A quality of light passes through the tall eucalyptus of my childhood, a broken light made whole to my memory by a familiar aroma of camphor diffused and transformed to a spicy scent with which I could eat the morning sky. Childhood could have been a fog of wounding sadness, but the boundless energy of youth erased misery after misery to give life a second chance each and every day. As disappointments grew intense and sunk in ever deeper towards a singularity someone had placed near my heart, the Sun still always rose the next day with a promise of spice and light to hold a thirst for meaning in abeyance for another time, another day and another place.
As my body ceased its relentless growth and adulthood loomed, the time came to be known as now, the day of import, today, and the place of moment chosen far and away from the healing eucalyptus and camphor that once gave an overtaxed nervous system pause for reasons not held in conscious keep.
Many haircuts spread unevenly and made of varying length taught me the power of an electric buzz to deafen the ears to both silence and sound. I would take my seat disheveled, presumed dissembling and unclean, only to arise a score of minutes later renewed to a world outside the buzz that continued its echo beneath the skin of my childhood.
I promised last week to stop looking for import where none was possible; to cease seeking for inspiration among things intentionally left common and profane. I would, instead, seek for my oracle in the abject innocence, or goofiness, of a seven-year old grandchild named, “Caleb.”
I think I’ve again made a terrible mistake.
“K-L-E-B…wind-up radioooooooooooo….all talk, all-the-time.” It is non-stop with this kid. The channels in his head switch so fast he ends up, most often, stuck between channels of thought and making no sense whatsoever. Stephanie Miller he is not. Not yet, anyway. But he is my chosen oracle for the week. He will be my source for the power to see all things obvious. My a-feared headline reads, “Captain Obvious accidentally eats kryptonite in the form of a kid with a developing mood and/or neurological disorder and is left, once again, trying to establish a meaning for it all.”
I could go to DIGG and seek for inspiration at the human gum-wall of complete nonsense. About the only thing this week that makes any sense to me are the two submissions about the online video of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan which has become the rallying cry for a huge number of Iranians dissatisfied with their stolen election results. Mahmoud “Imadinnajacket,” a man who, like George W. Bush, bankrupted and destroyed his country’s infrastructure in record time, has been roundly criticized for years by the Iranian people. Those people, particularly women, showed up in record numbers to try to throw the bum out, but he’s had other plans. So have the theocrats who actually run the country that is Iran – those who fancy themselves philosopher-kings even while they preside over the murder of teens for the crime of being raped by a 51-year old male.
To date no one really knows what’s actually going on inside of Iran, but the shocking and traumatic video of Neda’s shooting and subsequent death have caused a full spectrum of responses to rise up around the globe, from the utterly dysfunctional to the appropriately horrified. Something odious is brewing within Iran’s borders, something with the face of an angel but the vacuous core of the amoral. The obvious conclusion: we no longer trust what comes in through our eyes…the more intense or sublime the dissonance between life, death and reproduction, the more jaded we seem to be to the simple beauty of ordinary things. The truth we all run from stares us plainly in our face and we doubt its veracity not because it isn’t true, but because our habit of denial has become so incredibly fierce it can impose itself on our conscious minds even seemingly at random.
The obvious fact of the matter is that my observation of your life makes your life a part of mine: your pain, your joy, your life, your death – become feelings that dwell within me for a time. The more powerful those emotions and their dissonance with mine become, the faster my drawbridge between truth and my conscious acceptance of truth goes up. I stay within my battlements and boundaries and believe that I am safe from you and the truth of our obvious unity, until something assaults from both within and without to set those battlements ablaze. My anger rises from frustration and guilt as I must, once again, erect those walls of neurological safety between us that time and truth can only wear away. So acute can those feelings of guilt and frustration become that I feel compelled to project them onto you so as to hold you accountable and responsible for emotions that are plainly and entirely my own. You forced me to feel what I didn’t want to feel or was not prepared to experience and I blame you for using the shock of my own ignorance to awaken me to the simple fact of our conjoint existence. And so the obvious becomes camouflaged and buried beneath layer after layer of self-serving conclusion, dishonest inquiry and a projection of misplaced guilt.
I run from this truth every day, as do you. And I resent you every time you attempt to bring the obvious to my attention. I am not at peace being a part of your experience, and yet I crave the very thing I am at war with. When I pull the lacings of my most profound skin to give you the access you crave, you run away in shock and horrible surprise as my beauty pulls at you with the gentle force of gravity, yet the static charge of my imperfections throws you back across the room. We want to be true to only one force in a multiverse of several; we want truth and beauty even though our individual nervous systems can tolerate but little before a heat wave of confusion makes an entire horizon profane and a void of meaning that mere words cannot describe.
And so Neda’s very public death by murder in Iran becomes a hoax for which I require no real evidence to believe simply because I so thoroughly do not want to feel the burn of a bullet to my chest that pierces my heart and shatters my spinal cord such that, even in my final moments, I cannot reach out and touch those most dear to me before I drown helplessly in my own blood. And I resent you for making me feel this and the horror of a father whose beautiful baby girl has just evaporated into a lifeless heap before his eyes shocking him into the madness of a nervous system driven into overload.
These are but few of the emotions I must carry in my conscious mind while my unconscious mind knows that a little girl or little boy who would be so completely incapable of processing the emotion of stepping across streams of blood in the street, must in fact do so by the dozen in the searing heat that is Iran in the Summer of 2009. And so crippled by this experience would such children be that it will be decades of self-inflicted traumatic terror before they would even draw close to a recollection of why red blood on the ground, or the odor of rust in the air, causes them to feel nauseous or fly into a terrifying rage that they will blame on those around them as if they had just murdered someone before their eyes…because they have. There were seemingly different individuals involved in an apparently different time and place, but the feelings are just as if their heart had never left the place of its original violation, the habit of ripping up the drawbridge from its natural place of rest becoming owned as their habit, rather than the reflected compulsion of the man whose self-righteous bullet targeted a woman unchaste enough to show her face in a public place.
So while the United States may have had no actual accountable involvement in Neda’s murder for which they could be brought to trial and jailed, it was their man in Tehran, the Shah Reza Pahlavi, who had succeeded in driving an otherwise habitual pattern of revolution into the relative safety of Islamic mosques where it became rancid and infectious. When the cystic infection of politicized religious self-righteousness finally burst in 1979, religion powered the coup that swept the Shah from his throne and generated a tidal wave of Islamic rage throughout the Middle East. It is from among these fundamentalist zealots that Neda’s deadly bullet apparently hailed. So, in what some on this planet would say is an indirect sense – but everything intelligent in the cosmos looking down on us from afar would agree is anything but indirect – the US played a big role in Neda’s murder. And we all live with this sad fact because our fierce friend – denial – helps us to forget the unforgettable even when remembering fully might serve us all best.
Before this week became too much for me, I took Caleb to the park to feed the ducks. We got to hold a baby gosling and even managed to do so without getting pecked to death by a mother goose. She had her job to do and we had our’s: fighting crimes against the Obvious One. Even modern superheroes need to take time out to mingle with the reasons anyone ever does anything at all on this planet.
A familiar buzz awakens me…this time it is my alarm clock…and it reminds me that what was yesterday is forever gone, what is tomorrow does not promise my further existence and what exists right here and right now is my eternal choice between sharing heaven or competing for leadership in hell.
If you cannot imagine my choice, imagine the going rate for haircuts in hell.