Sunday, March 16, 2014


The deconstruction process that parallels renewal seems to be as much a valuation as it does wrestling with the presumption of control  An intention to transform oneself to transform experience itself as both are more malleable than imagination. All of this sometimes calls for a change of scenery as if to blame the stage props or backdrops for a poor performance, but then there are the other props we cannot see. Those that are like a warm blanket we nestle under during a long winter siege to avoid exposure in order that we survive, but then we ask, to what end?

It may be a room at the Karcher Hotel in Bozeman, Montana where I lay on a feather bed in a room full of furniture from another century, digesting Mark Twain’s dark passage through the mirror of humanity, man made in a God’s image or is it a God made in man’s image?

“..a God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell--mouths mercy, and invented hell--mouths Golden Rules and foregiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!
- No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger Mark Twain

As I got up from the bed to leave that passage dangling in mid air, I thought to myself that life’s journey has as it’s steadfast companion, a search for justice. Even the most hard core Taoist seeks it whether the mask is up or snatched away that signals to others there is a balance to be maintained.
My task this morning was to pick up a fellow sojourner and tear down a barn and as the car rattled to life as it were with a turn of the key, I turned up the heat as the chill of Autumn was in the air. The fellow in question had the name of Festus and his current address was in the far corner of the local  park where he lie on the ground on a sleeping bag covered with blankets.
His explanation for this was that his dog was not allowed in the hotel, an injustice poised against an unquestioned and unconditionally steadfast companion who shared the wildly swinging fortunes of a rounder and ranch hand succumbing to the the effects of age.
Yet he had a spirit of stubborn optimism regarding his own independance. Something will always turn up, circumstances will float and turn over a new leaf if you roll with any hand you are dealt with. One could say, in looking back his resources were considerable while his crumpled clothes and tattered shoes said otherwise.
As we drove in circles on the back roads and twisting passes with trees changing color in search of that barn to tear down, my thoughts turned back to 1969 and my encounter with an obviously drug enthused kid who in his sharing of an unwarranted enthusiasm ran up to me with a frantic glaze of ecstasy. He forcefully put his flip flops in my hand and pronounced in a excited out of breath voice..”These are my last possessions!!”
I could see that they were not his last possessions as he was obviously clothed. You have to ask yourself what sort of tunnel he was transversing, what sort of justice did he provide himself with in this exchange? What did he expect, was this some sort of payment for a get out of jail free card? Whatever happened to him?
Now from the safety of my kitchen table, my fingers translating these thoughts by tapping on a alphabetic abacus, I wonder what became of Festus?
Balance as an expression of justice wavering between freedom and utter failure, between life and death as the two of us headed up a road he knew of that led to a perch overlooking the highway we had just taken. Making a campfire, he shared that like my other companion’s refuge in the former Pony Express station, his was what Montana had… sky, a openness of horizon that dwarfed everyone and everything, and that included the mountain we sat upon.
He never called me by name instead his chosen moniker for me was “Pard”
Space time enfolded onto itself and the night opened up the universe right above our heads full of an unimaginable amount of celestial light. Being here while being out there is a weak description for the experience of that canvas of shooting stars and galaxies pulsing and the sense you could make a leap and you would be in 1870, or a thousand years hence. One poet termed this the terrible beauty of the universe that required a response, that search for balance, for justice that made the search for any definitive answer, hopelessly naive. A campfire will suffice.

The secret of open sky deconstructed my past and perhaps history itself, any you could name. Coming from the close quarters of Chicago where you could reside three feet from your neighbor’s door and yet they remained strangers to enormous distances separating those in the West, they were closer, more charitable due to their greater physical separation
The frantic frenzy of city life as distracted and as voluminous as it was in it’s variety did not allow for much reflection to look back beyond the last twenty four hours..let alone one’s place in a larger arrangement as we sat beneath it lit by the flames of our fire..this encampment of transit where it appeared like a well at the end of the world..deeper and as mysterious as we to ourselves...yet this is accepted, vouchsafed under the physicality of mountains dwarfed by none other than the universe we sat within.
Pard, a partnership of constant rearrangement on the road to a nameless destination which at the nexus of the mountainside mattered not, simply an intellectual folly, a whirlygig or contraption with cranks and levers..naming the nameless without recognising the freedom inherent in throwing these toys overboard to see what rounds the corner, way out West.

The secret sharers of ghosts who sat behind us and ahead of us came to mind, without number in a writhing trail of dreams, roads followed, habitations left to molder, tunnels dug and their stories that pulse in our jugular veins, one generation after another to reflect upon as a music sounding that lonesome sharing of aloneness and yet transpersonal….sharing a campfire or sharing life itself as something recalled...

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