Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.
I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.
Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!
But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.
Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.
I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different. Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..
Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.
Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.
It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.
We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.
In my humblest attempts to write something that sounds Twain-ish, I came up with the following.
“If you wanna know a man, meet his dog first.” You can unpack that quote several ways, but I’ll leave it up to you to deconstruct as you see fit.
For Chasey——-my Pal….
I don’t walk my dog, he walks with me. We go to fun places together, not stores, restaurants and malls, I think that’s stupid and weird. That’s as absurd as taking a cat to church. Cats don’t believe in god, they think they are god.
We prefer walks around our neighborhood or hikes in the woods. Being a Lab, he loves his swims down by the lake. He tips the scale at over a hundred pounds. That’s twenty pounds of sweetness, thirty pounds of slobber and fur and fifty pound of love. He shakes his wet coat all over me, drools water across my freshly shined hardwood floors and steps on my bare feet with his heavy sharp paws—–Ouch!!!—–If he wasn’t so damn cute he’d get a lot more scoldings.
There’s a quiet calm about him. He’s at peace with himself and the world, minus the mailman, garbageman and the neighbor’s cat. The cat sits smugly behind her window as Chase is pulled back to his yard by his collar. I’ve never been at peace with myself, the world, or anybody or anything. I’m more the restless type who’s easily tangled up in my own expectations. I anxiously cling to desired outcomes that are out of my control. He stares up at me with his eyes that seem to say “Don’t worry bro, it’s all good man, everything is as it should be”. Chase is Zen; he’s simple, honest, loyal, kind and empathetic——-he expects nothing. He lives in the moment, joyfully running in circles, never mired in selfish conclustions. He doesn’t even care when he misplaces his favorite tennis ball. He naps when he’s tired, eats when he’s hungry and walks around with a big contented Zen smile on his doggie face. In his serene mind he wags his tail in time to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.
He doesn’t much care for fighting, but if provoked he can be vicious——-he has a highly developed “bullshit detector”. Lying and cheating must give off a subtle scent, because his keen sense of smell can detect those qualities from miles away. His intense listening skills alert him when someones words don’t match their voice inflection. He’ll piss on the lawns of those who are deserving of his mark….
People fall out of love. They change, they lose touch, they move on, They’ll selfishly take more than they give, until one day they wake up and find themselves friendless and loveless. Little by little they wear out others with their chafing annoyances. I think you know what I mean, like the petty cruelty of repeatedly leaving the cap off the proverbial tube of toothpaste. It becomes a process of slowly wringing out their partners patience like a stiff old dish rag until they’ve squeezed out every last drop of civility. All that remains is bitterness and lawyer fee’s.
Dogs don’t know how to keep score. They only have two emotions, love and forgiveness. Unlike humans, dogs make great listeners. Most folks don’t listen, they just yammer on with all the eloquence and articulation of a squawking Stellar Jay…….Chase cocks his head sideways, props up his floppy ears and offers up a sigh of acknowledgment.
There’s a fine line between love and hate. Most people don’t know when they’ve crossed that line until it’s to late. They refuse to learn or change, they prefer casting blame rather than trying to become a better person. It’s hard to teach old humans new tricks. They always want to know, “What’s in it for me?”
Old dogs don’t learn new tricks just for a treat, they learn new tricks to please you. Some folks will say “I love you” every chance they get, but they never take the time to show it through their actions.
My dog is ten years old. They say a dog ages seven dog years for every human year. My dog at ten knows more about life and love than I ever will—–and I’m middle aged—– I’m being conservative in regards to defining my age.
Chase and I are growing old together. He’s slowed down a bit, but he still has the heart of a pup. He barks a jet airplanes, gets excited when I put on my shoes for a walk and would follow me to hell and back agin. I wish my dog would never grow old, because when he’s gone I’ll be lonely here without him……..
So ya wanna be a writer. Writing takes enormous courage, at least for those who dare to stand in the center-ring and call themselves the master of ceremonies. When I say master of ceremonies, I mean standing in the center-ring with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other—–cracking that whip as you attempt to tame language, coaxing those unruly words to jump through rings of fire. It’s being honest and pure——it’s as insufferable as siphoning ink from an anemic soul. To go to such places you must first face down who you are or who you thought you were–you must be prepared to shine a light on your blind spots and shake hands with your darkest shadows. What’s in there? What’s way deep down inside me, that thing I’ve carried with me from the womb, that shameless thing that’s a part of me like a birth mark in the shape of original sin. If you can go that far down then you’ve earned the privilege to call yourself the zoo keeper of words. You have fed the lion, but you have not tamed him. Beauty, danger and fear are the bars that cage our confessions. A long lost friend once told me “Where the beauty of the soul is, there’s always danger.”
The next step is to put your head in that lions mouth. Choose honesty over insecurity. Allow space for venerability, don’t be anonymous——be outrageous, be original not a trend chaser, be forthright rather than pious and vain——take no-ones word other than your own, search everywhere for yourself and then let it all go, unleash your restrained emotions and when all the stiff mannequins misunderstand you, tell them to fuck off———it’ll be scary, but it’ll make you feel awake and alive—–trust that it will be worth it. Your words are your weapons, surrender is your shield. Make shit happen, even if you have to make shit up as you go along, walk the high-wire, be a fire eater, play the clown, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you’ll learn to orchestrate your circus. Be persistent, have tenacity, be a seeker. Be good to yourself, be kind to others, smile, even when you don’t feel like it—-take the body and the mind will follow. .
Life is a beautiful thing——-people like you make this so.
Soundtrack “A Light On A Hill” by Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s.
Photo by Victor Uriz
The drone of the air conditioning system is what keeps me in a state of blah. The drivel coming from the facilitators voice would anger me if I let his words through and into my psyche. Occasionally, his cliche’s would seep in causing me to cringe. “When do you really start living? Yes, when we confront death.” The air conditioning thermostat had clicked off leaving an empty space for his words to slip into my stupefied ears. “Life; you have to want it, more than you fear it.” His voice had the melodic vibe of a preacher with the pensive drawl of a professor. The participants sat stoic as he gestured with his hands and paced back and forth.
The class is an odd mixture of middle aged folks and weathered senior citizens. A third of the individuals are hooked up to oxygen tanks with hoses plugged into their nostrils. There’s the incessant sound of wheezing, hacking and whistling bronchial sighs. The grim reaper is peering through the window blinds. This is the eight week class for those suffering from emphysema, COPD and respiratory related diseases. The topics to be covered included everything from smoking cessation to what the brochure defined as “wellness”. I suppose we are all somewhere on that bell shaped curve between sick and well. This class was skewed to the right side of that curve, we all knew it, and it bonded us. We all knew the score, we had our backs against the wall——mortality is the great equalizer——-living gasp to gasp…….
The class is taught in the basement of the old county hospital. The place reeks of Pinesole, cafeteria food and musty mold. The linage of life traverses within these walls, from pediatrics to geriatric’s, from mothers pushing life out, to the assisted living ward where others were being pulled out. There is a quiet seriousness that permeates the halls, examining rooms and the patients semi-private quarters. Visitors walk softly, talk in hushed voices and all emotion is stifled. I hated the place, as well as my instructor and my fellow classmates. I showed up every Tuesday and Thursday because the program is mandated by my insurance carrier. Without insurance coverage, my inhaler would be three-hundred dollars a month, now that’s enough to take my breath away.
They say that the first thing you forget about someone after they’ve passed away is the sound of their voice. But for me, it’s the life in their eyes. Age, illness and death carry pieces of us away, but the memory of the life in someones eyes is the first thing to flicker and then forever be extinguished. It can’t be captured in a photograph, or seen once the soul has vacated, perhaps this is why morticians close the eyes of those who have departed.
“Inhale slowly as you count to three, and then slowly exhale as you count to three.” There’s the sound of air being forced through a narrowed space, followed by a chorus of wet hacks. “Great job. Please do your reading and vision exercises before our next class. If you are feeling weak or a need to smoke, please call our 24 hour crisis line at “no smoke” 667-6653.”
I knew that the line to scale the staircase out of the basement would be slow, so I hustled to get to the stairs before the O2 tankers or the gaspers attempted their Everest push to the top. The August heat is stifling as I make my way to my car. As I open the car door the stale odor of tobacco fills my nose. The ashtray overflows with old butts, I inhale a deep breath of the hot air with its dank taste of ancient nicotine. I pick up an old butt and suck on the yellowed filter. Everywhere I go I seem to be drawn to old cigarette butts snubbed out on the ground, or stray singles in my junk drawer or in the pockets of my cowboy shirts. At night in my dreams, I smoke.
Buried in our basement we begin to resurrect our stories. Our tales like shadow puppets, a strange amalgamation of surreal dreams and vague snapshots shrouded by time. Confessions can be cathartic, but I trust few with my secrets—-I trust few with anything of mine. Our instructor repeatedly tells us that our blindspots are what keep us from evolving or——-transforming. For me, there is no making peace with myself, self loathing is my only friend.
The chairs are arranged in a circle with the facilitator sitting cross legged, legal pad and pen in his lap. I’ve attended a myriad of support groups, NA, AA, GA, anger management, bipolar, religious groups, pow wow’s, wounded child and such. God, were a sad, shameless bunch of unraveling fucked up losers. We cling to our prescriptions, lucky charms and technological gizmos, but we’re still unsatisfied, unfulfilled, lifeless, loveless, tripping over our own egos; frozen between a fight or flight response to our fears.
“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom…for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.” I wonder if William Blake was an addict. Poe was, and his words ring true in my mind, “I become insane with long intervals of horrible sanity”. All of this thinking is making me crazy. I catch a glimpse of my troubled eyes in my rearview mirror. I drive in a daze, the city is a blur, I’m outside myself. It’s 9:00 am and the day is already to long.
Is this what it feels like to not be alive? Something is missing or broken. But what? I don’t know, but something isn’t right. I spend to much time outside myself, to much time with small talking strangers. I’ve been wasting my days chasing my cravings. I’ve allowed the small things to eluded me. I go to bed wondering about this——and that—- and everything at once.
Life—-It fills me, I fill it, it leaves me, then I’m emptied, in a flash everything connects……What a strange feeling——
Fresh bedsheets, laying next to someone in the stillness of a dark night, cool air being drawn into my lungs, breezes from an open window, scent of pines, hoot owls calling, moon shadows on the wall———-letting everything go——no longer outside myself, no seeking, no finding……..just being, being alive, on this first day of September. I feel summer losing it’s warm grip. Life is suddenly easier in the small things. And it doesn’t even matter if the sun packs up and leaves in search of a better sky.
Soundtrack, “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” by Hall & Oats
Life goes on, with or without me. Fads come and go, hit songs become golden oldies, all my insecurities and self-conscious tendencies slip away leaving behind silent movie memories, like puddles evaporating in time—— seasons never end, they just change, a circle of revolving eternities….again I’ll wait for you to come round again—I’m no longer in a hurry, infinity is patient.
I use to give a shit what people thought, but I’ve come to realize that everyone is so self-absorbed that no one gives a damn about anyone other than themselves—-just a cavalcade of egocentric, narcotic sons of a bitches———And they move through life as though everyone else is a hollow prop, a means to an end, a thing to be manipulated for their own good. Why is it so hard for us to see this life beyond our own selfish experiences and desires?
It’s not that far of a walk till dawn, until Mr Sun bumps his head up against that dogged horizon. Ya see, light can’t wait for time to give birth to another day. I awake to find that I’m still here, alive and ready to breathe. I”m not afraid, nor sorry, cause that’s just waisted time, let the sky creep towards blueness and let the dew sparkle like diamonds to decorate the glory of forever forgetting, rebirth brings amnesia——Who were you before this? I think I must have known you from some other place and time, maybe a lover, a brother, mother, my child, aren’t we all somehow connected? Fools are the bitter ones, dismissing miracles, failing to see the expression of god within stars and dust——the lucky ones grow closer to the day, to themselves, to others,——to what is…….
The bathroom mirror mocks me. I dip my chin and turn my head one way and then the other. “Here I am——this is who I am, what I’ve become through choice and consequence. As of late I’ve become keenly aware of my two selves. My private self and my public self. I’ve lived a divided existence, a chameleon, a shape shifter, camouflaging myself into an unchanging innocuous background. I’m struck by the notion of congruency.
Somewhere along the way I’d lost myself. I’d allowed myself to fracture into a million faux personalities. I did this to please others, to protect myself, to fit in, to avoid indiscretions, to appear normal, to simulate appropriateness——I’d been a faker, a fraud—-These days I’d rather be notorious than anonymous. Authenticity comes with a license to be free, to be crazily sane, to be who ever you choose to be!
As I’ve grown older I’ve begun to allow my layered selves to coalesce into a unified me. Such a task requires practice, but at the end of the day it has liberated me. One of the blessings of aging is that it has stripped me of my vanities. I am who I am, no more pretending——the sky is the sky, my dog is my dog, life is life, what is “is” and so on and so forth….The simplest of ideas are the most difficult to grasp!
I’ve been thinking about friendships and it has occurred to me that my closest friends are the ones who allow me to be myself without pretension or expectation. They know me, they get me, and in spite of my faults, failures and foibles, they forgive me. Needless to say, these days I have fewer friends, but the ones I have help me become a better me.
To be understood is to be loved. And to be lovable requires honestly and vulnerability.
Hugging is a strange and awkward gesture. It’s a custom used both as a greeting and a farewell. Somewhere beneath the skin, the bones, the muscle and the surging blood vessels, we share a primal need to reach out to embrace one another. And in doing so, we become totally vulnerable to a huggers intentions. You may be exposing yourself to an emotional pick pocket, or a freeloading groper—not to mention a host of uninvited germs and viruses. There is no escaping a determined hugger, they’ll track you down and then attach themselves to you like a lonely depraved sea urchin.
Arm in arm and cheek to cheek, we appear to fit together as if by design. At birth we go from the womb to a mothers embrace, and as children we are mercilessly hugged by our immediate family, friends and relatives. But, as we grow older such signs of affection become fewer and far between. I’ve noticed that old folks tend to give longer hugs then younger folks. It’s as if they know they have to take full advantage of each hug they’ve been granted. You can see their eyes twinkle as their soul-ness battery is being charged.
If a baby is not held and loved it will fail to thrive. Such physical neglect will cause an infant to slowly wither away and die. In some ways, we humans are very durable and resilient, yet in other ways we are as fragile as gossamer threads.
Our bodies are very personal to us, they’re our fortress, our little vessel we captain throughout life. To splay ones arms open to another is a sign of unspoken trust. To afford someone this form of naive intimacy requires courage and at times a restrained tolerance. Some hugs are like dental appointments, you know its the right thing to do, but it’s a task you’d just as soon get over with as quickly as possible.
I wish I could hug better, but it really isn’t in my style. I freeze up when blitzed by a crazed bear hugging intruder. I feel my body go ridged when a hug is unexpectedly thrust upon me. In truth, I’d rather just give a hand shake or better yet, a knuckle bump then offer up my entire body for a casual squeeze. I don’t much care to be touched unless I feel extremely close to another person.
Some people are serial huggers. This includes those affection starved co-workers who feel compelled to hug you at the office potluck, or the new age neighbor who surprises you on a walk and embraces you as if you were their long lost sibling. Or, how bout the spine cracking dude-hug from that blundering sweat and beer stench-ed “bro”. It eludes me how any woman could find a fumbling, whisker burn of a man-hug, in anyway appealing. Then you have the weird old cologne drenched guy who gives long back rubbing hugs to any female he can stalk, corner and then smother with creepy-ness—-yuk…..
There are several kinds of hugs. There is the limp wimpy ones and then there’s the stern “I mean business” kind of hug. There’s the macho hug where guys grasp hands and bump shoulders, often used to fiend off any speculation of gayness. Grannies and little kids will sometimes slip in a sweet peck on the cheek. Hot chicks get tired of being hugged all the time, so they often discreetly lean into you maintaining their personal space and then making a hasty retreat.
A good hug comes from the heart. I don’t want one of those “have a nice day” hugs, or one of those cold obligated hugs that are offered up at weddings and funerals. A fake hug has a “one night stand” indifference to it. “Hey, here’s my number, maybe we can hug again sometime.” These are self serving desperate hugs that leave you feeling empty and used.
You’ll know a real hug when you’re lucky enough to receive one. They’re soft, warm and yielding, like chocolate melting in your mouth. In fact, once you are done hugging, you feel as if that person has left a little piece of their heart inside yours.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” — Robin Williams
Sometimes the people who act like they don’t need hugs are the ones who need them the most. Even though hugs may be strange, awkward and weird, they convey a lot more than words ever could, I know this because I’m a writer. Words can express ones feelings, thoughts and emotions, but the human touch is nourishment for the heart.
“All humans are fragile, hugs help hold us together……” VU
The soundtrack is “Ain’t No Reason” by Brett Dennen
I am looking for a newer or slightly used god with plenty of sole still left on the soul. Must have bad eyesight, poor hearing and a failing memory—the less of my actions you can see, hear or remember the better. Must have a great sense of humor and be easily amused, as you will endure petty attempts by me to curry your favor. These stunts may include but are not limited to, praying for the correct lottery numbers, missing church to play golf (yet praying to make a three foot putt) mumbling my way through the lords prayer due to never actually learning the correct words, pleading for hangover relief, bargaining in an attempt to get myself out of tight spots, covertly eyeing chicks at the beach and allowing my dog to poop on my least favorite neighbors lawn and snickering about it.
You will be expected to shower me with unconditional love in spite of my selfish, egocentric and narcissistic ways—I may not be much, but I’m all I think about. I’ll require a limitless credit line on forgiveness and “Get out of jail free cards”. Preferably you are omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence or at least have an iPhone with a sire application. The work schedule requires you to be on duty 24/7 with no time off for holidays or vacations. Prayers are expected to be answered promptly—— automated voice menus are strictly prohibited e.g. (“For a medium size miracle please press one”, “To talk a police officer out of a ticket please press two”).
Providing me with a users guide to the universe is mandatory. Bonus chapters on how to unlock the enigmas that make up a females psyche will be a huge plus. Demigods, saints or angels need not apply—-you must be a full fledged god equipped with all the standard godly powers e.g. grant miracles, endless love and forgiveness, turn water to wine/beer, raise the dead, allow opportunities for me to get lucky (kind of like raising the dead), able to turn old girlfriends into pillars of salt, provide free tickets to sold out ballgames, able to provide unwarranted gifts such as excellent performance reviews and promotions, passing tests results without studying and generally be available to open doors to fame, fortune and eternal happiness. Vengeful gods who throw lightening bolts, hurl sinners into lakes of fire or threaten eternal damnation need not apply. Also, gods over a milliim old will not be considered, as I’m looking for some new blood.
Some God Options—Caveat Emptor
Yes, lately I’ve been shopping for a better god. Well, not better par se, but maybe newer and improved. Mom and Pops antiquated god just hasn’t kept up with the changing times. The tale tale signs of wear and tear are ripping holes in the holy. All those archaic railings against birth control, homosexuality and women’s’ rights is causing congregations to shrink as fast as a middle aged man’s libido minus viagra. Those tired old white, heterosexual, male gods are beginning to lose their relevance. If only the dead could speak, so many could tell you crazy stories of how they fought and died over who’s god was more godly.
Christianity touts that you can be born again and have ever lasting life by simply following their basic ten commandments, accept everything literally in a book that’s over 2,000 years old and accepting that a god/man died for your sins on a cross (something I still don’t understand).This seems like a bit of false advertising, as Jesus is the only person/deity who has risen from the dead and he was only seen by a handful of folks. No one has seen hide nor hair of him in over two thousand years, not so much as a selfie has even been posted on Facebook. He apparently utilizes televangalist as his emissaries, these folks claim to speak to him on a daily basis and if you send them a donations they’ll pray for your salvation. Oh yeah, the real kicker that they love to throw out at you is this, “If you don’t believe in their god and their specific dictums, then you will rot in hell——Oh, so loving and compassionate.
Then you have your more exotic eastern religions. Buddhism states that by abstaining from desire you will then overcome suffering (all suffering is derived from desire). This virtuous claim was made by a shirtless portly guy wearing a cheesecake eaten grin who looks like a before picture from a Jenny Craig advertisement. He appears to have a hefty appetite for someone who has relinquished all desire and has conquered the desires of the flesh. He looks more like a guy who meditates on jelly donuts and seeks enlighten through endless trips to the buffet table. The monks sit idle on the corner with their beggars bowl and wait for those who work to toss them something to eat, kind of like the homeless guys you see holding their cardboard signs in front of the grocery store. Mediating and praying all day is great, but it won’t pay the candle bills at the monastery.
Then you have your Hindus. They worship cows and allow them to aimlessly wander the streets while children starve to death. I thought god made cows slow, defenseless and gullible so that we could catch them and turn them into barbecued steaks, ribs and burgers. I guess dinning at McDonalds is as bad for ones body as it is for ones soul….. They also have a god that looks like an elephant. How can you worship something that stars in the circus? A monkey looks more godlike than an elephant. At lease a monkey can roller skate and ride a bike. And, I definitly don’t understand the god Vishnu that has all those wild arms. Is that the god of multitasking? Maybe they could use a few of those gods in their industrial sweat shops instead of forcing children to work in such hell holes.
How about those Muslims. They’re the ones who invented the term “jihad”, which means “holy war”. That’s got to be the topper when it comes to oxymorons. These guys will cut your head off if you don’t follow there beliefs. Their punishment for stealing is to chop your hands off. I can only imagine what they’d chop off an adulterer. When it comes to women’s rights, these dudes make the Amish look like comminist liberals. Their version of women’s rights is quiet simple, wear a black sheet head to toe, don’t drive, don’t vote and don’t leave the house without your husband permission.
I don’t know much about Judaism other than they believe that they are the only chosen people. So basically, if you’re not one of them, you’re shit out of luck. I guess the rest of us are doomed second class citizens. There motto is this, “They’re two kinds of people, those who are Jewish and those that want to be”. I eat at a Jewish deli, will that help me get through the pearly gates?
New Age is all the rage these day. It’s one of those religions that let’s you be your own god. Being your own god is kind of like marrying a stripper, you know it’s going to lead to no good, but the temptation for self gratification is just to great. It pretty much boils down to this, if you believe hard enough you can manifest anything you want. It’s always the rich successful people who subscribe to this belief. They did it! So now why don’t all you lazy asses get off your loafing butts and do it! I guess you aren’t believing hard enough.This relieves the rich of their guilt for being rich, they earned it through their power of intention, universal reciprocity, affirmations—yada yada. Oprah loves new age speak and showcases these types on her program. These are the alturistic people who get rich writing books about this stuff—–prosperity and salvation in ten easy steps.For 29.99 we will sell you the secrets to the universe——-“Yeah right, and I got a key to the pearly gates I want to sell ya”.
People ought to get out of the god business and more into the treat others nicely business. Most the time kindness is the best choice, but occasionally I’ve required a kick in the ass, and there are those times too when I’ve needed to kick some ass. It’s all part of the process of getting from here to there.
Most times you can go over or around life’s obstacles, but sometimes you just have to go through them……And that’s when I’ve needed to call on my faith. At the moment when all hell it breaking lose, I tend to see no rhyme or reason to life’s seemingly random events. But once I become still and look back at the events that lead me to where I am, I can connect the dots and see the obvious presence of a guiding hand. Or, the negaitve results of not paying attention to the powers that be. Even though I poke fun at God, I must admit that he’s been very good to me. Although it would be nice if he could help get my novel featured on Oprah’s book of the month series, or at least send me some more blog followers. Now here I go again with that pesky pandering I mentioned in my Craigslist Advertisement.
I Still Have Faith—Fidem Servare
I’m to much of an optimist and idealist to be an atheist. There something going on here, but I just can’t figure out what it is—maybe that’s the way it’s suppose to be. For me, it doesn’t make any sense to be an atheist.
You see, I believe in a lot of things I can’t see or prove. For me, everything does happen for a reason, there are no mistakes and god will help those who help themselves…..Life without faith is like sex without a partner, just a fantasy you make up in your head to make you feel less desperate and alone———everyone has to believe in something and this is what I believe…..
I believe in science, mystic’s and magic, love at first sight, extraterrestrials, soul fakers and soul shakers, giving it your best shot, synchronism, getting what you deserve, compassion, reality hatched in dreams, doing good, evolution and its opposite, physics’, music, going down swinging, forgiveness, learning from your failures, honesty being the best policy, no guarantees, no warranties, you get what you pay for, gambling, bucking the odds, changing your mind, changing course, carpe diem, magnetism and its opposite, leaving no trace, making your mark, humor, hot coffee, cold beer, second chances, second looks, first glances, gut feelings, good vibes and its opposite, making things better, breaking a sweat, being still, first loves breaking naive hearts, getting better, getting on with it, letting it go and its opposite, moving on, moving past it, being sentimental, old photographs, good stories, funerals, weddings, divorces, family get togethers, faith, traditions, old movies, drives going nowhere, naps, nature, hikes, my dogs loyalty, earning your keep, buying what you can afford, carrying on in spite of everything, manners, gratitude, keeping promises and silent prayers.
My soul has grown to frayed and warn to carry me comfortably—-pieces of me seep from its cracked walls and leak onto the floor, I’d need a soul-horn to squeeze back into that old life—time moves us on—. With corpses come flowers, freshly cut and ready to die—. For some, love becomes only a word, four letters, uttered with the sincerity of a grocery clerks “have a nice day”. What a trite and meaningless salutation, What’s my other option?—Have a bad day? In-spite of my failing words and their treacherous rabbit holes, I do still love you—I have no other option====
I think the two of us should take the day off, walk around in faded wrinkled pajamas, sitting face to face, two miss matched coffee cups, all sheepish grins and tousled bed-heads, two unclaimed valentines, no return addresses, awkwardly belonging to one another, hearts locked on spin cycle, outcasts in a world consumed by trends and fads, our kind of love never pales or goes out of style, sitting beside one another watching the sky snow, taking it all in–holding hands in silence, best friends communicating with drowsy morning eyes-
We’ll watch “Harold and Maude” and dig Cat Stevens, we can bake hot gooey brownies and wiggle our toes as we wash-em down with ice cold milk, and then take a vanilla scented bubble bath—candles flicker, bubbles burst—-we’re the lucky ones—–knowing that nothing, or no one, can take these moments from us—all else is broken glass, flashing in the sun, glimmering and shattered, inconsequential-
My music and spoken work projects are available at cdbaby.com, Artist Victor Uriz My novel and book of prose are available at amazon.com, Author Victor Uriz
(This piece is intended to be read while listening to the attached song “Lessons in Love” by Level 42)
The doctor traipses through the door wearing a somber expression. It’s the face he saves for moments such as these. He looks to be in his late sixties with gray thinning hair, wearing a white lab jacket over a dress shirt and blue Dockers. A pair of silver rimmed bifocals are resting towards the end of his nose. He thumbs through my medical report and shakes his head in confirmation of what he’s reading. Without looking up from the final page he sighs “I’m truly sorry, but, well—-there nothing more we can do—-”. He’s a picture of detached professionalism, he might as well be telling me that my car transmission is shot. I squirm on the crinkly sounding paper that covers the exam table “What do you mean, there’s nothing more you can do?” He puts his hand on my shoulder and wistfully responds “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it’s terminal.”
A fight or flight response kicks in and I feel a jolt of adrenaline shoot through my veins. I instinctively jump to my feet escaping the examining table with its protective paper that clings to my sweat glazed skin. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. There’s gotta be other alternatives, other options—-experimental treatments—-.” He offers me a weary nod that expresses a sense of futility. “I’ll change my diet, join a gym—-become a vegan? I’ll quit the beer. I’ll fast. I’ll drink vitamin shakes!” I’m not schooled in all the stages of death and dying, but I was obviously in the bargaining phase. “I’m still young, I feel better than ever.” The Doc rubs his wrinkled forehead and then removes his glasses “This is very common, one day you’re running a marathon and making future plans and the next, well—-” his voice trails off as he grimly shrugs his rounded shoulders.
Feeling emotionally and physically exposed, I self-consciously fuss with my hospital gown in an attempt to better cover my backside. I mumble under my breath, “You’d think with all the advances in modern medicine they’d come up with a better way to cover your ass than one of these flimsy butt curtains. I swear, you’ll see more ass in a hospital corridor than a strip-club.”
With all the melodrama carved from a climatic scene of a soap opera (sweeping organ arpeggio not included) I blurt out “How much time do I have left?” The old Doc straightens his starched lab coat and takes a deep breath “When it comes to these sorts of things, well—it’s hard to say. It could be today, or you might have another fifty years.” “What?” I stare at the report in his hand, “Well, what does that fucking report say?” He nods with a sheepish smirk “Oh this, it says you’re perfectly fine. I’m sorry if I’ve confused you, or frightened you.” Folding my arms over my chest I respond “As a matter of fact I am confused, and more pissed than frightened. What the hell are you trying to tell me? Am I well, or am I dying? What the—-” In a gesture of sympathy or perhaps pity, he puts his left arm around my shoulder. “There’s a little secret us doctors keep from our patience.” My voice is becoming louder and more frustrated “Secret, what little secret?” “Son, we’re all terminal. We don’t like to spread this kind of medical diagnoses around.” He squints his eyes displaying a painful grimace, “It’s rather—how should I say—–well it’s—–it’s bad for our professional image—–and it’s really not good for business.”
My sense of anxiety is replaced with a feeling of shock “So I have a reprieve, I’m gonna live?” He slips his hands in the pockets of his spotless lab coat “Why no silly, like I said, you might stroll out of here today and be hit by a Mac-Truck or have a massive aneurism. Or, you could carry on healthy and strong for another fifty years. But make no mistake about it, you are terminal and your days are numbered. And when that day does come, there’s no magic pill or fanciful medical treatment that will extend your life another year, another day or another second.”
He glances down at his watch “Times a wastin, I gotta get down to the commissary, the Women’s’ Auxiliary is having their annual cheese ball sale—Oh my God, they are to die for—-Oops, sorry for the poor choice of words.” He gives me a hand shake and a wink. And with that, he turns and walks out whistling a lose arrangement of “American Pie” by Don McLean.
Later that night I fall asleep and have pastel colored surreal dreams. I’m in a strange cosmic flow between reality and fantasy. I surrender—-I no longer fight against anything—-I desire nothing. I feel no need to assert my will, The “I” in “I am” is gone. There’s a sudden sharpness to the existence of nonexistence, awareness of unawareness, the un-conciseness of conciseness—-I’m at a place where all things intersect—-there’s a nothingness toall that is, and an everything-ness to all that it isn’t. That gibberish is hippy-talk for saying—I feel good,—all is as it should be,—–I’m in the flow—-
I wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and born again—-I finally understand that esoteric term “born again”. I pick up the phone and call my office. The operator connects me to my boss “Hey John, yeah its me, I’m not gonna be able to make it in today. No—I’m fine, in-fact I’m feeling great. I just feel too damn good to spoil it by coming to work.” I snicker to myself “I guess I’m calling in well.”
There’s a long pause “Did you win the lottery or are you drunk?” I laugh “Yeah, I feel like I’ve won the lottery and I feel drunk too, drunk on life—baby.” John’s voice becomes more curt “Now listen here, those quarterly reports are due next week and all those spreadsheets of yours need to be updated and posted. Cut the crap and get your ass down here—-now!” “No I’m sorry John, but like I said, I’m calling in well. I just feel too damn alive to be holed up in a stuffy cubicle all day staring at a computer screen—-it would bum my stone man.”
There’s another long pause. I hear a deep sigh come over the receiver “So, you’re calling in well. Now isn’t that some crazy shit—–. Okay, I’ve gotta hand it to you—-you’ve got balls. And I hate to say this, but at some crazy-ass, luny level, I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt. Why? I don’t know. But I’ll take your lame honesty any day over someone’s phony ass hoarse voice, whimpering to me that they’re sick. I guess ya got to do what ya gotta do.” I think to myself, damn—this honesty is some powerful shit!
I’m not sure if I want to take a shot of Jager or a shot of wheatgrass. I put on my baggy shorts, tank top, flip flops and head off downtown. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the plate-glass store window and damn, I look pretty freakin good. I’ve got my tunes blasting from the speakers in my backpack. I’m diggin on the song “Lessons of Love” by Level 42—I never even use to like that song, damn—where the fuck did the 80’s go? I’m walkin in rhythm, I’m shakin it down like Ellen Degeneres (now, that’s kinda creepy too)—-but who cares, cause baby I’m movin and groovin—I start clapping my hands and laughin out loud like some sort of crazed madman.
I taste the diesel in the air and I suck it in with a smile. I cruz past kids walking home from school and they fall in behind me smiling and dancing,. Birds chirp, horns honk, an alley cat creeps by. A stray dog sniffs the air and then prances in rhythm behind the kids. I drop a dollar in a homeless guys cup—he falls under our spell and joins in, dancing and snapping his fingers at the end of our urban conga-line—. As we pass a Starbucks, a throng of patrons empty out of the patio and find their place at the tail-end of our looney parade. Out of the corner of my eye I see John my boss staring down from his corner office window, he shakes his head and gives me a half hearted thumbs up sign——-all of life is sweet and beautiful—-I’m in it—-we’re all in the flow.
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac