The desert (3)

The stasis of deserts legitimate

[Reader be aware that the title of this entry is, at best and wishfully, wordplay on the title of a song by the Swedish orchestral-death metal band Therion. However, knowledge of the same, both band and song, is not required for the reading of the following text]

 

 

I am fully aware that it will happen in about a month’s time from now; not that I’m counting down the days as some people do in hopes of being celebrated, but rather because it is an inescapable fact of my life and I am tremendously aware of it. Inevitably it will happen because I am—still—alive. That is: the day I was born, my 32nd anniversary of live birth; or, in short, my birthday.

A wondrous and momentous occasion for everyone involved, including those who hold me dear and those who rue my existence alike—because what is life if not a clear contrasting duality of facts and points of view.

And it is no small feat to live over three decades in this planet, or so I am led to believe by independent observers, because after all, there are many who were not able to come this far chronologically, and, as someone once said: “in this life, you’re on your own…”

 

Like never before and quite possibly like never after, I will celebrate with a purpose, I will celebrate with gusto—à la Zap Brannigan—and with a sense of completing one of the benchmarks for which I was placed in this earth: the fulfillment of a life-long dream or purpose.

Self-imposed of course; because, who else would impose their dreams on me? That would be folly.

For the past three years of my life, it has been it—life itself—who has prevented me from achieving what I’ve desired for the last five or so years of my life due to sickness, hospitalizations or general lack of funding has not made attaining said desires possible: visiting the forest that is. The universal forest is what I mean, not a specific forest rather the forest in general (though I’ve heard The Black Forest is beautiful this time of the year).

That unique combination of factors such as land, vegetation, fresh air, elevation, virgin landscapes, wildlife and pure water; that is the forest I long to meet, know and remember from my first glimpse to my parting gaze. Why? Because I’ve never been in such a landscape and/or climactic zone of course, no additional reasons are necessary to my taste.

I’ve lived in deserts, yes; I’ve lived in the city, also yes; however, I’ve never encountered the forest as one would in movies, fairytales or the magical whimsical videogames of warriors, sorcery and open worlds I so much enjoy. As I just mentioned, I have knowledge of it thanks to current technology, thanks to books and novels, thanks to videogames and movies, and, also, thanks to family members and acquaintances who have poured their beautiful experiences and memories, from their hearts and collective conscious, into the empty vessel of my soul—currently devoid of forest memories for good.

I am well aware of my unique functioning as a man full of emotions, guided by feelings and full of introspection and uncertainties. So it very well may be that other individuals don’t long for things and don’t see locales in the way that I do. I romanticize the visages I’ve never seen thinking of the impending beauty that waits for me, all I have to do is arrive at it. I elevate the ideals of a nature which I am yet to visit, partly (I believe) because it is unknown to me and as such should be an endless fountain of memories and beauty.

At the same time, I am comfortable in my concrete surroundings, in a walled-off abode that separates me from the nature which once covered the land where I now live. I do enjoy—perhaps sinfully, perhaps egotistically—the pleasures of the common men and women of this time and age, everything at the tap of a button, everything within our grasp, and all with immediacy.

And still I also know of (and know in fact) deserts, beaches, an inlet sea and one ocean. But there is more. More than the surroundings to which I am accustomed, more to this world of which I only know a mere fraction, more to the deserts in which I was scorched by the heat of nature and the contrarian heat of already established societies and ideals which I didn’t share—deserts in both terrain and ideologies, separated from “the rest” or “others” and very much inhospitable.

So it is that after many orbits around our sun the need and the desire burn within, telling me to complete this sort of pilgrimage to the one true god of nature and untainted beauty. And who am I to deny it or to deny myself?

It is time, for me, to accept the planet in which I live and it is time for us to meet and establish our most primal and intimate of connections: this life…

 

The desert (2)

In a scale of North Korea to Freedom, how American are you in general?

 

If the calendar and my memories do not fail me, as they do individuals of a certain age, I believe it was early last week when I saw the survey. I didn’t know initially what the ultimate intention of the questioning was, after all I was just seeing the first query; although now and thanks to the 20-20 hindsight, with the added understanding of living in the a posteriori life, and after having seen the totality of the questions and the context in which they were posed—specially with the awareness of this appearing a day before the oh-so-holy 4th of July—it’s more or less clear to me what a possible intent could’ve been.

But at the very least the first question tried to start the charade off with a semblance of parity:

Desert2.JPG

 

Ah yes, the age old question “are we heading in the right direction?” asked without a clear explanation or definition of what a right or wrong direction can be.

Yes, there are clear actions that can be defined as wrong with a heightened sense of morality, or with a heightened sense of social equality, or under religious parameters, or under an ecological point of view. Under those certain subjective guidelines of life, as well as many others, there can be a clear distinction of both right and wrong; but, the belief that those terms are universal and can be used in an equal exchange of ideas and/or rectitude is—at the very least to me as narrator/author of whatever this text may be—somewhat misguided.

We forget the simple yet notorious truth that human life is not homogenous and that it has not been so through the years of humanity forming societies. Human life has so far been, or appears to be, an experiment of conciliating differences.

We forget that truth, regardless of the fact that our current era is one of points of view having more validity than facts, will be a constant. It will be a universal constant of undeniable facts, measurements, tests, adjustments, and re-tests.

If it were as simple as driving a metaphorical vessel from right to wrong, or vice versa, then course corrections would be the everyday norm and it would be, ideally, painfully clear when one was mistaken and needs to be chastised or decried—unfortunately, our every day life of discourse (or lack thereof) and leadership (or lack thereof) has made clear that that is not the case.

And, to me, the survey went in a sad down-hill self-aggrandizing direction from there:

Desert2 (2)

 

That’s a hard one. But hey, the survey designer should get his commendation for being able to craft multi-level questions that encompass philosophy, taste, emotion, geography and politics in one.

We are not told what construes to be an American, or which actions are defined as inherently American and which aren’t. Additionally, we are not given an example of how such pride may be felt and/or interpreted or espoused.

It may sound silly to some—usually to those who are sitting in their computer rooms in houses that great-grandpa bought after the depression, or the war, and where a same family unit has resided for decades and didn’t have to work through high school to pay for college. But why should it be considered silly?

There are still those in this world who are confronted with an impossibility of tasks to meet up and check-boxes to fill so that they can be considered “worthy” of a given nationality—in this case the American one. It is very self-serving to believe blindly in the fact that those parameters can be applied to ALL situations and ALL circumstances.

What pride can you feel for your own existence, when the fact is that you took no part in creating the self? The nationalistic pride alluded to is somewhat confusing, because you just are, by being born between certain parallels and meridians you became and no one, up to this point in history, questions that.

Yet someone who decides to leave the place where he or she was born, to travel, to toll, to work, to learn, to endure hardships, to not just survive but live and experience everything that there can be (bad and good), and, ultimately actually attaining a nationality, a membership into a different country, thanks to their knowledge, to their achievements, thanks to their own two hands, and by swearing an oath; that person (those persons) has done more than just being born, and still, after completing everything I just mentioned, the labeling is done so that they immediately fall within those who are questioned the most—listening until the end of the days the never ending: “Where are you REALLY from?”.

That is something, I believe, the survey was leaving out of the questions posed—which, incidentally, were not over yet.

But, again thanks to the survey designer, shades and levels of complexity as-of-yet unseen in online polling were added to what would otherwise be mundane queries; here turning from philosophical and geographical to quantitative and qualitative in one quick turn:

Desert2 (3)

 

It was quite something. Maybe that’s what they are referring to whenever they bring up the term: “American ingenuity”. The ability of grasping concepts that would otherwise be complicated and in need of abstract thinking, by superimposing them into the everyday lives of the general populace—which is the basis of the American political system, some historians have said. Such ideas and effects are quintessentially American and, thus, worthy of being celebrated.

Or, a tad more cynically, there exists the possibility of the authors of the study being referenced here having been caught just pandering to the festive and patriotic mood of the masses. In search of some sort of “click-bait” type of effect perhaps—although those usually involve the name of a given celebrity and an implication of possible nudity.

Maybe, if we were able to survey those who completed and assisted in the aforementioned survey, then those results could help us clear our doubts…

Echoes of the City (2)

[Reader: Be aware that the following text contains information regarding the news heard on the radio which in itself has content of a religious and political nature. It is not a statement from the author, but rather a reaction to the news around us]

It was Wednesday morning, maybe a typical morning (maybe atypical), yet morning nonetheless. It’s just me, driving through surface streets, avoiding the morning rush of the freeways. My companion, as it usually happens, is the radio—public radio at that.

I tune in, and the morning deluge begins:

“…Southern Baptist Convention has made changes to their bibles and released what they are calling ‘The New Christian Edition Bible’ which reads differently in certain parts to become more inclusive…”

And the piece goes on. They tell us about how “at risk” the Southern Baptists are due to their congregations being almost exclusively centered in the south—hence the name—; how they need to make radical changes to their congregations to be more inclusive such as: “appointing females in leadership positions” and “banning the confederate flag” at their yearly summit.

A religious scholar is brought in and he discusses how the changes such as adding the word sisters to a passage where it reads something to the effect of: “And Jesus said unto them you are brothers”; are because they are changing an archaic idiom so that it is understood, clearly, what Jesus meant without any room for ambiguity.

I think, as I hear all of this, how I made the same observations as a young man, of how much really this supposed word of god is really “The Word of God”. So divine it is, so true and humbling and revealing that it gets edited, in a periodic constant; so that true divinity shines through the words. Although one could venture forth the idea—quite cynically—that the word is being edited, because society has expanded the relationships of individual-to-individual in a way that the words in the bible, perhaps previously edited ad nauseaum, have lost their audience of understanding.

But most importantly, remember: “the first two thousand to arrive will receive a ‘New Christian Edition Bible’ free”.

Time moves on, as do I from street-light to street-light, and so does the radio:

EOTC2 (3)

“…gunman opens fire against members of congress who practiced for a baseball game against their congressional opponents…”

It would seem that those are breaking news indeed, that something like that is out of the ordinary, that some soul-searching and introspection will be required after such an event… but then again, this is what happens in the country in which I live. We had been told it is a commonplace occurrence and citizens and individuals have to be alert—lest we infringe on one another’s liberties.

Right?

But I’ve never agreed fully and blindly with those statements. Jut like I know there are others who also agree that someone standing about with a high powered rifle shooting at others is not commonplace.

Why should it be?

There was even a woman who called in, live on the radio, to relate what she saw, for she lived four houses or so down from where everything happened. But she wasn’t just a witness; she was upset at republican members of congress, saying they’ve gone into hiding—even before this had transpired—, that it was impossible to get a hold of your representative, that they weren’t holding town halls anymore, that they were beholden to special interests, that they were… I don’t know what they were, because the announcer had to cut in: “…I have to stop you there…”

And as the announcer pointedly made clear, at the time, there were no indications regarding the motivations of the alleged gunman.

Yet the whole ordeal made me remember two words from the not so distant past, but not just remember those two words—a name—, also ask a question regarding it all:

What about Gabby Giffords?

Then: it was a man, a loner, who needed mental health. Today… well, we’ve seen it… the responses seem to show a divide so deep, so entrenched that newscasters can do nothing but move on.

“…next can cheap steel be considered a National Security threat? To find out more we go…”

Finally, I have arrived.

More at eleven…

EOTC2 (2)

 

The author does not claim ownership for the radio sound bytes; they belong to his local NPR station (KPCC)