a gift when picking up after pets, even sick pets. But in figuring out what I was seing was no help at all. You can't trust smell to help us out. You go thru all five or so senses one by one and they all depend on interaction between two things, or many things and one mind. I wondered how I can trust anything I think is going on? You take it all on faith. You decide at some point to place your trust in what you see is real and hard... or soft... and you can touch it...or not. But it all has obvious levels of meaning.
This logic fails for those of us who have taken in the past large amounts of mind expanding drugs. It isn't the mind that expands, but the doors open wider. But we can accept that it all has meaning, levels of meaning. We reach this point where we all of us take it on faith. And it depends on what you decide "it" is. So "it" is something you decide. Self referencing, the definition of a being. There's a lot of bagage in proving that You are Something with logic that is based in faith. You get into circles of logic and that usually means you lost some meaning somewhere and your thoughts are circling a black hole. Bad idea.
So back to being something. You hear sometimes people expressing the view that faith is somehow the antithesis of knowlege. Knowlege is gnosis and that is the domain of the goddess, and faith, the way it is expressed in humanity, is the domain of the god consort. So you see a yin and yang to "it" all, a duality in the middle of which is the ALL. Nice for an early morning shave and a face wash. Now the window is all steamy and I have to get some windex and paper towels. It needed it anyway. Sometimes everybody needs to break down and clean the windows as well as widen the doors.
You need to widen doors to let the wheelchairs through so if it turns out that someone you love is in a wheelchair they can follow you anywhere, or lead you somewhere, maybe somewhere you'd normally not go.
And that's about all I could type before the pain in my arm made it a great idea to stop.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

And there is no more to Eden
Than a fleeting backward glance
As we race into tomorrow
Like a dancer in a trance
As we stumble to tomorrow
Like a madman on a roll
Like an angel on peyote
And we never pay the toll
And the Serpant tries to stop us
For the Tree is past it's prime
And we race toward tomorrow
But there isn't any time
And the parents of the children
Are the children of us all
And are racing to that Eden
And not listening to His call
So He slithers to the Garden
And He sheds His itchy skin
And He curls up round the Goddess
And He tells Her where He's been
And the Children of Tomorrow
Are out running on the track
That revolves around the Garden
And they're never coming back
And they race into tomorrow
Like a dancer in a trance
Giving no more thought of Eden
Than a fleeting backward glance.

There's a new friend of mine I'd like to introduce. He's called fibromyaglia. It starts at the base of the neck on the left side and goes does like molasses around my shoulder and down to the elbow where a few lines of pain trickle to my fingertips. There are one or two spots near the elbow that feel as if someone had driven a steel rod through the elbow and occasionally twist it, as if someone were trying to pull it out but it's stuck. It's strong enough to wake me up when the meds run out and the meds they give me so far simply bring it down to nearly tolerable. So now I wake up early, shut off the alarm so it won't wake my sweety-pie, choke down a handful of pills and start the coffee. Then I pace about waiting for something to happen, like a decrease in pain. About an hour or so goes by before I can stop making little sounds in the back of my throat if I move my arm. Mostly I walk about rubbing the elbow and holding it like a wounded bird. It's a good friend in that it never fails to be there for me and it always pays attention to me. I think that somehow the body has misunderstood something. Response to stress should not be increased pain. I would think a better response to stress would be a calming squirt of some enzyme which is like THC and you get calm and quiet and able to focus on little details. Instead you get mind numbing pain which wakes you up and drags you down the hall, away from your sweetheart and warm bed and into a dark place where mysterious thoughts come and go.

They want me to return to the list where we got support for those living with coma and brain injury. I cheered them up with my "gallows" humor. They don't see it that way, of course. I try to say things which give hope and I tell them about the cats and the chickens. I always respond around people in pain with humor, little stories to take their mind off it. Trouble is, nobody takes my mind off my pain. People suggest drugs, which I have either tried or cannot take because of previous adictions. They say try prayer, but they usually want me to pray to their god and that will not happen. I've prayed to their god and I don't like his responses. At least I understand the Crone and the Maiden.

I will return and I will help them get through the day. I will tell them about my undying faith in the face of death and dis-ease and pain. I will tell them about my tailess chickens and the fights over bits of bread or the attempts to escape into the garden. I will tell them about my boy and his latest trip to the hospital, my father's latest trip to the hospital and my latest pain. It helps them take their minds off their problems, which amazes me, because these people are struggling with matters which would bring me to my knees. But they say my words help. I don't understand how that can be, but then I don't understand why my friends watch soap operas either.

It's been half an hour now and the meds are not in the blood yet. Typing is interesting because my left hand can work just fine and the pain the neck and elbow do little to slow down my thoughts. But it feels like my hands should be shaking or my arms should be frozen at the elbow. After all, isn't there an invisible rod of hot steel driven thorugh the elbow and up the arm? I guess my metaphor needs adjusting.

I have to call dad up and tell him to relax and tell him that it's a good thing we are taking all control over his money. He understands that mom can't have a credit card, because she will give out the numbers to anyone on the phone who asks for it and then forgets to tell dad what the call was about. So they subscribe to 15 magazines and mom can't read because she forgets what she just read and just sits there staring at the first paragraph over and over and dad, bless his heart(what's left of it) is mostly blind. He told me they keep sending him free gold coins and other collectables but he doesn't realize that like mom, he too is giving out credit card numbers and forgetting about it. They both sob when they think that they are going to a nursing home someday and there they will be seperated because homes haven't enough beds or double rooms. It isn't true, or doesn't have to be. I would gladly take them into our house. They could stay in Jon's room and have their own back door and a nice window over the herb garden. I could make a porch for dad to wheel out his chair and watch the sunrise. He might not see the trees or the flowers but I am sure the shining sun would make it through those clouds in his eyes. But they say it's too cold here. They want to stay in California where they can't afford to pay for an apartment and can't seem to remember how to handle money or meds and can't afford to pay someone to stay with them on weekends. Here they would be a treasure and I would care for them every day, every night. I could watch their meds, answer the phone and tell them my funny stories. But I would also probably have to watch them die. The role of the shaman is not only to cure, but to help people die. We are close to the Crone because we frequently have to help spirits find their way Home.

I need a cup of coffee to help speed these meds along. the cloud of pain over my own eyes is masking the promise of this morning. I don't want to dwell on it and my parents pain. I want to talk to a chickadee, open the hen house and look out across my sleeping garden and see this summer, with everything growing and blooming. The garden is like the snake which goes underground, sheds it's skin and is reborn as a new shiney beast. My garden will be filled with flowers and fruit and soft smells of lavender, rosemary and hops. In the summer when my arm hurts enough to wake me up I will grab my coffee and walk out into the garden to let the pain go away amidst the beds of lettuce, tomatoes and beans. I'll reach out to connect with my Goddess and tell her I thank her for this pain, for this reminder that I am part of this world, bound to it by my body and soul. Like the serpant I will shed this skin and emerge as a shiney new me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Lately I've been thinking about survival. Maybe it's the tsunami, maybe it's the two out of three cats we have suddenly developing cancer, maybe it's my father going in and out of hospital with pneumonias and maybe lung cancer. My sweetheart cries almost daily for the ones who are sick or who have died.
But what is this "survival" thing? Why did those mothers survive after watching their babies being swept out to sea? Why did Larry drop dead in my house rather than on the plane or at his home? How come I seem to be surrounded by so much death lately? I started wondering if maybe I'm in some kind of battle with Trickster, like Job before me. Maybe it's a bet. Bottom line is, I seem to survive when others do not.
In some cultures the survivor does not speak the name of the dead in order to assure that they make it to the afterlife and are not bound to the earth. In Gnostic teachings Yahweh is criticized because He has trapped souls in mortal forms. Dying there is a release, so surviving is remaining trapped in a mortal form. There we suffer pain, sickness and grief. Truth be told, every dead guy with whom I have chatted seems pretty darn happy, so I am inclined towards the Gnosis viewpoint.
But as the cats wane, dad declines and my son gets no better, I wonder how I have managed to do so many terrible, deadly things and still walk about, albeit in a lot of pain but still alive. I drove cars through the night country, drunk and blinded by drink with a six pack between my legs and one eye open I bouced out of ditches, dodged cats and foxes and ran stop signs. I've eaten enough illicit drugs to choke a psychedelic horse. Then there's the barrels of guns I have stared down while some jerk suggested the various ways they might make me suffer before shooting me in the head. Still I survived and many of them are dead.
But, I did not shoot drugs, so no hep C. I did not take heroin or crack cocaine, not a hell of a lot of meth, although probably enough to kill your average guy. The alcohol deaths I skipped are plentiful and the various strange ladies I slept with yet did not end up with AIDS...
Why me? As a punishment Life seems about right. You get to love and lose, try and fail, sacrifice and still end up short. Your friends die in accidents and from heart failure. Eventually even your sweetheart could let go. I can tell you it's not easy to lose your kids even if it takes years for them to finally step away behind the veil.
I think it's punishment, or extending the joke. Maybe it's trying to solve a puzzle which can be approached only by living. That would be great! But I need to know the puzzle. I mean, if it's a maze I just keep a wall on my right side. If it's a word game I need a good dictionary. If it's a complex puzzle I need to take notes. If it's a joke.... I don't get it. But here I am, aching and whining about the pains, limping down the hall to take my meds, phoning doctors and accupuncturists in an effort to get some relief that doesn't involve poisoning the liver. I even bought swim trunks so I can walk around inside the pool at the Y. I'll try just about anything.
So how long will I survive? Suppose in fifty years I'm still hanging tough, still in pain, still lonely for lost friends and still taking in cats, just to lose them in 15 years or so? That would suck. Then we'd know it was a sick joke. If someone like Mother Theresa dies before her work is done, if Issac Asimov dies without writing his best book that he's had in his head for decades... why am I still writing? How come the universe kept me around when it took those others?
The worse part is surviving your children. So far. That's just wrong. My boy should be bringing his kids over for me to watch while he goes to work, or better yet, on a holiday with his sweetheart. Well, maybe my daughter will do that for me. I'd like to see a grandchild. Maybe that's why I'm still here. Maybe it's because I still haven't bounced a grandchild on my knee. I have acquired a few godchildren and that's pretty cool, although it would be even more fun if they really thought of me as a Fairy Godfather. I could teach them about spirit walks, about rituals and psychic armor. But I have to be patient.
When I was young and getting lots of shots because of my allergies and asthma the nurses would complain that the thin needles couldn't penetrate my skin. It took 2 or 3 times to get the injection. Not a lot of fun for a six year old. But maybe that's a clue. Maybe I'm so damned tough that each time my time was up I was so tough I didn't get the message. Maybe the bullets bounced off. Like that Bruce Willis character in Unbreakable I can be pushed around but not killed. I'm not sure I'd like that.
On the other hand, survivors in some cultures are free to wail out the name of the dead and so we get stiring videos of fathers and mothers in Sri Lanka crying for their babies lost. WE hear sisters weeping for their brothers, snatched from in front of their faces, lost to the waves. Time like a wave breaks over us all. Surviving is not a sign of immortality, it's just an indication that we have more to go through, good and bad. We aren't done yet.
When I think about the things I want to make with my old beat up hands: the sauna, the statues and boxes and furniture. When I think about the poems and novels I'd like to get out so they'd stop bouncing around inside my head, I understand why I'm a survivor. To be dead and unfinished would be a real downer. I'd have to try spirit writing or channeling and that would be a drag. On the other hand, it might be fun making some construction worker wander over to the house and take a couple of weekends to finish up my sauna. But I'd never be able to use it!
No, I think surviving may be a good thing. So long as I remember the names of those who passed before me, their voices, their artwork and words.... as long as I carry them in my heart I suppose I'm surviving for them all.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

In Fifth Element, the movie, they describe the star as "perfect" without really getting into what they mean. What would be considered perfect has to be a variable, right? The teacup we use for a tea ceremony is not going to be the one you use drinking tea with the Queen Mum. If you went to a bar and were looking to get laid you wouldn't think a sweet 17 year old was perfect, unless you were a seriously sick person. Or horny. But the point here is that perfection is relative and variable. Yet we speak of achieving perfection as a kind of goal, as if it's a single point we can reach. We speak of a perfect government, although most politicians give themselves some wiggle room by claiming they think that true perfection is not possible. I think it's possible, for the moment, but they act like it can only be attained at a 50%-75% rate. Like a discount perfection. Thing is, what was perfect will change and what received that perfect thing will change.

Then there's the time you had something horrible happen, like a flat tire, in the rain on the way to an important event, like a birth. You say to the universe, "Perfect!" and dig out the jack. But you meant it at the time. That final straw, that broken back, was perfect for the moment. It was the tip of the pyramid. In that moment you knew that Someone was watching.... and laughing. Well, maybe not laughing, but certainly involved.

So perfection is often the moment of transcendence when we have tangible proof of celestrial involvement. The perfect woman walks in the door just as you are thinking of going celibate. You look over the recipe to make sure it doesn't contain any ingredients that would make it problematic and find only those things you need. It's perfect. Then the perfect woman ages and grows hair on her chin and farts under the covers. No longer perfect for that young man, she has become less than desirable.... for that young man. But the young man has aged, has grey hair in his ears and farts in unison. Together, their child exclaims, they are a perfect match. Like two sides of a coin, or two pieces of a puzzle, they fit.

When damaged goods match damaged goods, they are perfect. And all goods are damaged. Unlike the concept of Original Sin, which is a sick device for keeping people under control, being imperfect for one simply means being perfect for another cause. If our original sin was that we acted according to our nature, then we were perfect for the time. We knew nothing of sin, nothing of right and wrong, and because we could not conceive of such things, we believed the serpent, the symbol of the Goddess. We were told that the fruit of knowlege would give us understanding and would not kill us. After tasting the fruit the first Man said to his wife, "Perfect! Now we have to put on some clothes and live in pain!" Well, that's what they tell us. Actually the first thing that would have crossed his mind is that Eve had a perfect figure. She had perky breasts, having never given birth. Her waist was supple and her skin tanned. She had never known disease or bad breath. She was perfect. I'm sure they weren't so much hiding from God as playing at the two backed camel game. They also would have known that their God, their Father, was capable of lies. They would have gathered up some concept of that basd on the fact that they were alive and not dead, dead, dead. Maybe they thought they had a few minutes before the death thing kicked in and so took a few minutes to explore their perfect bodies. Knowlege of good and evil would have included things like how good it was to snuggle and whisper to one another.

Having found that they were human, naked, and offspring of a Being who could lie and threaten, they hid. They understood "wrong" and their Father was "wrong". He was not a perfect being. But that thing that Eve did to Adam came real close to perfection, if you asked Adam.

The place they came to must have been perfect. Plenty of water, good soil, plenty of game nearby. The kids were hard workers, although they fought sometimes. Life was good, not evil, and they did alright by themselves. Perfection is attainable is small amounts and you get to keep it for a small amount of time. Expectation of more is greedy. Not evil, mind you, but greedy. Perfection is not perfect in too great an amount. Say you're in that bar, looking to get laid and the 19 year old with the firm body comes up to you and seems to want to connect. Then another young thing comes up and chats and another, until you have 30-40 sweet, desirable young things all demanding your attention. This is fun, but disturbing. This makes you wonder what's going on. Not exactly perfect. You get a beer and it's a nut brown ale with just the right amount of hops. Perfect head, perfect color. Maybe you don't notice because perfect young thing #25 is suggesting you two leave for an apartment nearby. That's not perfect, it becomes more nightmarish.

We demand too much of perfection. We expect it to last, unlike the perfect triple rainbow we saw once. We expect it to last unlike an orgasm lasts. We expect it to last like a summer afternoon in the garden with a child examining a flower. Perfection lasts as long as it is perfect, like a soap bubble.

When we popped Jesus's bubble he was far from perfect. He was dirty, bloody, scarred and dying. We made him as unperfect as we could before discarding him. When we get a shirt that is perfect for going to work we wear it out going to work until it becomes a perfect dust cloth. Like all living things, perfection changes or dies. Or both, changes and then dies. Like Osiris being chopped up and scatterd and then resewn and restored, perfection changes. Things which do not change, never evolve or grow, would soon become not perfect because we would change. Being living things, we move on and our perfect concepts change. That 19 year old with the beautiful body would never understand about watching a child being played with by a grandmother, or the feeling of loss when the hand you are holding grows cold and the eyes on that face must be closed. That perfect body might not have a perfect mind and so even in perfection there is room for growth and life. We are offered both crystals and mud. It's up to us to see the perfection in each. By doing so we can become perfect for an instant.

A perfect instant lasts a perfect eternity. As above, so below; as below, so above.

this was Jon Posted by Hello

this is me Posted by Hello